There are these networks operating in Belarus:
- MTS [МТС] (owned by Beltelecom &MTS Russia)
- Velcom (owned by Telekom Austria Group)
- Life:) (owned by Turkcell)
- beCloud (partly state owned. only 4G/LTE, for all three providers above)
Many people in Belarus carry two mobiles, one with an MTS and the other with a Velcom SIM card to avoid paying for more expensive cross-network calls. Life is in 3rd place with a lower coverage but very good prices.
2G is on 900 and 1800 Mhz, 3G on 900 and 2100 Mhz. In 2016 the two major operators cover 53%, which is expected to be extended to 97% by the end of the year.
4G/LTE has started in 2015. A 4th state-owned provider called beCloud has a monopoly license for 15 years and is building up the 4G/LTE network on 1800 and 2600 MHz, which is marketed by all three private operators. MTS has been lauching its 4G/LTE marketing in 2015, life:) followed in 2016 and Velcom doesn't resell 4G/LTE yet.
BeCloud's 4G/LTE serves in 2016 almost 30 cities and towns, including the capital Minsk and settlements in the Minsk region, all regional centres, and the towns of Dobrush, Molodechno, Smolevichi and Shklov. In 2017 coverage will be extended to another 20 or so towns and cities, including such regional centres as Bobruisk, Borisov, Dzerzhinsk, Kobrin, Orsha, Polotsk, Soligorsk and others.
The two major operators sell visitor or tourist SIMs that can be purchased and used without any registration.
It's hard to buy a SIM card in Belarus without showing your passport. All operators require this by the law. Be aware that some shops don't know how to deal with foreign (not Belarussian nor Russian) passports.
In July 2016 the currency was denominated and the new Belarussian ruble was introduced. They took away four 0s and 1 new ruble is now worth the same as 10,000 old rubles (BYR). From 2017 only the new Belarussian ruble (BYN) is valid. Therefore all prices given in this article are in new Belarussian rubles (BYN) now.
EU roaming Edit
Be aware that Belarus is not part of the EU, nor the EEA, where from June 2017 new international roaming rules are enforced. So roaming rates on most European SIM cards are not capped or regulated in Belarus and can be much higher. Better buy a local SIM in the country.
MTS (or МТС in Belarussian for Мабільныя ТэлеСістэмы) is a joint venture co-owned by state owned Beltelecom and Russian's MTS and the leading provider in Belarus. Its network coverage 98% on 2G and 95% on 3G: MTS 2G 3G coverage Map. 4G/LTE reselling of beCloud started in 2015 4G coverage map and gained 1 mio users until 2017.
Visitor plan (Гостевой)Edit
MTS has a visitor plan called Smart Guest (CMAPT Гостевой) that does not require the customer to be registered with the authorities in Belarus, but it is required to show your passport when buying the SIM card. Although this tariff offers cheaper international calls, it does not allow international roaming, making it harder to keep the SIM card active after leaving Belarus.
SIMs cards on all tariffs expire after 180 days of non-use. You can keep it alive by sending a roaming SMS or a web text from MTS's web site. Since 6th July 2017, all tariffs except for a guest tariffs and a children's tariff have roaming activated at the time the SIM is purchased. Roaming needs to be activated for SIM cards bought before this date by dialling *111*22# while in Belarus.
To top-up you can buy vouchers or do it online by internatl. credit card (VISA, MasterCard).
The Smart Guest SIM card is sold at 12 BYN including 2 GB data for 1 month, another 1 GB for the 2nd month, 1000 mins within the MTS network and reduced internatl. call rates. Monthly subscription price is 12 BYN. Default internet rate is 0.04 BYN per MB for overuse.
On their Smart Guest, you can add these packs of these data packs (Гостевой Инет) for more data:
|15 days||2 GB||7.28 BYN||*994#|
|4 GB||9.78 BYN||*995#|
|6 GB||12.48 BYN||*996#|
|30 days||2 GB||9.15 BYN||*991#|
|4 GB||12.28 BYN||*992#|
|6 GB||15.61 BYN||*993#|
Speed is up to 21.6 Mbps where 3G/4G is available, which is only in the cities. You can activate more than one pack at a time. To know the remaining megabytes use code *558#, for the remaining credit check *100#. Overuse fee is 3.75 BYN per 100 MB.
To get other tariffs, you need to be registered with the authorities in Belarus. A stamp by your hotel on the back of the immigration card in your passport is sufficient, and this is routinely done by hotels upon check-in. Some MTS shops, particularly outside Minsk, might insist that you instead take the Гостевой/Guest tariff with a foreign passport, even if you are properly registered, so be prepared to demand a second opinion. Though they may give better rates, some Russian language skills are mandatory to manage the SIM.
Their cheapest data plan is simply called Internet (Интернет), is aimed at tablets and modems, but has voice and text too at high rates. You can change to this tariff by typing *111*13#. It doesn't have a monthly fee, but you need to add one of these packages:
- for 30 days (overuse is charged at 0.02 BYN per MB):
- 4 GB: 7.28 BYN, activation: *534#, deactivation: *534*0#
- 8 GB: 9.47 BYN, activation: *535#, deactivation: *535*0#
- 12 GB: 13.01 BYN, activation: *536#, deactivation: *536*0#
- "unlimited" data for 30 days:
- BIT: 100 MB/day: 7.80 BYN/month, activation: *741#, deactivation: *741*0#
- Super BIT: 250 MB/day: 14.57 BYN/month, activation: *742#, deactivation: *742*0#
- Unlim VIP: 1 GB/day: 26.03 BYN/month, activation: *743#, deactivation: *743*0#
In the "unlimited" packages speed will be throttled to 256 kBits/s when daily high speed quota is exceeded. All packages will auto-renew, if not disabled before. To know the remaining megabytes use code *558#. for the remaining credit code *100#.
Disabling useless optionsEdit
Those options are enabled by default and cost useless money:
- "Тонинг"/"Мелодия дня"(= ring-back tone): 0.72BYN per month. Disabling has a one-off cost. To disable *300# (for 0.006 BYN) or text "off" to number 300 (for 0.028 BYN)
- Voicemail: To disable enter ##002#.
- "Будь в курсе" (= spam message): This service is free, but if you press "OK" in any of the spam messages, you'll have to pay. To disable enter *987*0#.
- Possibility to go to negative credit. You don't want to owe money to mobile operator. To disable negative credit and be fully prepaid enter *150*0#.
- APN: internet.mts.by
- Username and Password: mts
- Website in English (showing only a part of the offers)
- Website in Russian (showing all offers)
Austrian-owned Velcom is the strongest competitor of MTS in Belarus with almost the same 2G/3G coverage: Velcom 2G 3G coverage map. Velcom doesn't resell 4G/LTE yet.
Velcom's prepaid card is called Privet (Привет in Russian meaning hello/hi). Like MTS, Velcom has a tourist plan that doesn't require the customer to be registered with the authorities in Belarus.
The new Tourist Plan issued in 2017 is sold for 15 BYN at their service centers (Фирменные центры) (locator in English). 9.90 BYN of this are deducted for a 2 GB data pack and 100 domestic minutes to all networks for 10 days. The remaining 5.10 BYN can be used to purchase more services. Data by default is 0.4425 BYN per MB.
For extra data you can purchase another 2 GB plus 100 mins for 10 days at 9.90 BYN by *127*1#. The SIM expires one year after the last top-up. Check balance by *120# and data balance by *127*2#.
Data feature packagesEdit
Default internet rate is 0.03 BYN per 50 KB outside of packages. On a tourist line, you can add these monthly data packs:
|Volume||Price for 10 days||Price for 30 days|
|50 MB||1.50 BYN||1.90 BYN|
|250 MB||2.50 BYN||2.90 BYN|
|450 MB||2.90 BYN||3.50 BYN|
|900 MB||3.90 BYN||4.90 BYN|
|1.8 GB||6.90 BYN||8.70 BYN|
|3.6 GB||n.a.||16.70 BYN|
To activate type *121*1*6# Speed is up to 42 Mbps where 3G is available. To check the remaining data balance enter *120*3#. Overuse is 0.03 BYN per MB in 50 KB increments.
To get other tariffs, you need to be registered with the authorities in Belarus. Though they may give better rates, some Russian language skills are mandatory to manage the SIM.
Here is a good survey of their local data tariffs on other Privet tariff lines in English. They are too complicated to show them all and many visitors will stick to the visitor tariff without being registered.
Disabling useless optionsEdit
Those options are enabled by default and cost useless money.
- "Мелофон" (= ring-back tone): 0.04 BYN/day (1.2 BYN/month). To disable enter *424*5*1#.
- Voicemail: to disable enter *441*1#.
- "Что нового" (= spam messages): The service is free, but if you press "OK" in any of the spam messages, you'll have to pay. Go to SIM toolkit and choose «Что нового», «Настройки», «Сервис включен», «Отключить» and «Подтвердить».
- Possibility to go to negative credit: you don't want to owe money to mobile operator. To disable negative credit and be fully prepaid enter *145*9#.
- APN: wap.privet.by (for tourist line)
- Username and Password: privet
- Website in English (for Velcom)
- Website in English (for Privet)
life:)EditTurkish owned life:) is the smallest operator in Belarus. As its network is still limited, make a network scan before you buy a SIM card: Its 3G is still much more limited to population centers as the 900 MHz frequency is not yet employed. Where available, they give data at better rates, but at a lower coverage: 2G/3G/4G coverage map..
4G/LTE reselling of beCloud by life has started in 2016, but can be used on special data packages shown below. You may need to change to a new SIM card, if it's not LTE-enabled.
They have two visitor oriented tariffs for which you need to be registered with the authorities in Belarus. A stamp by your hotel on the back of the immigration card in your passport is sufficient, and this is routinely done by hotels upon check-in. Both starter packs are sold in their shops called salons (locator).
- Start yo life:): starter pack sold at 1.50 BYN with 0.60 BYN credit
- World in your hand: starter pack sold at 4.50 BYN with 2.70 BYN credit
The "World in your hand" SIM gives discounted international call rates and is aimed at visitors, while on the "start yo life:)", their regular domestic SIM card, domestic calls and texts are cheaper. You can activate the same data packs on both plans though. Change tariffs by *110#.
Data feature packagesEdit
For both plans/starters default internet rate is 0.24 BYN per MB outside of packages. These daily packs, valid for 24 hours are offered:
- 250 MB: 1.08 BYN - activation: *8121#
- 1.5 GB: 2.19 BYN - activation: *8122#
- 3 GB: 2.99 BYN - activation: *8123#
Packages auto-renew. To deactivate. type *110# and choose daily internet (Интернет на сутки).
On both plans these 2G/3G monthly packs can be activated, which have the same price as for local tariffs:
|50 MB||1.00 BYN||*8050#|
|100 MB||1.30 BYN||*8100#|
|250 MB||2.30 BYN||*8250#|
|500 MB plus
1 GB (1am-8am)
|1 GB||4.50 BYN||*8036#|
|2 GB*||6.90 BYN||*8102#|
|3 GB||5.90 BYN||*8117#|
|4 GB*||7.90 BYN||*8104#|
|8 GB*||9.90 BYN||*8108#|
|12 GB*||13.90 BYN||*8112#|
|16 GB*||14.90 BYN||*8116#|
|45 GB||31.90 BYN||*8111#|
To activate type *110*5*1# <call>. Speed is up to 21.6 Mbps where 3G is available, which is mainly in the cities. To check the balance type *100# and *105#.
Unused data allowances of the monthly packs marked with * will roll over to the next month, if you have activated their Накопление (accumulation) service by typing *110#. A maximum of two packages can roll over.
For overuse 0.04 BYN per MB is charged as long as a package is still running. All packages auto-renew. To stop, dial *110#. For add-on packages this choice is offered:
- 250 MB: 1.08 BYN
- 1.5 GB: 2.19 BYN
- 3 GB: 2.99 BYN
To activate dial *110# and choose package.
For the new 4G/LTE network of beCloud they offer special packages for the two plans mentioned above valid for 30 days. You need to have a 4G-enabled SIM and coverage:
- 2 GB (6 GB in the 1st month): 6.90 BYN, activation: *8141#
- 4 GB (12 GB in the 1st month): 7.90 BYN, activation: *8142#
- 8 GB (24 GB in the 1st month): 9.90 BYN, activation: *8143#
- 20 GB: 22.90 BYN
- 50 GB: 36.90 BYN
The first three packages will be throttled to 64 kBit/s for overuse, the last 2 will charge 0.04 BYN per MB.
Disabling useless options Edit
Those options may be enabled by default and cost useless money:
- Subscriber unavialable: to disable enter *120*5*3#
- Voicemail: to disable enter *120#.
- Who called?: to disable enter *120#
- automatic cost information after each debit (0.60 BYN per month): disable by *101#
- APN: internet.life.com.by
- Website in English