Azerbaijan has three major national GSM operators:
- Nar mobile (by Azerfon)
A 4th operator called Aztrank operates on CDMA network which is not compatible to GSM devices and therefore not mentioned any further. Furthermore some local operators exist with very limited coverage.
2G/GSM is on 900 MHz with Azercell and Bakcell and 1800 MHz with Nar, 3G is on 2100 MHz with all operators up to DC-HSPA and 4G/LTE has started on all three providers on 1800 MHz recently.
Coverage and speeds are quite good throughout the country. 4G/LTE has only started and is mostly limited to the capital so far.
This first part of this article is about the 85% of the area of Azerbaijan, while 15% are officially considered to be 'under occupation'. In the de facto independent Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, that is internationally recognized as de jure part of Azerbaijan Karabakh Telecom remains the only provider which is listed at the bottom of the article.
Up to 2016 it was difficult to get a SIM card for foreigners the legal way as you couldn't be properly registered as a short-time visitor. Most SIM cards were sold on the grey market without any registration risking that they'll shut you off.
But things changed in 2016 when a new SIM registration system was implemented that allowed for the first time that foreigners staying less than 10 days in the country are registered on a centralized database with their ID data. Now any visitor can easily get a SIM card by showing your ID (passport, visa) at one of the sales points of the operators.
IMEI registration Edit
There is another hurdle. Like in Turkey, the authorities in Azerbaijan maintain a register of all IMEI numbers. These numbers are unique to your device and go to a whitelist system. This is done officially to prevent theft, but constitutes a surveillance tool as well.
All devices need to be registered on the Azerbajan IMEI data base, that use a local SIM card for more than 30 days. To enlist you can either go online here with a local friend for help or go to any post office in the country. Online registration costs 5 AZN, in postal offices 5.50 AZN. Otherwise, your device will be shut off after 30 days based on its IMEI number.
To know your IMEI number, you need to press *#06# on most devices. If you stay for less than 30 days or use a roaming SIM in the country, you don't need to care. Similar to Turkey this country remains to be greylisted as this 2nd registration poses another obstacle. The grace period is much shorter compared to Turkey, but fees are lower too.
Roaming on Kyivstar Edit
Given the IMEI registration problems, you may consider roaming on Kyivstar instead for 60 UAH (approximately 2.2 USD) for 100 MiB.
Azercell is Azerbaijan’s largest mobile operator by subscribers with 50% of all users and still owned by Swedish Telia group and Turkish Turkcell. It covers 80% of Azerbaijan's territory and 99% of the populated areas (outside of Nagorno-Karabakh). But some of them are on 2G. 3G has started in 2011, to be followed by 4G/LTE in Baku and the Absheron Peninsula with 79% coverage of the capital and Absheron today, to be spread to other parts soon.
Their SIM card is sold for 5 AZN in their shops and outlets (locator) showing your ID. Their prepaid SIMs are called SimSim. They come in different tariff lines. Default tariff is Acercellim. If you are on a different line, you can change by texting letter A to 7575. New subscribers who top-up their balance with 1 AZN or more during 10 days after activation will get 3 AZN as a bonus.
Payment cards for top-ups are sold all over from 1 to 100 AZN. Validity is 7 to 360 days depending on amount. To top-up, enter *131*<voucher code>#. To check balance send an empty SMS to 2112 (for 0.02 AZN) or enter *111*1*7#.
Data feature packages Edit
Default rates on almost all tariffs including Acercellim is 0.20 AZN per MB. Max speed is on 3G 21.6 Mbps on 4G/LTE 100 Mbps. They sell these data packs:
|unlimited||1 hour||0.40 AZN||1 hour|
|unlimited||3 hours||1 AZN||3 hours|
|unlimited||0 - 8am||0.99 AZN||night|
|50 MB||24 hours||0.25 AZN||50+|
|500 MB||24 hours||1.20 AZN||day+|
|50 MB||30 days||1 AZN||50|
|500 MB||30 days||3 AZN||500|
|1 GB||30 days||5 AZN||1000|
|5 GB||30 days||10 AZN||5000|
|10 GB||30 days||15 AZN||10000|
|'unlimited'||30 days||30 AZN||U|
For activation, text code to 2525 free of charge. All daily and monthly packages auto-renew. To stop text 'stop' to 2525. Overage rate is 0.05 AZN during the running time of the package. Check balance by an empty SMS to 2525 or by *100#. Hourly and daily packs are capped at 1 Mbps. The 'unlimited' monthly pack has a FUP of 30 GB before being throttled to 128 Mbps. Night pack is for one night only midnight to 8am.
More info Edit
- APN: internet
- Website in English: http://www.azercell.com/en
Bakcell was the first provider in the country established in 2002. It's partly state-owned and today no.2 in the market with a 30% user share. It has a good coverage in 2G and 3G throughout the country and started with 4G in the Baku area: 3G/4G coverage map.
Bakcell's prepaid SIM cards are called CIN. They have different tariff lines and starter packs are for 5 AZN in their stores. You will need to show your passport.
To top-up money cards are sold everywhere from 1 to 50 AZD giving 5 to 150 days of validity. To enter the code, type *101#<voucher code>#. To check balance, type *100#.
Default data rate is 0.29 - 0.35 AZN per MB depending on tariff. To begin using internet you should have at least 0.29 AZN in your account.
Daily packages Edit
They have three packs called daily, but are actually more like weekly:
- 25 MB per day: 0.10 AZN per day, overuse: 0.05 AZN /MB. When this package is activated 0.50 AZN will be charged once from your balance for the first 5 days of usage. From the 6th day, after every auto-renewal of the package you will be charged for 0.10 AZN. For activation dial *189*1#.
- 50 MB per day: 0.20 AZN per day, overuse: 0.03 AZN /MB. When this package is activated 1 AZN will be charged once from your balance for the first 5 days of usage. From the 6th day, after every auto-renewal of the package you will be charged for 0.20 AZN. For activation dial *189*2#.
- 1 GB per day: 0.99 AZN, overuse: 0.01 AZN/MB. For activation dial *189*1000#
All packages auto-renew. To stop, text *1890#, To check data balance *189*559#. Having activated a package, you can use Bakcell's WiFi network for free (see below)
'Sür@' Internet packages Edit
|50 MB||15 days||1 AZN||*444*50#|
|150 MB||30 days||2 AZN||*444*150#|
|500 MB||30 days||3 AZN||*444*500#|
|750 MB||30 days||4 AZN||*444*750#|
|1 GB||30 days||5 AZN||*444*1000#|
|1.5 GB||30 days||7 AZN||*444*1500#|
|3 GB||30 days||9 AZN||*444*3000#|
|5 GB||30 days||10 AZN||*444*5#|
|10 GB||30 days||15 AZN||*444*10#|
|22 GB||30 days||22 AZN||*444*22#|
To check the balance of the package dial *444#. To repurchase current package ahead of time, dial *444#555#. All packages auto-renew. To deactivate auto-renewal of the package, dial *444#0#. Having booked a package you can get access to Bakcell's WiFi in Baku and surf for free (see below).
Bakcell WiFi Edit
Bakcell's free WiFi service is available to all Bakcell subscribers and visitors with foreign numbers who are using the Bakcell network. There are no other requirements for using the WiFi service. It's available in more than 200 different locations: restaurants, hotels, cafes, parks (locator).
You will need to connect to Bakcell_Free_WiFi access point. Submit your telephone number in 994XXXXXXXXX format on the landing page, click “Get password”, and wait for the text message. Use the password from SMS and enter in in the “Your Password” box and press, “Log in”. You will have free access to the internet for 1 hour. After 1 hour, you will be disconnected from the WiFi network. To re-establish your connection, you need to log-in again on landing page. Passwords are reusable during the day. Your internet connection speed is limited to 2 Mbps.
Data-only SIMs Edit
For tables and modems they offer a free data-only card and:
- 3 GB in 3G: 6 AZN, activation: *134*3000#
- 15 GB in 4G: 20 AZN, activation: *134*105#
- 40 GB in 4G: 40 AZN, activation: *134*355#
All packages are for one month, auto-renew. To stop: *134#0#, to check data balance: *134#559#
These throttled "unlimited" packages are available for data SIM cards too:
- "unlimited" @ 1 Mbps: 12 AZN, activation: *134*111#
- "unlimited" @ 2 Mbps: 20 AZN, activation: *134*222#
Packages auto-renew after one month. To stop, type *134#0#
More info Edit
- APN: internet.bakcell.com
- Website in English: http://www.bakcell.com/en
Nar mobile (by Azerfon) Edit
Azerfon launched its activities in 2007 under brand name Nar mobile. Azerfon claims to reach 80% of the territory which is almost all given that some 15% of the territory is 'under occupation'. In certain remote areas Nar is the only provider offering service, but generally coverage is lower. In 2015 4G/LTE was launched in the city of Baku but they remain at no.3 with a 25% user share.
Their prepaid SIM card called NarSim is sold in their stores for 5 AZN in different tariff lines. It doesn't make much difference for data as they stay mainly on the default rate of 0.29 AZN per MB.
To top-up recharge cards are sold from 2 to 50 AZN valid for 25 to 245 days. To top-up, type *777#11#<voucher code>#. To check balance, type *777#10#.
Data feature packages Edit
Their daily package called Günlük contains 30 MB for 0.10 AZN until midnight. Activation is by code *777#12#. It will auto-renew at midnight. To stop, enter *777#012#. To check data balance, *777#77#. Overuse will be charged at the default rate.
Their data packages are called Turbo:
|60 MB||15 days||1 AZN||*777#01#|
|200 MB||20 days||2 AZN||*777#02#|
|600 MB||30 days||3 AZN||*777#03#|
|1.5 GB||30 days||6 AZN||*777#04#|
|7 GB||30 days||12 AZN||*777#05#||unlimited|
|20 GB||30 days||20 AZN||*777#06#||unlimited|
|40 GB||30 days||30 AZN||*777#07#||unlimited|
Having reached the quota, speed will be throttled to 64 kbps for the rest of the time. Night bonus is midnight to 8am only. All packages auto-renew. To stop, type *777#0#. To check balance *777#77#. The same data packages apply to their modem tariffs.
More info Edit
- APN: nar
- Username: nar
- Password empty
- Website in Azerbaijan and Russian: http://www.nar.az/
Nagorno-Karabakh region: Karabakh Telecom Edit
The Nagorno-Karabakh region is internationally recognized as de jure part of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan considers this territory 'under occupation', while the local government declared the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Here prices are given in the local currency of AMD (Armenian Dram) instead. The Azerbaijan operators don't have any infrastructure deployed in this area, nor offer roaming or IDD calls. Otherwise Armenian providers offer roaming and connections (check Armenia article).
Karabakh Telecom (KT) Edit
Karabakh Telecom (also called K-Telecom or KT) is the only mobile provider. It was founded in 2003 after the separation and purchased in 2007 by Russia’s MTS. They have a 95% coverage on 2G on 900 and 1800 MHz. In 2013 they started with 3G in Stepanakert, Artsakh and other major towns on 900 and 2100 MHz. There is no 4G/LTE yet.
Their regular prepaid SIM card is available in their stores (list) for 1,200 AMD without credit. Recharge cards of 500, 1000, 2000, 4500 and 9000 AMD are sold too. Check your account by *122#.
Data feature packages Edit
For data you need to add one of these packages:
|25 MB||10 days||500 AMD||*200*25#|
|50 MB||20 days||750 AMD||*200*50#|
|100 MB||20 days||1250 AMD||*200*100#|
|200 MB||30 days||1900 AMD||*200*200#|
|300 MB||30 days||2300 AMD||*200*300#|
|1 GB||30 days||5600 AMD||*200*1#|
|3 GB||30 days||7800 AMD||*200*3#|
|5 GB||30 days||9800 AMD||*200*5#|
More than one bundle can be activated simultaneously. Type *200# to check the remaining balance of the package.
More info Edit
- APN: connect.kt.am
- Website in English: http://www.karabakhtelecom.com/en/