There are three networks operating in Belarus:
- MTS [МТС] (Russian owned)
- Velcom (owned by Telekom Austria)
- Life:) (owned by Turkish Turkcell)
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 third place with a lower coverage at very good prices.
2G is on 900 and 1800 Mhz, 3G on 2100 Mhz available in a limited area, 4G has not started yet but is planned for 2015.
The two major operators sell visitor or tourist SIMs which can be purchased and used without any registration.
It is hard to buy a SIM card in Belarus without showing your passport. All operators require this by the law. Some shops do not know how to deal with foreign (not Belarussian and not Russian) passports.
MTS (МТС)EditRussian MTS (Мабільныя ТэлеСістэмы) is the leading provider in Belarus. Its network is on par with Velcom, but 3G coverage is still limited outside the cities: MTS 2G 3G Coverage Map
Visitor plan (Гостевой)Edit
MTS has a visitor plan (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.
In contrast to Velcom, prepaid mini-SIMs and nano-SIMs are available at MTS. SIM expires 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.
Call quality between two MTS SIM cards in April 2014 (iPhone to Android) was even better than Viber or Skype.
Data feature packagesEdit
Default internet rate is 2,400 BYR per MB outside of packages.
On a visitor line, you can add these data packs:
- daily flat (Гипер.Net): 1 GB of data on a calendar day (0-24 hrs local time) for 12,900 BYR. To activate type *111*402#
- or one of these monthly data packs (Интернет Гостевой):
|Data Volume||Price||Activation code|
|100 MB||18,000 BYR||*811#|
|500 MB||33,000 BYR||*812#|
|1 GB||48,000 BYR||*813#|
|2 GB||72,000 BYR||*814#|
|3 GB||96,000 BYR||*815#|
|5 GB||120,000 BYR||*816#|
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 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.
Here is a good survey of their local data tariffs which split up internet traffic into night and day rates: http://en.mts.by/internet/internet_phone/. They are too complicated to show them all and many visitors will stick to the visitor tariff without being registered.
- APN: internet.mts.by
- Username and Password: mts
- Website in English (only a part of the offers)
- Website in Russian (all offers)
VelcomEditAustrian-owned Velcom is the strongest competitor of MTS in Belarus. Its network is on par and 3G outside of cities still patchy: Velcom 2G 3G coverage map
Their prepaid card is called Privet (ПРИВЕТ). Like MTS, Velcom has a tourist tariff that does not require the customer to be registered with the authorities in Belarus.
The SIM card is sold for 30,000 BYR in their stores called service centers (Фирменные центры) (locator in English). To subscribe to a data and voice SIM a fee of 28,800 BYR is charged, including 1 GB of data traffic within 1 month after activation.
In contrast to MTS, micro SIMs are not available for prepaid and need to be cut. The SIM expiry policy is a bit worse too, as periodic top-ups are required, unlike MTS where periodic balance decreases are sufficient.
Data feature packagesEdit
Default internet rate is 300 BYR 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||9,900 BYR||12,900 BYR|
|250 MB||18,900 BYR||24,900 BYR|
|450 MB||24,900 BYR||29,900 BYR|
|900 MB||34,900 BYR||42,900 BYR|
|1.8 GB||59,900 BYR||74,900 BYR|
|3.6 GB||n.a.||144,900 BYR|
To activate type *121*1*6# Speed is up to 21.6 Mbps where 3G is available, which is only in the cities. To check the balance *120# and *120*3# to check the remaining internet traffic. Overuse 300 BYR 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.
- 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: life;) 2G and 3G coverage map. Where available, they give data at very good rates.
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 15,000 BYR with 6,000 BYR credit
- world in your hand: starter pack sold for 45,000 BYR with 27,000 BYR 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 though.
Data feature packagesEdit
Default internet rate is 2,220 BYR per MB outside of packages. These daily packs, valid for 24 hours are offered:
- 250 MB: 9,900 BYR
- 1.5 GB: 19,800 BYR
- 3 GB: 27,000 BYR
To activate or 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||7,800 BYR|
|100 MB||10,800 BYR|
|250 MB||19,200 BYR|
|500 MB + 1 GB night||26,400 BYR|
|1 GB||36,000 BYR|
|2 GB||69,000 BYR|
|4 GB||79,000 BYR|
|8 GB||99,000 BYR|
|12 GB||139,000 BYR|
|16 GB||149,000 BYR|
|10 GB night only||43,560 BYR|
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# Night rate applies 1am to 8am local time. Unused data allowances of monthly packs 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.
- APN: internet.life.com.by
- Website in English