There are these networks operating in Belarus:
- MTS [МТС] (Russian owned)
- Velcom (owned by Telekom Austria)
- Life:) (owned by Turkish Turkcell)
- beCloud (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 Dec 2015. It now covers central parts of Minsk and by 2017 coverage will be extended to the regional cities of Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno and Mogilyov. By the end of 2018 the infrastructure operator’s 4G network will cover all regional centres and other towns with a population of 50,000 or more.
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 and not 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. New and old rubles will circulate in parallel from July 1 to December 31, 2016. All prices given in this article in are in new Belarussian rubles (BYN) now, for the old ruble (BYR) multiply with 10000.
Russian MTS (or MTC in Belarussian for Мабільныя ТэлеСістэмы) is the leading provider in Belarus. Its network is on par with Velcom, but 3G coverage is at 47% in 2016: MTS 2G 3G Coverage Map. 4G/LTE reselling of beCloud started in 2015. 4G coverage map
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 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. But bear in mind that you need to activate roaming or create a web site login while you are in Belarus. There is a small minimum balance requirement to activate roaming.
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 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 for more data:
- daily flat called Hyper Net (Гипер.Net): 1 GB of data on a calendar day (0-24 hrs local time) for 1.97 BYN. To activate and deactivate, type *111*421#. Overuse only 0.16 BYN per MB
- or one of these data packs (Гостевой Инет):
|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 is available, which is only in the cities. You can book more than one pack at a time. To know the remaining megabytes use USSD *558#. For the remaining credit *100#.
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. Though they may give better rates, some Russian language skills are mandatory to manage the SIM.
Their cheapest data plan is called Internet (Интернет) aimed at tablets and modems, but has voice and text too at high rates. You can change to this tariff by typing *111*13#.
These options are available for their Internet tariff line:
- daily flat called Hyper Net (Гипер.Net): 1 GB of data on a calendar day (0-24 hrs local time) for 1.97 BYN. To activate and deactivate, type *111*421#. Overuse: 0.16 BYN per MB
- 4 GB for 30 days: 7.28 BYN, overuse: 0.02 BYN/MB, activation: *534#, deactivation: *534*0#
- 8 GB for 30 days: 9.47 BYN, overuse: 0.02 BYN/MB, activation: *535#, deactivation: *535*0#
- 12 GB for 30 days: 13.01 BYN, overuse: 0.02 BYN/MB, activation: *536#, deactivation: *536*0#
- "unlimited" data for 30 days:
- with FUP: 100 MB/day: 7.80 BYN/month, activation: *741#, deactivation: *741*0#
- with FUP: 250 MB/day: 14.57 BYN/month, activation: *742#, deactivation: *742*0#
- with FUP: 1 GB/day: 26.03 BYN/month, activation: *743#, deactivation: *743*0#
- 4G/LTE packages using beCloud network:
- 25 GB for 30 days: 23.40 BYN, activation: *546#, deactivation: *546*0#
- 50 GB for 30 days: 32.00 BYN, activation: *547#, deactivation: *547*0#
All packages will auto-renew, if not disabled before. To know the remaining megabytes use USSD *558#. For the remaining credit *100#.
Disabling useless optionsEdit
Those options are enabled by default and customer money.
- "Тонинг" and "Мелодия дня". Ring-back tone. 0.72BYN/month. Disabling it has a one-off cost. To disable *300# (0.006 BYN) or sms "off" to number 300 (0.028 BYN)
- Voicemail. To disable ##002#.
- "Будь в курсе". Spam messages. The service is free but if you press "OK" in any of the spam messages, you'll have to pay. To disable *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 *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)
VelcomEditAustrian-owned Velcom is the strongest competitor of MTS in Belarus. Its network is on par or even slightly better on 3G at 69% coverage: Velcom 2G 3G coverage map. Velcom doesn't resell 4G/LTE yet.
Their prepaid card is called Privet (ПРИВЕТ). Like MTS, Velcom has a tourist plan that does not require the customer to be registered with the authorities in Belarus.
The Tourist Plan is sold for 5 BYN in their stores called service centers (Фирменные центры) (locator in English). To subscribe to a data and voice SIM a fee of 3.45 BYN is charged, including 1 GB of data traffic within 1 month after activation. The SIM expires one year after the last topup.
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 balance *120# and *120*3# to check the remaining internet traffic. 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: http://www.privet.by/en/tarifs/mobile_data/. 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 customer money.
- "Мелофон". Ring-back tone. 0.04 BYN/day (1.2BYN/month). To disable *424*5*1#.
- Voicemail. To disable *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 *145*9#.
- APN: wap.privet.by (for Tourist line)
- Username and Password: privet
- Website in English (for Velcom)
- Website in English (for Privet)
life:)EditTurkcell-owned, life:) is the smallest operator in Belarus. As its network is still limited, make a network scan before you buy a SIM card: It's 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 started in 2016 and can be used on regular data packages. You may need to change a new SIM card, if it's not LTE-enabled. 4G/LTE by it's own resources will be available from January 26, 2017 to all subscribers,
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 for 1.50 BYN with 0.60 BYN credit
- world in your hand: starter pack sold for 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 book the same data packs on both plans though. Change tariffs by *110#.
Data feature packagesEdit
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 monthly packs can be booked, which have the same price as for local tariffs:
|50 MB||0.85 BYN||*8050#|
|100 MB||1.18 BYN||*8100#|
|250 MB||2.08 BYN||*8250#|
|1 GB||4.00 BYN||*8036#|
|2 GB*||6.90 BYN||*8102#|
|3 GB||5.00 BYN||*110#|
|4 GB*||7.90 BYN||*8104#|
|8 GB*||9.90 BYN||*8108#|
|12 GB*||13.90 BYN||*8112#|
|16 GB*||14.90 BYN||*8116#|
|45GB @ 1Mbps||19.08 BYN||*8124#|
|45 GB||27.00 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. Packages include 4G/LTE too where avialbel. 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 social media the following packages valid for 30 daysare offered:
- life:) Viber: unlimited - 1st month free of charge, 2nd month 1.10 BYN, activation: *8105#
- life:) WhatsApp: unlimited (no VoIP calls) 1st month free of charge, 2nd month 1.10 BYN, activation: *8101#
- life:) VKontakte and Facebook: max. 500 MB - 2 BYN, activation: *8103#
For night use (1am-8am) a special discounted package is offered: life:) Internet Night with 10 GB at 5 BYR
- APN: internet.life.com.by
- Website in English