In the Russian Federation some special rules for mobile phones apply. You should check them first to avoid frustration. Basically, you can't expect anyone to speak English in this country. So you might print out the offer in Russian before to show what you want. To make it easier, the most important words are shown in Cyrillic too.
It's next to impossible to show all prices for Russia, because their pricing is immensely complex. The Russian Federation consists of 85 "federal subjects" which can be provinces, territories, federal cities or other districts and are called regions in this article. For every region even the same provider has different prices. So we only give it here for the Moscow region. They are the highest in the country; in other areas you can expect to pay less.
Living in this huge country, the residents have mostly more than one SIM card. Like in the US and China, every SIM is locked to a specified provider and region too. All calls, texts and even data traffic made outside the region lead to domestic roaming surcharges even within the same provider. Furthermore, when roaming, there are incoming charges even for calls from the same provider. So try to buy a SIM card in the region where you are going to use it most. The Russian anti-monopoly authority tries to get rid of all domestic roaming surcharges. They have announced the end for 2017, but this hasn't happened. Now in 2018 the scrapping of all roaming surcharges can be expected and "regional" prices will become the same as "national".
The complicated dialing of phone numbers within Russia is explained in detail in this wiki. To avoid any problems with Russian-style dialling, it's better to dial all numbers in international style with "+" sign and country code.
No more intra-Russian roaming charges Edit
In autumn 2018 all intra-Russian roaming surcharges have been coming to an end. All four major mobile operators have now ceased all forms of additional charging for their own network users travelling between Russian regions. The last elements of on-net roaming fees to be cancelled were additional costs for receiving incoming domestic calls. Beeline was first to remove the incoming call charges on 20 August 2018, followed by Tele2 on 27 August, MTS on 30 August and Megafon on 1 September.
Now all allowances like data packages are valid all over Russia nationwide without additional fees. This doesn't apply to the Crimea region as there different providers operate and usage is considered as roaming.
Have in mind that internet access to some websites is "controlled" or censored. The official targets are porn, drug abuse, suicide, pedophilia, terrorist and separatist combat organizations and copyright infringement (official black list in Russian only, unofficial Wikipedia about the situation in English), but recently major sites like LinkedIn social network and Zello voice chat have been blocked too by court order after it refused to store data in Russia. About 4000 websites are on Russia's blacklist now and one can argue, if they all fit into the given categories. In 2018 the popular messenger app Telegram was banned by court order for refusing to give Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) encryption keys that would grant access to user messaging data.
So you might think of installing a VPN app to safeguard anonymity. A new law enforced from November 2017 threatens to ban all VPN and proxy services in order to make sure blacklisted sites can't be accessed. All internet providers are required to block websites that offer any VPN services, while blocking all VPN traffic is technically not feasible.
Nowadays there are no technical obstacles to prevent using TOR and VPN protocols implemented. You can use PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN, SSH and SOCKS technologies, as only few "anonymizer websites" and some popular Russian-owned public VPNs banned. Be aware of this situation and draw your own conclusions.
Russia uses European frequencies throughout its country: 2G is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G (up to HSPA+) on 900 and 2100 MHz mainly in the cities and 4G/LTE on 800 and 2600 MHz started in 2012/3 on all operators and is available for prepaid without surcharges in the major towns. Lately, 1800 MHz was added by all three providers. Additionally many operators also operate TD-LTE networks in the Moscow region, these are often 2600 MHz but instead of FDD-LTE (Band 7) they are on 2600 MHz TD-LTE (Band 38). Tele2's LTE (TD-LTE) is on 2300 MHz (Band 40). In 2017 the regulator released the 2100 MHz (Band 1) previously used only for 3G, to be used for 4G/LTE too.
Tele2 also runs special purpose 450 MHz 4G/LTE (band 31) network in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Tver regions since July 2016. The main purpose of this network is to cover some rural areas with poor coverage of other frequencies. Also it's used by some government and emergency services and payphones. It's open for prepaid customers, but not recommended as it requires special equipment. There are no smartphones and tablets for this band; only some modems and routers available.
If you are looking for 4G/LTE, make sure you device supports the frequency bands. See information on each provider for details on what bands they use.
There are five national mobile network operators active in Russia:
- MegaFon (МегаФон)
- MTS (MTC)
- Beeline (Билайн)
- Tele2 (Теле2), owned and controlled by state provider Rostelecom
- Yota (Йота), joint venture with MegaFon
MegaFon has the best nationwide coverage and good speeds in cities at the highest prices. It is considered by many as the premier network in the country and the first one that covered all 83 regions (except Crimea).
MTS is at present the biggest operator with more than 100 million customers and it is licensed in 83 regions of the country. It is the only provider operator that can be used in Crimea.
Beeline is 3rd nationwide operator working in 78 regions. It is popular for calling to CIS countries.
Tele2 by Rostelecom is building a fourth national network active in 60 regions after they merged into a joint venture in 2014.
Yota is a virtual operator (MVNO) which is a 100% subsidiary of MegaFon. It uses MegaFon's radio access network but a separate switching and billing system. Yota's main point is fully unlimited data traffic but with some restrictions such as blocked P2P networks or tethering. Although the network is the same, you may not have access to LTE in some regions where Yota SIM cards are not sold, unlike MegaFon subscribers who would (this is due to licence restrictions).
At the end of 2017 Megafon had 206,000 base stations, MTS 151,000, Tele2 122,000 and Beeline 114,000 all over Russia.
Meanwhile Russia's MVNOs market remains relatively small. It's set to reach 6.8 million subscribers in total by the end of 2017, which would be less than 2% of all mobile phone users.
In 2014, Crimea or Crimean Peninsula became de facto part of the Russian Federation. For legal reasons, separate network providers operate in this region. For more details refer to our special article about this territory.
Buying a SIM cardEdit
There are still 4 different ways of buying a SIM card in Russia: the official, the semi-official and two unofficial.
- In the official provider stores, you will need to present your passport (containing the Russian visa, if applicable for you, and the migration card with an entry stamp on it) to get a SIM card. For some cases, you can present a certificate of registration at the place of temporary/permanent residence (so called "temporary/permanent propiska") instead of the migration card, but for the majority of visitors a foreign passport (with the Russian visa and the migration card) will work; however, some dealers do not know how to deal with a foreign passport. This way is recommended if you have limited knowledge of Russian and need at least some help with setting up.
- Some electronic or cell phone shops will also set you up skipping some paper work. They might be easier to deal with but charge you a commission of 10-20% for their work. This is especially recommended if you don't speak Russian and need someone who speaks English.
- Another option is buying a SIM card in a kiosk or at the subway entrance and some railway stations. This is illegal way according to Russian law, but it is still popular. The card usually costs RUB 100 to 200 and some of that sum appears as a credits on the account balance. Neither ID nor any other of your documents required, these cards are pre-activated and already registered to someone's (possibly fictional) name. The worst that can happen - the sudden block (ban) and you lose your RUB 100. Usually it's OK though. There will be no support, either in English or in Russian. You cannot replace (restore) such cards in case of loss, damage or ban.
- You can order a SIM card on eBay (search for one of the operators in the SIM cards section) or at other websites. They may help you with English-speaking support, delivery and registration. But you will pay a surcharge for this service: SIM card with RUB 100 balance will cost you $9-$11 / €9 or more.
As an alternative to buying local SIM cards, it is possible to rent on a daily basis portable WiFi hotspots which provide unlimited speed and data internet access via 4G/3G. WIfiinrussia.com allows to arrange such rent of pocket WiFi online. Daily rent will cost you $5-$7, and you can connect all device of all your family or team to one hotspot simultaneously. Official registration of a subscriber is performed in accordance with Russian legislation.A new law, imposing a ban on SIMs sales without the presentation of an ID, is expected to go into effect in Russia from 1st January, 2018. The legal amendments to law [Law No. 126-FZ] are in effect since 1 June, 2018 . These means that a communication operator is obliged to verify the reliability of the personal data of subscribers. If the subscriber does not pass the verification, the operator will be forced to suspend the provision of communication services. From experience this means that pre-activated SIM cards, will be usable for 10 days or less before they get de-activated. Also if multiple SIM cards are registered/bought to your name these might also be deemed to be suspicious and might not pass verification.
Be aware that Russia is not part of the EU, nor the EEA, where since 2017 new international roaming rules have been enforced. So roaming rates on European SIM cards are not capped or regulated in Russia and can be much higher. Better buy a local SIM card instead.
MegaFon (mostly owned by russian USM Holding) is one of three biggest Russian mobile operators. Many users consider MegaFon the best network in Russia for its nationwide coverage and high internet speed. However, the actual speed can vary due to overcrowding.
MegaFon was the first that started a 3G (on 2100 and 900 MHz) and 4G/LTE network in Russia. This is the only network that is available in every region of the country except Crimea and Sevastopol (see the coverage map). Their LTE is mostly on 2600 MHz and has reached all 83 regions where they operate. 800 MHz and 1800 MHz exist too, but have very limited coverage and are unlikely to be seen.
It sees itself as market leader, but its rates can be higher than other operators. The following prices are given for Moscow region and are generally lower in other regions.
General information Edit
- You can recharge online by credit card or via PayPal using a 3rd party agency website like Recharge.com or Ding. Most EU, US and CIS countries cards are accepted. They will charge an additional fee for it.
- International roaming is active by default. You can receive incoming SMS, check the account balance for free, and even make and receive voice calls outside Russia.
- To check your account balance, dial *100# and get the balance on the screen for free. To check remaining data and other allowances (in bundles), dial *558#.
- Correct Internet settings (APN, login and password) are not required. It works with any settings.
- MegaFon SIM cards are valid for 90 days since the last chargeable action. After 90 days of no usage, your account balance will be decremented by RUB 5 on a daily basis until the balance reaches zero, following which the number will be disconnected (terminated). To prevent this, you should make any chargeable action such as an outgoing voice call or send a text message (SMS). Recharging your account won't extend its lifetime! The easiest way to do this from outside Russia is to send a text message (SMS) to yourself.
- The cheapest way is to use MegaFon's VoIP service (previously known as MultiFon or "МультиФон"), which is based on SIP protocol. You can use MegaFon's own mobile application called eMotion (for iPhone or Android) or any third party SIP client (Zoiper, CSIPsimple or any other application - configuration and settings required). VoIP calls to MegaFon numbers of the same region as yours are charged from your SIM card's balance at RUB 0.80 per minute (or part thereof). If you use both the eMotion and a third party SIP application simultaneously, you can make a VoIP call to yourself every 90 days in order to keep your SIM active indefinitely.
- Moscow Metro promotion: Megafon has started offering free mobile internet traffic to customers accessing social networks, messengers and music services in the Moscow Metro. The promotion is valid until the end of August 2018 and is available for subscribers of 'Connect!' 'All Inclusive' and 'Warm Welcome' tariffs. The list of social networks includes VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The list of messengers and music services contains WhatsApp, Viber, eMotion, TаmТаm, Facebook Messenger. Yandex.Music, Boom, Zvooq, Google Play Music, and Apple Music, among others.
How to disable foisted trial, promotion and other useless options Edit
To avoid unnecessary charges, please ensure that all foisted paid options turned off. Those options are sometimes enabled by default (depends on region and plan). The best way to disable them is uncheck them all through online account management website (available only in Russian). First of all, you should obtain a password for website login.
Also you can disable the foisted options by dialing a special command from your phone:
- "Who called me?" ("Кто звонил") - a pingback, missed call notice. Dial *581*3# to disable.
- "SMS XXS" - Monthly SMS messages package. Often activates as promotion. Dial *105*1025#, then reply with "2" to disable it and finally reply with "1" to confirm.
- Disable all Internet Packs (if you have any of them) including promotional "Internet XS" (free for 7 days): *236*00*1#. Don't forget to disable Internet Packs before leaving Russia if you want to keep SIM card and loaded money for the next time.
- Kaleidoscope ("Калейдоскоп"). Annoying spam messages. Doesn't cost anything by itself, but if you press "yes" (even by mistake) on them you can end up with spam subscriptions for about RUB 5/day each, easily tripling your cost. Also it can hang up your modem. It doesn't show up in online account management website. To disable dial *808*0#.
- "Instant credit" ("Кредит доверия"/"Плати когда удобно"). Provides an instant loan. Unsafe as you can end up owing money to provider if you don't settle the debt. To disable, dial *550*1#.
Their SIM cards is available at MegaFon branded offices ("салон") (location map). This way you need an official ID (a passport, sometimes with valid visa or migratory card). But you can also buy a pre-activated SIM card in a kiosk or at the subway entrance. This way you don't need an ID, it costs around 100 RUB (same price as in the official shop), it is already activated and has some credit.
You can buy a SIM card online with a surcharge with worldwide delivery and English support (look at eBay)
They offer different prepaid plans without monthly fee:
Switch to ZERO ("Переходи на НОЛЬ"),
Around the world ("Вокруг света"),
Warm Welcome ("Тёплый приём").
MegaFon Online data-only plan ("МегаФон-Онлайн")
and their combo plans with included allowances called Connect! ("Включайся!")
Switch to ZERO ("Переходи на НОЛЬ") and Everything is easy ("Всё просто") prepaid plans Edit
These standard plans are good for calling to other MegaFon users mainly within the same region.
You can set this plans by dialing *105*1005*1# (Switch to ZERO) or *105*0041*1# (Everything is easy).
For data, internet package "Internet XS" is automatically activated by default. It gives you 70 MB per day valid only in domestic region (Moscow area) for 30 days. Outside of domestic region internet usage is expensive by default (9.9 RUB/MB). If you don't need it, disable by dialing *236*00*1#.
"Warm Welcome" prepaid plan ("Тёплый приём")Edit
This is a good solution for international calls from Moscow area. New SIM card costs 200 RUB.
Calling rates (valid only in Moscow area):
- to other MegaFon numbers with same plan and same region - free (limited to 100 min/day).
- to other phones in Moscow 2 RUB/min,
- to MegaFon numbers of other regions - 2.5 RUB,
- to other Russian numbers - 10 RUB/min.
- to CIS and xUSSR countries - 3.5...20 RUB/min
- to China, India, Vietnam, Turkey and Japan - 2...7 RUB/min
You can switch to this plan from any other by dialing *105*0046*1#.
It has the same base data plan as Switch to ZERO and Everything is easy. Recently, they issued two combo variants of Warm Welcome with data (WhatsApp, Viber, eMotion, imo, VKontakte, Odnoklassniki is free) and voice and SMS allowances added:
- Warm Welcome S: for 300 RUB monthly, it includes unlimited calls to MegaFon and 300 mins to all networks, 200 SMS and 4 GB data, activation: *105*1082#. For more data, use extension packs ("Продли скорость").
- Warm Welcome M: for 600 RUB monthly, it includes unlimited calls to MegaFon and 500 mins to all networks, 300 SMS and 10 GB data, activation: *105*1083#. For more data, use extension packs ("Продли скорость") or for a 1.70 RUB daily subscription rate unlimited mobile data at the maximum speed available on the network.
The #Hello tariff was introduced for the World Cup 2018 and is valid for 14 days. It costs 700 RUB and includes 30 GB of data, unlimited Megafon calls and 30 minutes of calls to national and to some international destinations, 30 SMS and unlimited access to WhatsApp, Viber, eMotion, Facebook Messenger, Facebook and Instagram. If you want to keep using he account after 14 days, make sure you put 700 RUB in your MegaFon account. Then a new period of 14 days starts and all allowances are renewed.
When the allowance for calling and SMS is used up, you can continue calling and texting against the regular tariff (as long you have got money in your account).
If you have used up you internet allowance you have to activate a separate bundle:
- 1 GB: 210 RUB - activation: *370*1*1#
- 5 GB: 450 RUB - activation: *370*2*1#
When that internet bundle is used up dial: *370# to recharge that bundle again. For the #Hello plan automatic recharge of internet does not seem to be working.
"Around the World" prepaid plan ("Вокруг света") Edit
This is probably the best MegaFon plan in Moscow region for visiting foreigners. There is no monthly fee, pure pay-as-you-go. This is the only plan that has no roaming charges inside the whole country: all incoming calls are always free, all outgoing calls from anywhere in Russia to any number in Russia are 3 RUR per min (while inside Moscow - all local calls for 1.8 RUB/min). So e.g. when traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg you won't be ripped off.
This plan is the most "universal" solution if you need calling and data and visiting more than one region of Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg, Kazan and Samara, Sochi and Moscow, etc).
If you want to use mobile internet, you still need to choose and attach a separate data package (see below), and you should ask the assistant to remove any foisted paid options/features that can eat your balance in a couple of days. Dial *105*678*1# to choose "Around the World" plan.
This plan gives your the ability to combine low rates without monthly fee, separate data packages and calling discount options to build the optimal package for your needs.
"MegaFon Online" data-only plan ("МегаФон-Онлайн")Edit
MegaFon sells a data-SIM mainly for tablets or modems. It is called "MegaFon Online" ("МегаФон-Онлайн"). Start-up price is 200 RUB and any regular SIM can be switched to this plan by typing *510*1#.
Its only benefit is a better default data rate with 2.50 RUB per MB in home region and 9.90 RUB elsewhere (with hourly rounding to 150 KB)! So you should better buy a data pack.
This plan also allows calling and texting, but the price for all calls is bad. It's a good idea to choose any other plan in many cases instead.
Data feature packagesEdit
For all plans above the same monthly data packs are available:
|S||400 RUB||5 GB||smartphones and tablets only,
not valid in modems and routers
|M||550 RUB||12 GB||for all devices||*236*3*1#|
|L||900 RUB||20 GB||For all devices||*236*4*1#|
|XL||1300 RUB||30 GB||for modems only
unlimited nightly data (1am-7am)
All packages have full 4G/LTE speed, where available. Dial *558# to check remaining data volume. Unlimited nightly data bonus is valid from 1am-7am Moscow time (GMT+03:00).
All packages auto-renew, if not stopped by *236*00# (dial *236*00#, press "call" button, then reply with "1" to confirm the package de-activation).
For more data, you can add an extension pack ("Продли скорость"):
- 70 MB for a day: 19 RUB: - activation: *372#
- 1 GB: 175 RUB - activation: *370*1*1#
- 5 GB: 400 RUB - activation: *370*2*1#
Extra data is only valid for the remaining time of the base package.
You can disable all active Internet Packs by dialing *236*00*1#.
Combo plans - "Connect!" series ("Включайся!") Edit
MegaFon has changed its portfolio and discontinued the All (Всё) combo plans. Their new combos are called "Connect!" (Включайся!) and are now valid nationwide:
|"Пиши" Write||400 RUB||3 GB||300 mins||Messengers*, 300 SMS||*789*2#|
|"Говори" Talk||500 RUB||4 GB||700 mins||Messengers*||*789*4#|
|"Слушай" Listen||500 RUB||15 GB||300 mins||Messengers*, Music***||*789*3#|
|600 RUB||15 GB||600 mins||Messengers*,
|"Смотри" Watch||750 RUB||20 GB||750 mins||Messengers*,
20 GB for YouTube,
Free TV pack
|"Смотри+" Watch+||1000 RUB||30 GB||1500 mins||*789*8#|
|3000 RUB||20 GB||5000 mins||*789*7#|
- *Messengers pack includes unlimited WhatsApp, Viber, eMotion, Telegram and Facebook Messenger;
- **Social Media pack includes free Facebook, Instagram, VK.com (VKontakte), OK.ru (Odnoklassniki);
- ***Music pack gives free BOOM, Zvooq and Yandex.Music traffic (only free traffic, no free subscription included).
- All packages include unlimited calls within MegaFon network.
All data allowances are valid all over Russia except Magadan, Sakhalin island, Yakutia, Chukotka, Kamchatka peninsula, Norilsk city, Taymyr region, Crimea peninsula and Sevastopol, where the basic data rate 9.9 RUB per MB is active.
Check remaining allowances by *558#, check your current plan by dialing *105*3#. When data is used up, you can activate an extension pack mentioned above at Data feature packages.
Beware than when you get a new SIM with this plan or switch to it, you only pay half of the price but get only half of the allowance for 15 days and get/pay the other half after 15 days
- APN: internet (It should work with any other APN settings too).
- All given prices are valid for Moscow only, other rates may apply in other regions.
- Basic website in English
- Extended website in Russian only
MTS (or MTC in Russian, stands for Mobile TeleSystems, "Мобильные ТелеСистемы" owned by russian Systema group) is the biggest mobile provider in Russia by the number of subscribers. It's available in most regions of the country and gives good speeds at somewhat lower prices than MegaFon (coverage map).
There are some plans and bundles that work even on the Crimean Peninsula on Win Mobile. The prices below are given for the Moscow region. MTS is associated with Vodafone, which is also their favorite roaming partner. Nevertheless, MTS roaming prices in foreign countries are very high.
3G is on 2100 MHz and 900 MHz. LTE is on 2600 MHz in the form of both FDD-LTE and TDD-LTE (on bands 7 and 38) and on 800 and 1800 MHz. 4G/LTE coverage has reached all 83 regions where MTS operates in 2016. 55% is on 1800 MHz, the others on 800 and 2600 MHz.
SIM cards are available in mini-, micro- and nano-size at their branded stores (shop locations). You can also find them at cellphone shops, dealers, or in other electronics shops. All new SIM cards come in 3-in-1 (triple cut) size now, no need to cut.
SIM card expires after 90 days of inactivity. To extend this term, make a call or send a text message. There is no way to see, how many days are remaining.
You can top-up online by international credit card or PayPal with 3rd party agency or by buying vouchers in Russia. To check your account balance, dial *100# (in Russian) or #100# (in English) for free. To check last 5 charges in 3 days dial *152*1#.
Removing foisted options Edit
To avoid unnecessary charges, please ensure that all foisted paid options turned off. MTS often activates them without your permit - as a promotion, to let you try, or something else. Dial the deactivation sequence and press the "call" button. You should receive an SMS for confirmation that service is disabled:
- GOOD'OK: Plays RBT (ring-back tone) music and ads when calling - removal: *111*29#
- You've got a call ("Вам звонили!"): Missed call notice - removal: *111*38#
- MTS Radio: plays audio ads when making outgoing calls - removal: *567*0#
- MTS Ads: SMS newsletter with ads - removal: *111*374#
Prepaid voice plans (Тарифы для звонков) Edit
Prepaid plans have no monthly fee. You will pay only for used services (per each minute of call, per each SMS, per each MB of mobile data). Data is not included and at a high 9.90 RUR per MB:
- Super MTS (Супер МТС): Probably the best voice plan available for time-to-time calling. Main advantage of this plan are unlimited outgoing calls to other MTS numbers of same region per day and most of Moscow landline numbers plus 100 MB. Starter price: 100 RUR or change to this tariff by *111*8888# for 150 RUB.
- Your country (Твоя Страна): Good plan for calls to another regions of Russia, CIS ans some Asian countries (China, Vietnam). Useless for calling to another coutries, no discounts for EU, GB, USA. Change to this by *111*741# for 150 RUB.
- Red Energy: 1.6 RUB per min for all calls inside the region. Starter price: 150 RUB, change by *111*727#
These monthly options can be added to all prepaid voice plans mentioned above for internet access:
- BIT (БИТ): daily 75 MB data for 200 RUB per month. For additional data 50 MB packs at 8 RUB are added automatically. A day is from midnight in the associated time zone. Activation: *111*252#
- SuperBIT (СуперБИТ): 3 GB data for 350 RUB per month. For additional data 500 MB packs at 75 RUB are added automatically. Activation: *111*628#.
- Online (ВСети): a social media plan for 4 RUB per day giving unlimited access to VКontakte, Odnoklassniki, Facebook, FB Messenger, Instagram,
Telegram, Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Twitter, Snapchat and Twitch; activation: *345#; deactivation: *111*345*2#.
- Internet 4 Mbit/s (Интернет 4 Мбит/сек.): slow unlimited internet plan throttled to 4 Mbit/s for streaming devices with unlimited internet at 750 RUB per month. If tethering is detected, speed will be further throttled to 512 kbit/s. Can't be combined with an Mini, Maxi or VIP package. Activation through internet.mts.ru
|Internet Mini||500 RUB||7 GB||*160#||500 MB: 75 RUB|
|Internet Maxi||800 RUB||15 GB (#)||*161#||1 GB: 150 RUB|
|Internet VIP||1200 RUB||30 GB (#)||*162#||3 GB: 350 RUB|
Activation is by code, app or online. Remaining data volume can be checked by dialing *217#. All packages auto-renew after 30 days. To deactivate type activation code and replace # by *2#.
Smartphone plans (Для смартфона) Edit
Smart series offers combo plans with a monthly fee with included calls, SMS and data. Often it's a better choice than adding a data pack to regular voice plan. Big advantage of this plans is their nationwide availability (valid in all regions, not only in domestic area and on the Crimea too).
Monthly fee is deducted from your account balance at the moment of plan activation. The next debit will be exactly 30 days after the date of activation. If your account balance is not sufficient for next monthly fee, all services (voice and data) will be temporarily suspended. To unblock, recharge your account.
These plans are only for smartphones and tablets usage. Using them in modems or mobile routers is prohibited with a warning message displayed. MTS detects most used modems and routers by their IMEI number and blocks the mobile data usage in such devices. However, tethering is not blocked and confirmed as usable on these plans:
|Smart mini||400 RUB||2 GB||350 mins (on-net)||350||*111*1023#|
|Smart||500 RUB||5 GB||550 mins (national)||550||*111*1024#|
|Our Smart||1000 RUB||25 GB #||1500 mins (national)||1500||*111*1025#|
|Smart Top||1950 RUB||20 GB||3000 mins (national)||3000||*111*1026#|
|Ultra||2900 RUB||20 GB||5000 mins (national)||5000||*111*777#|
|Hype (Хайп)||500 RUB||7 GB +
|100 mins (on-net)||200||*111*1010#|
| 300 mins (nat), 300 SMS included
500 mins (nat), 500 SMS +60 RUB
700 mins (nat), 700 SMS +150 RUB
900 mins (nat), 900 SMS +300 RUB
All Smart plans include unlimited calls to other MTS Russia numbers. (#) = Our Smart enables to share these data with up to 5 numbers.
Social media in the Hype plan includes unlimited use of VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, Facebook, Twitter, Skype,
Telegram, WhatsApp, Viber, Snapchat, YouTube, МТS Music, Apple Music, Google Music, Zvooq, App Store, Google Play, МТS Connect and some games.
To check the remaining data, SMS and minutes, dial *100*1#. To check balance, dial *100#. For overuse on the Smart mini plan 95 RUB per 500 MB are charged up to 15 times, on Smart plan 75 RUB per 500 MB and on other plans 150 RUB per 1 GB.
For more data you can better add one of these add-on packages for 30 days:
- + 3 GB: 300 RUB - activation: *111*1417*1#
- + 5 GB: 400 RUB - activation: *111*1517*1#
- + 10 GB: 500 RUB - activation: *111*1617*1#
- + 20 GB: 600 RUB - activation: *111*1817*1#
Data-only plans (Тарифы для интернета) Edit
- Tablet plan (Тариф Для планшета): data plan for tablets with 10 GB nationwide for a month at 550 RUB. Overuse is charged at high 95 RUB per 500 MB.
- Laptop plan (Тариф Для ноутбука): data plan for routers and dongles in mobile computers at 800 RUB with unlimited data at 800 RUB throttled to 4 Mbit/s.
- Smart Device plan (Тариф Умное устройство): data plan for IoT and other devices at 670 RUB for the 1st year including 300 MB internet, 30 mins (regional and on-net) and 30 SMS.
- MTS-Connect 4 (МТС Коннект-4): data plan aimed at modems only in combination with an USB dongle or WiFi hotspot router
- APN: internet.mts.ru - It works with any settings
- Tethering is officially allowed
- Extended website (in Russian): http://www.mts.ru/
- Basic website (in English): http://www.mtsgsm.com/
Beeline is the 3rd operator in the country at the moment owned by Veon (formerly Vimpelcom Group). Beeline works in almost all regions of Russia, their 3G coverage is concentrated in populated places, but still limited in rural areas. 4G/LTE coverage is available in 246 cities in 58 regions covering roughly half of the Russian population in 2016. Check the coverage map: there are still some black spots mainly at the far east (coverage map).
Nowadays, Beeline's 2G network is sensibly degraded. There are some voice calls clarity and data transfer speed issues, related to the signal strength and coverage. However, this operator provides good rates for international calling, especially to CIS countries where Beeline own and partner networks are available.
Prices below are given for Moscow region. For 4G/LTE access, make sure your device supports Beeline's LTE bands (on 2600, 1800 and 800 MHz).
General information Edit
All SIM cards are valid for 3 months (89 days) since the date of the last chargeable usage. There is no way to see how many days are remaining. To prevent blocking and save your number, you should make any paid action at least once every 3 months by sending a text message or making an outgoing call.
You can recharge your number with your credit card or via PayPal using 3rd part top-up agencies like this service for a surcharge. Lots of EU, US, UK and CIS countries credit cards are accepted (Visa or MasterCard).
To check your balance, dial *102# for free. The balance is displayed on your phone screen. On some plans the more common combination *100# also works.
Just get any prepaid SIM card (you can buy it at Beeline offices, cellphone shops like "Euroset" ("Евросеть"), Sviaznoy ("Связной"), "Know-How" ("Ноу-Хау") and many others for a start up price of about 100-200 RUR without preloaded credits or with 50-150 RUB preloaded. Some shops sell cards at higher price (charging you 10-20% more), but they will help you to register your SIM card. Also you can buy it on eBay or try to find in the kiosks or at the streets (dealer stands).
You can buy a new SIM card with one of their prepaid plans or change to this plan by dialling a code:
- Zero doubts ("Ноль сомнений"): main Beeline prepaid plan for phones without monthly fee. Nothing included except an initial preloaded credits (in most often cases 50..200 RUB). This plan is good only for calling to other Beeline numbers. To switch to this tariff dial 0674000999.
- Per second ("Посекундный"): very rare in stock, without monthly fee. This plan is relatively good for calling other local numbers as it offers per second billing. However, its rates aren't very good. To switch to this tariff dial 0674100200.
The only package for data on these two plans above is their expensive 1.5 GB pack for the month which will be auto-enabled as soon as you use more than 1 MB. It's for 240 RUB, but debited as 8 RUB per day.
- All! ("Всё!"): most widely sold combo plans with monthly fee and included bundles, for details see below.
For tablets, routers and modems they offer data-focused plans, that include voice calls and SMS at a higher rate:
- Gigabyte (Гигабайт): This data plan is very good for travelling as it's valid all over Russia. 1 GB is sold at 100 RUB and you can buy as many packs as you like. Change by *110*0512#
- Internet for tablets (Интернет для планшета): This plan for tablets includes 10 GB per month at 550 RUB. Change by *110*1024#. For more data Gigabyte (see above) packs can be added.
- Internet for computers (Интернет для компьютера): This plan for modems includes 25 GB per month at 1200 RUB. Change by *110*2048#. For more data Gigabyte (see above) packs can be added.
- Signal (Сигнал): This plan is for M2M devices like GPS routers or alarm systems. It has a flat fee of 1 RUB per day and 2 RUB per MB.
All Highway internet packages have been discontinued.
Special offer for the World Cup Edit
Like MegaFon Beeline has issued a special tariff for visitors of the World Cup in June/July 2018 called Welcome! The offer includes unlimited mobile internet at up to 3.6 Mbps and 30 minutes of outgoing calls to Russia and most foreign countries. Incoming calls are free. Subscribers pay 700 RUB for the first 14 days at activation and additional weeks cost 350 RUB each. More info about this plan in English can be found here.
"All!" Combo plans (тарифы серии "Всё!") Edit
Like MTS, Beeline has monthly combo plans with included allowances of voice calls, SMS and data valid all over Russia:
|Plan||Fee/month||charged||Calling time included||SMS||Data||Activation|
|per day||to Beeline||Other dom. calls|
|All 1||400 RUB||13.33 RUB||300 mins||300||3 GB||0674000111|
|All 2||600 RUB||20 RUB||unlimited||500 mins||300||15 GB||0674000222|
|All 3||900 RUB||30 RUB||unlimited||1200 mins||300||22 GB||0674000333|
|All 4||1500 RUB||50 RUB||unlimited||2000 mins national||300||30 GB||0674000444|
|All 5||2500 RUB||83.3 RUB||unlimited||5000 mins||300||30 GB||0674000555|
When data volume is used up, the "auto-renewal rate" will be charged: 100 MB for 50 RUB. In this case it may be better to add a Highway pack. Beeline's "All" plans renew automatically every 30 days.
At the Beeline store be sure to get a prepaid ("предоплата"), not a postpaid ("постоплата") plan that sales agents may try to sell to you. Watch out, as both plan types bear the same name and like in English both words look similar.
Internet sharing option Edit
Beeline offers an option which allows you to share the included data allowance in the "All" combo plans with other Beeline users of same region, not to be mixed up with tethering. So if you have 2 or more Beeline SIM cards from the same region you can share one "All" combo package with other user without paying for 2nd "All" bundle.
Certain limitations apply: You can share your internet allowance only on "All 3", "All 4" and "All 5" packages. You can select 1, 2 or 3 additional numbers for sharing your package. Adding each shared user increases the monthly fee to 150 RUB (5 RUB daily). To add the user to your "group", it should be the Beeline customer of same region. The other number selected for sharing can only use your data pack, while calling and texting not. It's often better to buy a smaller separate package for other SIM card instead of using this feature.
- APN: internet.beeline.ru
- Password and username: beeline
- English-speaking customer service: 0511
- Basic website in English
- Extended website in Russian
Tele2 / Rostelecom (Теле2, Ростелеком)EditIn 2014 Swedish Tele2 group ceased all operations in Russia and sold their brand and network to state-owned Rostelecom, that used to be the 4th largest provider in the country. It operates in about 59 regions of Russia (written in Latin letters here). So their coverage is still very patchy (coverage map) as they don't have licenses for some areas.
Tele2 Russia commercially launched LTE on 1800 MHz (B3) in 2014 and rollouts in most major cities began throughout 2015. Further LTE networks have been launched on B7 (2600 MHz) and B20 (800 MHz), with smaller LTE-TDD deployments over B40 (2300 MHz) primarily in Krasnodar and Sochi districts. The company commercially launched B31 (450 MHz) LTE under the SkyLink banner in May 2016, initially in regional areas and gradually expanding to cover St. Petersburg and Moscow within the same year.
There is a notable "black spot" for 2G in the European part of Russia in Moscow. Tele2 started to work in Moscow in October 2015. They decided to build only a 3G/4G network here and there is no roaming on other 2G networks and no future plans for 2G coverage (GSM 900/1800) within Moscow area. With a 90% coverage, there are still some coverage gaps in Moscow. Also it does not work in Moscow subway.
If you try to use a Tele2 SIM card from another region in Moscow now, it will go to roaming, registering in 3G/4G network of Tele2 or in 2G with other networks, but for Moscow regional users only native Tele2 3G/4G network is available.
General information Edit
All SIM cards are valid for 4 months (120 days) since the date of last usage (making a paid call or sending a text message). There is no way to see how many days remaining. To prevent blocking and save your number, you should make any paid action at least once in 4 months - write a text message or make an outgoing call. Writing a text to yourself is the easiest way.
To check the account balance, dial *105# and press "call" button - you will see the actual balance on the screen. To recharge online, try this website. Not all credit cards accepted.
There are some small Tele2 branded retail shops. You can buy Tele2 SIM cards in their retail stores, at the distribution points in some malls and at the railway stations, or using their online store with free delivery to a local address. You can arrange a pick up point or use the free delivery service within the city (Moscow and St. Petersburg) in a max. of 2 days. Independent dealers resell their SIM cards in electronic or cell phone shops for a small surcharge. Start-up price is 100-500 RUB depending on number and start-up plan.
Tele2 recently updated all their prepaid plans. The main advantage of the new plans is a roll-over of unused data and voice allowances to the next month. You can switch between plans any time for 40 RUR per each change.
Given below are the prepaid combo plans for the Moscow region. All included allowances are valid in all over Russia (or rather all regions where Tele2's own network is available):
|Plan name||Monthly fee|
|210 RUB (as
|200 RUB||2 GB,
200 mins, 50 SMS
|400 RUB||12 GB, social media
500 mins, 50 SMS
|My Online +
Мой онлайн +
|700 RUB||30 GB, social media
800 mins, 50 SMS
|Internet for devices
Интернет для устройств
|299 RUB||7 GB||*630*12#|
After using included data allowance, speed will be throttled to 64 kbps. All packages auto-renew, if not disabled before. All unused allowances will be rolled over to the next month, if you continue your plan.
Check consumption of the packages by *155*0#. Social media includes zero-rated access to Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, TamTam, VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, except for voice and video calls using messengers.
Data feature packages Edit
If you don't want to use combo plans, you can add a special internet pack to the other plans. All data packs are valid in all Tele2 regions. They offer two daily options:
- Internet from Phone ("Интернет с телефона"):
- 100 MB per day for 7 RUB daily fee
Activation is by code *155*151# and deactivation by *155*150#. Every activation costs a 20 RUB set-up fee, while deactivation is free. To check how much of your data pack remains available, dial *155*15#
- Network day ("День в сети"):
- 300 MB per day for 20 RUB daily fee.
After using the amount included, the speed will be limited to 64 kbps. For activation: dial *155*161#, for deactivation dial *155*160#. To check how much MB of data pack remains available, dial *155*16#. First activation is free, all subsequent activations are for 50 RUB.
And there are also some monthly data-only packages:
|7 GB||data roll-over||299 RUB||*155*681#||*155*680#|
|15 GB||free social media||499 RUB||*155*671#||*155*670#|
|20 GB||unlimited nighttime use||699 RUB||*155*691#||*155*690#|
|50 GB||unlimited nighttime use||999 RUB||*155*701#||*155*700#|
After using the included volume, speed will be throttled to 64 kbps. All packages auto-renew if not disabled after 30 days. On all packages unused data rolls over to the next month, if a new package is bought. Nighttime use is valid midnight-7am and not debited from the data quota. Social media includes unlimited access to Facebook, VKontakte, Odnoklassniki and location services Yandex.
For extra data, they have released these extension packages:
- 100 MB for 1 day: 15 RUB - activation: *155*281#, deactivation: *155*280#
- 500 MB for 1 day: 50 RUB - activation: *155*171#, deactivation:*155*170#
- 3 GB for 30 days: 150 RUB - activation: *155*181#, deactivation: *155*180#
- 5 GB for 30 days: 250 RUB - activation: *155*231#, deactitvation: *155*230#
In October 2017 they have introduced their new service 'Exchange of minutes to GB'. The service enables customers to exchange minutes of voice calls under their tariffs to internet traffic. The exchange rate totals 1 min to 10.24 MB or 1 GB for 100 minutes. This option will be free for subscribers of all tariffs under the 'My Tele2' line. An unlimited amount of exchanges can be performed by this code: *155*62*<number of mins>#.
- APN: internet.tele2.ru
- Website for Moscow: https://msk.tele2.ru/ change on top right for other regions
- Support phone +7(495)979-76-11 for Moscow
Before 2014 Yota provided "mobile broadband" Internet access via its own WiMAX and LTE modems and routers. After being acquired by MegaFon it was relaunched as a new universal mobile operator providing voice calls on GSM 900 and 1800 MHz band and LTE 4G data on 2600 MHz (band 7). As of 2016 it covers major cities in 76 regions of Russia: coverage map
Yota was the first operator in Russia providing fixed prices across all regions. But still they charge different prices depending where you buy their SIM card. The operator is targeting people living in urban cities using smartphones, tablets or modems.
Yota is also the only operator in Russia, who (almost) doesn’t have domestic roaming by default. Even without any additional options or packages, if you are traveling for less than a month (it is a little bit more complex, but “for a month” is a safe lower bound) all the incoming calls and data are free and for outgoing calls your minutes are valid in any region.
Their SIM card is available for purchase online , via mobile application (iOS, Android) or at several offline sales points. The SIM card is provided for free, without any credits loaded. Three sizes are available: standard, micro, nano. In Moscow and St. Petersburg the card can be delivered to your address for free. You will need a valid local or international passport or any other personal ID to obtain the card. Activation is automatic, you should insert the card and turn on the mobile data. Balance can be topped up by credit card through their mobile app or on the website.
For smartphones Edit
They are prepaid plans with a monthly fee and an included combo pack with unlimited data for some apps you choose. It's no longer possible to get an unlimited data package, though old SIM cards still work. The exact price depends on the region where the card is obtained.
For Moscow these monthly plans are sold
- 6 GB: 280 RUB
- 12 GB: 330 RUB
- 30 GB: 380 RUB
For voice calls all over in Russia you can add 100 mins intervals for 50 RUB. For social media unlimited apps can be added: VKontakte, Instagram, Facebook, Odnoklassniki, Twitter for 25 RUB each; Viber, WhatsApp, Skype for RUR 15 each, YouTube for 60 RUB or SMS for 50 RUB.
Their app allows to see remaining minutes, account balance, top-up and chat with support (in Russian only).
What they hide in their T&Cs: If the SIM-card is used other than in a smartphone (like in a router, modem or tablet), the speed will be throttled to 64 kbit/s. If your smartphone is used as a hotspot for tethering, the speed is limited to 128 kbit/s, this limitation can be removed for 2 hours at 90 RUR or for 24 hours at 190 RUR. When you use file-sharing networks, speed is limited to 32 kbit/s;
For tablets Edit
However, they offer special SIM cards for tablets with full 4G speed. In 2018 they discontinued all unlimited plans and give out these options:
- 7 GB: 740 RUB
- 15 GB: 790 RUB
- 30 GB: 680 RUB
Unlimited apps for a surcharge: VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter: + 20 RUB each, Viber, WhatsApp, Skype: + 10 RUB each and YouTube + 60 RUB.
If you use it in an modem, speed will be throttled to 64 kbits and for torrents to 32 kbits.
For modems and routers Edit
Yota also offers special plan for using with modem or router which has fully unlimited data (*with mild fair use policy with throttling the speed when using high-load and P2P applications). This is LTE-only solution (4G), without voice capabilities, only data. There is no mobile phone number assigned to this subscription.
You should buy their hardware (modem or router) if you want to subscribe. USB modem has built-in USIM card, so the modem is locked to your subscription. You can't use it with another operator.
Routers has detachable USIM card which is different from their common voice-capable smartphone SIM card. You can purchase "modem only" USIM card without their device, but you can't use their "modem card" in a smartphone or in your tablet. You can try using it in your 4G router, but this is not guaranteed. Yota recommends using their own equipment for this subscription. It can check the device ID and block unknown devices from accessing the radio network.
- for 2 hours at max. speed: 50 RUB
- for 24 hours at max. speed: 150 RUB
- for 30 days:
- @ 512 kbps: 400 RUB
- @ 1 Mbps: 600 RUB
- @ 5 Mbps: 900 RUB
- @ 10 Mbps: 1250 RUB
- @ max. speed: 1400 RUB
Another SIM card limitation is that Yota prohibits tethering. If you switch on tethering, the speed drops to 128 kbps. The operator determines that tethering is on by measuring the TTL value, on source device it's usually 64, on destination it's 63.
The workaround to use tethering is to decrement default TTL on source device, e.g. for Android 4.4+: "sysctl -w /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_default_ttl=63".
More info Edit
- APN: internet.yota
- Support is provided in Russian and maybe English via their website, mobile application, by texting free SMS to 0999, by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or through social media: Twitter, Facebook, VK
- Website in Russian: http://www.yota.ru
Sim Sim (Сим Сим) Edit
Sim Sim is the first Russian MVNO aimed at visitors, immigrants and migrant workers to Russia established by SIM Telecom (СИМ ТЕЛЕКОМ) in 2014. Their support is supposed to be available in Tajik, Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Russian, possible in English too, but you can't take it for granted.
Up to 2016 it used to be independent, when it was mostly purchased by Vimpelcom, parent company of the Beeline network. That's why it uses the network of Beeline and gives like their parent IDD calls at the low rates. For their takeover in 2016, they refreshed their portfolio, but still focus on the Moscow region.
Their SIM card is available at their stores mainly in the capital (locator). Top-ups can be made at their sales stores and these payment terminals mentioned here. They offer different plans for local, national and IDD calls, which have all the same data allowances as bundles. Note that some plans are only available for the Moscow region.
Data rates Edit
In all of their new tariffs data is by default at 10 RUB per MB. These data packages can be added:
- Internet Start: 15 MB per day - 2.5 RUB - activation: *103*101#
- Internet Mini: 50 MB per day - 5 RUB - activation: *103*102# - fee: 30 Rub.
- Internet Standard: 2.5 GB per month - 250 RUB - activation: *103*103#
- Internet Optimum: 5 GB per month - 400 RUB - activation: *103*104#
- Internet & SMS: 1.5 GB per month and 150 regional SMS - 150 RUB - activation: *103*401#
All activations are free, but of Internet Mini. General balance check is by *102#, package balance check by *100*1#. Their older packages have still different data packages, but are not available anymore for new starters.
More info Edit
- APN: simsim
- Customer support (possibly in English): 7070
- Website in English: http://sim-sim.com/en/