There are 3 network operators in the country from 2017:
- Tele2 (merging with Altel)
2G is up to EDGE on 900 MHz on all networks. 3G up to DC-HSPA+ on 2100 MHz on all networks. 4G/LTE started on Altel in 2013 on 1800 MHz and covers about 56% of the population in 2015. All of Kazakhstan’s cellular operators have launched 4G/LTE on 800 (band 20), 1800 MHz (band 3) or 2100 MHz (band 1) in every regional capital and expand services to most cities by the end by 2017.
Kcell and Beeline traditionally offer the best coverage and quality of service. In 2015 Tele2 and Altel (Kazakhtelecom) announced plans to put together their mobile operations in the country by creating a joint venture and merging their two networks in 2016/7. Altel shut down the last remaining CDMA network in 2015.
There are many small reseller offices in airports, train stations and shops, but their employees mostly don't speak English (except possibly in airports). You are required by law to present your ID at the point of purchase. This used to be enforced not so strictly in the past, but from 2018 registration is much stricter now.
In 2018 the government of Kazakhstan introduced a mandatory requirement for foreigners to register their handsets when visiting the country, says the minister of ITC. The requirement doesn‘t cover devices used for roaming services, as well as for M2M services. Foreign customers using local SIM cards of Kazakhstan mobile operators are required to register their devices.
Dialing rules for calls Edit
For dialing Kazakhstan has some specifics: The international dialing prefix is "8->10" - callers dial '8', wait for a tone, and then dial '10', followed by the country code, area code and number. The long distance and domestic mobile dialing prefix is "8" - callers dial '8', wait for a tone, and then dial the area code and number. Under an agreement with Russia, Kazakhstan uses the same country code "+7" like Russia. So for calls to Russia, you can skip international access and country codes.
You can cut costs for international calls by using call cards sold at mobile phone shops and kiosks. You scratch off a PIN, dial a local access number given on the card and further instructions then are available in English.
Kcell is the leading mobile provider in the country caring for 41% of mobile users. It's operated by GSM Kazakhstan Ltd. under the Kcell and Activ trademarks. It's partly owned by Swedish TeliaSonera and has the best coverage.
Kcell’s 2G network covers 96% of the population and 47% of the territory, while its 3G services are available to around 70% of the people: Coverage map by region. Kcell launched 4G/LTE in 2016 in Almaty, Atyrau, Aktau and Shymkent and through network sharing with Beeline in further 9 towns, open for prepaid. It's on 800 MHz (band 20) and 1800 MHz (band 3): 4G map.
Their SIM card is sold at their shops (service point locator). They charge you 1500 tenge including 1300 tenge preloaded credit. As a foreigner you need to provide your passport of a foreign citizen, a foreigner's residence permit in the Republic of Kazakhstan, a certificate of a stateless person or a diplomatic card. The basic prepaid plan is called 'Basic+' (Базалық+).
You can top-up at pay terminals or using recharge cards. They are sold for 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 tenge. To load, type *110*<13-digit voucher PIN>#. Or you can pay online by credit card.
Data feature package Edit
Mobile internet by default is charged at 20 ₸/MB on all tariffs. These packages are sold:
|10 MB||29 ₸||*444*1*1*1#||4 ₸/MB|
|20 MB||39 ₸||*444*1*1*2#||3 ₸/MB|
|40 MB||49 ₸||*444*1*1*3#||2 ₸/MB|
|100 MB||59 ₸||*444*1*1*4#||1 ₸/MB|
|30 days||5 GB||1490 ₸||*444*4*1*5#||throttled to
|10 GB||1990 ₸||*444*4*1*10#|
|20 GB||2990 ₸||*444*4*1*20#|
|30 GB||3990 ₸||*444*4*1*30#|
|40 GB||4990 ₸||*444*4*1*40#|
|3 months||20 GB
|8990 ₸||*444*3*1*3#||throttled to
|6 months||11990 ₸||*444*3*1*2#|
|12 months||14990 ₸||*444*3*1*1#|
All packages auto-renew. To stop the daily packs, type *444*1*4# and for the monthy packs *444*4*4#. To check status of the packages, type *444*1*3# for daily and *444*4*3# for monthly. You can reset high speed on monthly packs ahead by adding extra turbo packages:
- 500 MB: 200 ₸
- 1 GB: 400 ₸
- 2 GB: 600 ₸
- 5 GB: 1490 ₸
- 10 GB: 1990 ₸
Activation of the extra packages is by *190#. Validity is for the rest of the running time of the base package. Check balance by *100#.
More info Edit
- APN: internet
- Website in English: http://www.kcell.kz/en
Beeline is run by Kar-Tel under the license of Veon in Kazachstan. Beeline charges lower prices than Kcell while it's network is almost as good as Kcell's. In 2016 it launched 4G/LTE in the cities of Almaty, Aksay, Uralsk and Astana on 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz (Bands 1, 3, 20) opened for all users: 4G coverage map. You need to have one of the new 4G-enabled USIMs for LTE. By the end of 2017 it has covered 47% of population by 4G.
Beeline's SIM cards used to be available without registration, but this may have changed now. They are often sold on the streets for a very low price like 150-1000 tenge. Their default tariff line without monthly fees is called "For Conversations" (Сөйлесуге арналған) .
To top-up your credit you need to go to one of the many machines on the street.
Data feature package Edit
Default rate is 20 tenge for 50 MB of data up to 1 GB per month. These packages can be added:
|daily||100 MB||30 ₸||*623*1#|
|30 days||3 GB||890 ₸||*522*3#|
|5 GB||1190 ₸||*522*5#|
|10 GB||1390 ₸||*524*10#|
|12 GB||1790 ₸||*522*12#|
|20 GB||2590 ₸||*522*20#|
|30 GB||3290 ₸||*522*30#|
Data will be cut-off, when used up. All packages auto-renew. To stop, type *622*333#. Daily package is valid until midnight. To check data credit, type *106#. To check money credit, type *102#. These add-on packages for extra data are offered:
- 1 GB: 490 ₸, activation: *524*1#
- 3 GB: 990 ₸, activation: *524*3#
- 10 GB: 1390 ₸, activation: *524*10#
For nighttime use they offer unlimited internet from midnight to 7am for 150 ₸ per week. To activate enter *599*7#. It will auto-renew. To cancel type *599*0#.
More info Edit
- APN: internet.beeline.kz
- Website in Kazakh and Russian: https://www.beeline.kz
Tele2 (merging with Altel) Edit
Tele2 used to be an operator solely owned by the Swedish Tele2 Group. It had about 4000 base stations covering 85% of population making it one of the smaller networks in the country.
In November 2015 they agreed to a merger with Kazakhtelecom, owner of the Altel network (see below). The new company is now a joint venture of Tele2 and Kazakhtelecom. Tele2 started to resell Alltel's 4G/LTE on 1800 MHz in Astana, Almaty, Akmola, South Kazakhstan, Zhambyl, Karagandy, Kostanay and North Kazakhstan. In 2017 both networks are being integrated.
Tele2's SIM cards are available in their stores (list) and come in different plans. Those two without base rates and any included allowances are called:
- Бәрібір-2 (Anyway-2): activate by *122*7*1#
- Одан да арзанырақ! (Even cheaper!): activate by *122*8*1#
You can top-up online by international credit card or in Tele2 outlets. Check credit by *121#.
Data feature packages Edit
Data on the two plans mentioned above is 25 ₸ by default These data packs can be activated on the plans:
|daily||50 MB||27 ₸||*147*1*1#||*147*1*0#|
|100 MB||45 ₸||*147*2*1#||*147*2*0#|
|7 days||250 MB||139 ₸||*147*3*1#||*147*3*0#|
|400 MB||250 ₸||*147*4*1#||*147*4*0#|
|30 days||4 GB||940 ₸||*147*5*1#||*147*5*0#|
|7 GB||1290 ₸||*147*7*1#||*147*7*0#|
|15 GB||1490 ₸||*147*15*1#||*147*15*0#|
|1 year||12 GB/month||9600 ₸||*142#||n./a.|
All packages auto-renew if not disabled. To check consumption type *123*1*3#.
More info Edit
- APN: internet.tele2.kz
- Website in Kazakh and Russian: http://www.almaty.tele2.kz (for Almaty, other regions change on top right)
Altel (by Kazakhtelecom) Edit
Altel was the 4th operator run by Kazakhtelecom, the privatized incumbent provider. It used to run a CDMA network too, but this has been closed in 2015 and now they are on GSM-only.
Altel was the first to start 4G/LTE in Kazakhstan in 2013 on 1800 MHz. 56% of population in around 20 towns are covered so far: 4G coverage map.
The days of Altel have come to an end in 2017. In 2015 they agreed to a merger with Tele2 and in 2016/7 both networks were being united. The new company is a joint venture of Tele2 and Kazakhtelecom opening the better coverage of Tele2 to Altel users and has a market share of about 20%. In 2017 networks are still being integrated. Altel will be maintained as a premium brand under Tele2.
More info Edit
- APN: internet
- Website in Kazakh and Russian: http://www.altel.kz
Power Wifi Edit
Power Wifi is a rental service of portable 4G routers combined with powerbanks operating in Kazakhstan. You can book devices on website and pick them up at Almaty or Astana airports. Once your stay is over simply drop them back at the airport.
Powerbank capacity is 7800 mAh (allows 1 full charge of iPhone 6 + 20 hours work of the router). Router has 4G/LTE and you can connect up to 5 devices at once. The bundle consists of the powerbank with integrated router (ready-to-go), sleeve and charger. Traffic is soft-capped (with a FUP) of 1 GB per day. Management can be done through a special app.
Rental charge is US$ 2.90 per day. They accept all major credit cards or PayPal. You need to pay full amount in advance, including deposit of US$ 50, which is given back, once you return the device without damages.
- Website in English: http://powerwifi.com/