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, text and even data traffic made outside of this region lead to domestic roaming surcharges even within the same provider. Furthermore, when in 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 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.
For data, you can skip these rules, but be aware that there a two kinds of data packages: "regional", valid only within the specified region of your SIM card leading to surcharges outside and "national" valid all over the Russian Federation.
Have in mind that internet access to some sites is "controlled" or rather censored. The official targets are porn, drug abuse, suicide, pedophilia and copyright infringement (official black list in Russian only, unofficial Wikipedia about the situation in English), but recently sites like LinkedIn have been blocked too. So you might think of installing a VPN program or app before.
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.
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 is used by some government and emergency services and payphones. It is 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 operators active in Russia:
- MegaFon (МегаФон)
- MTS (MTC)
- Beeline (Билайн), owned by Veon/Vimpelcom group
- 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).
In 2014, Crimea 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 four different ways of buying a SIM card in Russia: the official, the semi-official and two unofficial.
- In the official dealer shops, you will need to present your passport (containing the visa and the entry stamp) and the "invitation" or a certificate of your registered place to stay to get a SIM card. A foreign passport will usually work, but 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.
MegaFon (owned by TeliaSonera group) 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 who started 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 in 72 regions in 2016. 800 MHz and 1800 MHz exist too, but have very limited coverage and are unlikely to be seen.
It considers 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 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 call to yourself every 90 days in order to keep your SIM active indefinitely.
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).
Also you can order the SIM card to local address in Russia.
They offer different prepaid plans without monthly fee:
Switch to ZERO ("Переходи на НОЛЬ"),
Everything is easy ("Всё просто"),
Around the world ("Вокруг света"),
Warm Welcome ("Тёплый приём").
MegaFon Online data-only plan ("МегаФон-Онлайн")
and their combo plans with included allowances called All inclusive ("Всё включено")
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).
"Warm Welcome" prepaid plan ("Тёплый приём")Edit
Good solution for international calls. New SIM card price is 200 RUB. Calls to other MegaFon subscribers of same plan and same region are free (limited to 100 min/day). Calls to other phones in Moscow 2.5 RUB/min and outside within Russia 8.5 RUB/min. Calls to the CIS countries 5-10 RUB/min and SMS for 2.5-5 RUB per message, just to give you an impression. Activation: *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 some data and SMS allowances added:
- Warm Welcome S: for 10 RUB per day, it includes 300 mins to MegaFon subscribers nationwide and all networks in the home region, 150 SMS and 2 GB data in home region - activation: *105*1082#. For more data, use extension packs ("Продли скорость").
- Warm Welcome M: for 16.67 RUB per day, it includes 550 mins to MegaFon subscribers nationwide and all networks in the home region, 350 SMS and 5 GB data in home region. activation: *105*1082#. For more data, use extension packs ("Продли скорость").
"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.
"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:
|Fee||Data (month)||Night Data||Validity||Activation|
|XS||190 RUB||70 MB / day||n./a.||regional||*236*1*1#|
|S||350 RUB||3 GB||national||*236*2*1#|
|M||590 RUB||8 GB||8 GB||*236*3*1#|
|L||890 RUB||18 GB||18 GB||*236*4*1#|
|XL||1290 RUB||30 GB||unlimited||*236*5*1#|
All packages have full 4G/LTE speed, where available. Dial *558# to check remaining data volume. Night data is valid 1am-7am. All packages auto-renew, if not stopped by *236*00#.
For more data, you can add an extension pack ("Продли скорость"):
- 1 GB: 150 RUR - activation: *370*1*1#
- 5 GB: 400 RUR - 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#.
All inclusive combo plans ("Всё включено") Edit
These monthly plans include minutes, texts and data all over Russia for a monthly plan fee:
|S||300 RUB||2 GB||300 mins||200||*105*0033#|
|M||500 RUB||5 GB||550 mins||400||*105*0034#|
|L||800 RUB||7 GB||1000 mins||1000||*105*0035#|
|XL||1200 RUB||10 GB||2000 mins||2000||*105*0036#|
|VIP||2700 RUB||20 GB||5000 mins||5000||*105*0040#|
All allowances are valid nationwide. When data is used up, you can activate "auto-renewal" with 200 MB extra at 30 RUB by *105*1133# or can book one of their "prolong speed" add-ons from above instead.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
How to disable foisted trial, promotion and other useless optionsEdit
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 press "call" button and reply with "1" to disable it.
- "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#.
- Disable all Internet Packs (if you have any of them) including promotional "Internet XS" (free for 7 days): *236*00*1#.
- 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#.
- 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") 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, Vodafone 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- or micro 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 6 (5+1 grace) months (150+30 days) of inactivity. To extend this term, just use it - make a call or write a text message (easiest way). There is no way to see, how many days 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 ads when making calls - removal: *567*0#
- MTS Ads: SMS newsletter with ads - removal: *111*374#
Prepaid plans (Линейка тарифов без абонентской платы) 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 20 mins of free outgoing calls to other MTS numbers of same region per day and most of Moscow landline numbers. Starter price: 100 RUR
- 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.
- Red Energy: 1.6 RUB per min for all calls inside the region. Starter price: 150 RUB
- Per second (Посекундный): 0.05 RUR per second to all calls inside the region.
Connect-4 data plan ("МТС Коннект-4") Edit
This plan is designed for mobile data. It allows calling and texting, but rates are bad. Main advantage of this plan is lower default data rate of 1.5 RUB per MB which is valid nationwide. Starter price is 750 RUB which is fully credited.
Its default rate is called Internet 4 Mbps: unlimited for 750 RUR/month only in region. National use is charged at 50 RUR/day extra. Only Mini, Maxi and VIP packs (see below) can be added or two other plans:
- Internet per day (Интернет на день): 500 MB per day valid nationwide for 50 RUR. Activation and deactivation: *111*67#
- 100 GB per day (100 ГБ на день) at 5000 RUB valid nationwide. Activation: *111*1824*1# and deactivation *111*1824*2#.
Data feature packs for prepaid plans Edit
These packs can be activated on any normal voice plan ("Super MTS" or "Red Energy"), but not on the Smart series (change plan instead).
These monthly options can be added to the prepaid plans:
|regional||25 RUB||20 MB/day||*111*62#||15RUR/20MB|
|BIT БИТ||regional||200 RUB*||75 MB/day||*111*252#||8 RUR/50 MB|
|national||350 RUB*||3 GB||*111*628#||75 RUR
per 500 MB
up to 15
|national||400 RUB||4 GB||only online|
for 50 RUR
per day extra
|350 RUB||3 GB||*111*160#|
|700 RUB||12 GB day
12 GB night
|1200 RUB||30 GB day
*It will be charged 8 RUB daily for BIT (БИТ) and 14 RUB daily for SuperBIT (СуперБИТ), if you don't have enough balance for monthly charge.
Remaining data volume can be checked by dialing *217#. Daily data on BIT pack is counted from 3am to 3am local time. Nighttime is 1am-7am. All packages auto-renew after 30 days. To deactivate type activation code and replace # by *2#.
Smart combo plan (линейка тарифов Smart) Edit
Smart series offers combo plans with a monthly fee with inlcluded 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 this plans.
|Smart mini||300 RUB||regional||200 mins||250||2 GB||*111*1023#|
|Smart||450 RUB||national||500 mins||500||3 GB||*111*1024#|
|Smart Nonstop||650 RUB||national||500 mins||400||10 GB +
|Smart Unlim||570 RUB||national||200 mins||200||unltd. (*)||*111*3888#|
|Smart +||900 RUB||national||1100mins||1100||5 GB||*111*1025#|
|Smart Top||1500RUB||national||2000mins||2000||10 GB||*111*1026#|
All plans include unlimited MTS calls in the validity area.
(*) Smart Unlimited is not 'really' unlimited. A complex Fair Use Policy is active on all Smart series plans: Torrents, P2P and any high-load applications throttled to 512 kbps, On Smart Unlim plan, after first 10 GB used, actual speed can be throttled down, Use in modems, routers or any other devices except smartphones and tablets is prohibited (blocks by IMEI). However, tethering is fully allowed.
To check the remaining data, SMS and minutes, dial *100*1#. To check balance, dial *100#. For overuse on the limited Smart plans 75 RUB per 500 MB are charged up to 15 times, on Smart + and Top 150 RUB per 1 GB.
- 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 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 3 months - write a text message or make an outgoing call. Writing a text to yourself is the easiest way.
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 accepted (Visa or MasterCard).
To check your balance, dial *102#. The balance is displayed on your phone screen. On some plans the more common combination *100# also works. This is a free request.
Just get any prepaid SIM card (you can buy it at any cellphone shops, which are plenty in big cities like Euroset, Sviaznoy and many other) for a start up price of about 100-200 RUR without any preloaded credit. Sometimes they sell "promotional" cards with 50..150 RUR preloaded. Some shops may charge you additional 10-20% commission, but they will help you to register your SIM card. You can get one of their many prepaid plans:
- Zero doubts ("Ноль сомнений")
- Per second ("Посекундный")
- Welcome ("Добро пожаловать")
- All! ("Всё!"), combo plan with monthly fee and allowances
Default data rate is 10-12 RUB per MB nationwide on all basic prepaid plans. You might need to enable data by *110*181#.
"Zero doubts" prepaid plan ("Ноль сомнений"): Edit
This is the most common and widely used Beeline prepaid plan for using voice and data. Nothing included except an initial account balance (in most often cases of 100 RUR). This plan is good for calling to other Beeline numbers.
Per second ("Посекундный") Edit
This plan is good for calling locally and all over Russia as it offers per second billing.
"Welcome" prepaid plan ("Добро пожаловать"): Edit
This is a very popular plan for visitors of Moscow. This plan offers exceptionally good prices for international calling to other, mostly CIS countries where Beeline partner networks are available (Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan). Also it provides nice prices for calling to China and Vietnam.
Data feature packs Edit
To use mobile data, you should choose a data feature pack. Beeline internet packages are called Highway ("Хайвей") and can be attached to any regular prepaid plan. You can select daily or monthly internet packs. Usually monthly packs are more profitable.
|Daily Internet 100
(Интернет на день 100)
|19 RUB||100 MB||*115*111#||*115*010#|
|Daily Internet 500
(Интернет на день 500)
|29 RUB||500 MB||*115*112#||*115*020#|
Internet packages are valid nationwide and in some far-eastern regions.
After using the data volume included, speed will be throttled to 64 Kbps until the end of the day. Daily packs are self-recurring, there is no need to activate it again next day. So, when do you no longer need it, you should de-activate the option manually by dialing the correct sequence.
|Highway 1 GB||200 RUB||1 GB||*115*04#||*115*040#|
|Highway 4 GB||400 RUB||4 GB||*115*061#||*115*060#|
|Highway 8 GB||600 RUB||8 GB||*115*071#||*115*070#|
|Highway 12 GB||700 RUB||12 GB||*115*081#||*115*080#|
|Highway 20 GB||1200 RUB||20 GB||*115*091#||*115*090#|
Speed is up to 4G/LTE where available. Packages renew themselves automatically after one month, if not deactivated. All internet packages are valid nationwide (except on the Crimea and in some far eastern regions).
When included data volume is used up, you can add some extra packages:
- 1 GB: 250 RUB, activation: *115*121#
- 4 GB: 500 RUB, activation: *115*122#
This add-on is only valid for the rest of the billing cycle of the Highway package.
"All !" Combo plans (тарифы серии "Всё!") Edit
Like MTS, Beeline has monthly combo plans with included allowances of voice calls, SMS and data:
|All for 300||300
|unlimited national||300 mins regional||100
|All for 500||500
|unlimited national||550 mins regional||300
|5 GB national||only 1|
|All for 800||800 RUB||unlimited national||1000 mins regional||500
|7 GB national||up to 5|
|All for 1200||1200 RUB||2000 mins national||1000 national||10 GB national||up to 5|
|All for 1800||1800 RUB||3000 mins national||3000 national||15 GB national||up to 5|
When data volume is used up, the "auto-renewal rate" will be charged: 70 MB for 20 RUB. In this case it may be better to add a Highway pack or one of their add-ons (see above) for extra data. Beeline's All plans auto-renew after 30 days.
You can activate a plan online on your account, by calling customer support (in English too) or going to a shop. At a 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
First of all, do not mix it up with tethering. It is another option, specially for Beeline users of "ALL!" combo plans ("All for 800", "ALL for 1200" and "ALL for 1800"). It gives you the ability to share your internet allowance with up to 5 other Beeline SIM cards. For example, you have "All for 1200" plan with 10 GB allowance. You can add up to 5 users to the same account and they will be able to use your 10 GB (one allowance for all users, it doesn't multiple). To add the user to your "group", it should be the Beeline customer of same region. But this is not recommended for travelers, as it can take some time.
- 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. The name Rostelecom has been dropped and the new company will use the Tele2 brand. Also Rostelecom merged its own regional networks (very small regional operators like NCC-Volga (Nizhniy Novgorod and Volga Region Celluar Network)) in some regions to one network under Tele2 brand. 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. Do not mix up with Swedish Tele2, they are not partners anymore. All "partnership discount roaming agreements" with European Tele2 networks are no more valid.
Tele2's 4G/LTE is on the rare 2300 MHz frequency (Band 40, TD-LTE), which is not as common as 2600 MHz (Band 7) and 800 MHz (Band 20). In July, 2016 Tele2 also launched LTE on 450 MHz (Band 31) as special purpose supplementary frequency, primary in rural areas around Moscow and St.Petersburg.
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 new 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|
|free||none, basic data
rate: 1.5 RUB/MB
|210 RUB (as
7 RUB per day)
|5 GB (per month)||*630*1#|
|199 RUB||2 GB,
200 mins, 50 SMS
|399 RUB||12 GB,
500 mins, 50 SMS
|My Online +
Мой онлайн +
|799 RUB||30 GB,
1500 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. Check consumption of the packages by *155*0#
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"):
- 75 MB per day for 5 RUB daily fee
Activation is by code *155*151# and deactivation by *155*150#. Every activation costs a 10 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"):
- 250 MB per day for 15 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#.
And there are also some monthly data-only packages:
|7 GB||299 RUB||*155*191#||*155*190#|
|15 GB||599 RUB||*155*201#||*155*200#|
|30 GB||899 RUB||*155*211#||*155*210#|
After using the included volume, speed will be throttled to 64 kbps. All packages auto-renew if not disabled after 30 days. To check how much MB of data pack remains, dial *155*021#.
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#
- APN: internet.tele2.ru
- Website in Russian
- Support phone +7(812)989-00-22 for St.Petersburg, +7(495)979-76-11 for Moscow
Before 2014 Yota provided internet access via modem based devices. After being acquired by MegaFon it was relaunched as a voice 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 towns in 76 regions.
It's 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 travelling 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 app (iOS, Android) or at offline sales points. The SIM card is provided for free, without any credit 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 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, by 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. The exact price depends on the region where the card is obtained. E.g. in Moscow it's 440 RUR for 30 days. In other regions it costs less. Their application allows to see remaining minutes, account balance, top-up and chat with support (in Russian). The monthly fee includes unlimited data at full speed, free incoming calls, unlimited voice calls Yota to Yota and 100 (300 in Moscow) minutes per month for calls to any other Russian phone.
What they hide in their T&Cs: If the SIM-card used other than in a smartphone (in a router, modem or tablet), the speed will be throttled to 64 kbits. 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. The price is according to duration valid for Moscow. In other regions, it can be much lower. Data is always valid nationwide.
- 24 hours: 50 RUB
- 30 days: 590 RUB
- 365 days: 4500 RUB
If you use it in an modem, speed will be throttled to 64 kbits and for torrents to 32 kbits.
Modem/router offer 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.
Available devices and prices:
- USB dongle modem - 1900 RUR. USB only, internal (non-detachable) USIM card
- USB dongle modem with WiFi feature - 2900 RUR. Detachable USIM card. Uses USB for power. No battery.
- MiFi (portable router) - 2900 RUR. WiFi, USB, internal battery. Detachable USIM card.
- Desktop router - 6900 RUR. 4xEthernet, WiFi, detachable USIM card.
They have three time periods for nationwide data:
- 2 hours at max. speed: 50 RUB
- 24 hours at max. speed: 150 RUB
- 30 days ranging from:
- free @ 64 kbit/s
- 400 RUB @ 512 kbit/s
- 600 RUB @ 1 Mbit/s
- 750 RUB @ 2.1 Mbit/s
- 1000 RUB @ 6.4 Mbit/s
- 1400 RUB @ max. 4G/LTE speed.
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/