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GeneralEdit

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.

BasicsEdit

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. These national roaming fees will be scapped by 15th December 2017, when regional and national rates must be aligned.

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.

Censorship Edit

Have in mind that internet access to some websites is "controlled" or 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 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.

So you might think of installing a VPN app to safeguard anonymity. A new law enforced from November 2017 bans all VPN use, proxy use and the TOR network in the country. This is implemented to make sure blacklisted sites can't be accessed, but makes secure communication impossible. All internet providers are required to block websites that offer any VPN services, while blocking all VPN traffic is technically not feasible. Be aware of this situation and draw your own conclusions.

NetworksEdit

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), 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).

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 dealer shops, 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.
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 amendment is expected to be adopted by parliament soon.
No roaming

Be aware that Russia is not part of the EU, nor the EEA, where from June 2017 new international roaming rules are 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 (МегаФон)Edit

Megafon

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 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.

AvailabilityEdit

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"),

  • 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). If you don't need it, disable by dialing *236*00*1#.

"Warm Welcome 2017" prepaid plan ("Тёплый приём 2017")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 some data and SMS allowances added:

  • Warm Welcome S: for 300 RUB monthly, it includes 150 mins to MegaFon 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 500 RUB monthly, it includes 500 mins to MegaFon nationwide and all networks in the home region, 300 SMS and 3 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.

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:

MegaFon Internet Packages (for Moscow)

Pack

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"):

  • 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 - "Switch on!" series ("Включайся!") Edit

MegaFon has changed its portfolio and discontinued the All (Всё) combo plans. Their new combos are called "Switch on!" (Включайся!):

Package Monthly fee Data Voice Extras Activation
"Пиши"

Write

350

RUB

2 GB

regional

350 mins

regional

Messengers*,

200 SMS (regional)

*789*2#
"Говори"

Talk

500

RUB

3 GB

regional

600 mins

national

Messengers* *789*4#
"Слушай"

Listen

500

RUB

6 GB

national

250 mins

regional

Messengers*,

Music***

*789*3#
"Общайся"

Communicate

600

RUB

12 GB

national

500 mins

national

Messengers*,

Social Media**

*789*5#
"Смотри"

Watch

950

RUB

16 GB

national

1200 mins

national

Messengers*,

Social Media**,

20 GB for YouTube,

Free TV pack

*789*6#
"Премиум"

Premium

3000

RUB

20 GB

national

2000 mins

national

*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.
  • All packages include unlimited calls within MegaFon network.

National data allowance is 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

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 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#.

More infoEdit

  • 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 (MTC)Edit

Mts

Brand new MTS logo

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, 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.

AvailabilityEdit

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 150 days + 30 days passive grace period 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 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:

Package Validity Fee Data/month Activation Extra volume
Mini BIT

МиниБИТ

regional 25 RUB 20 MB/day *111*62# 15RUR/20MB
national 45 RUB 25RUR/20MB
BIT БИТ regional 200 RUB* 75 MB/day *111*252# 8 RUR/50 MB
SuperBIT

СуперБИТ

national 350 RUB* 3 GB *111*628# 75 RUR

per 500 MB

up to 15

times

per month

MTS Tablet

МТС Планшет

national 400 RUB 4 GB only online
Internet Mini

Интернет-Mini

regional,

national is

for 50 RUB

per day extra

350 RUB 3 GB *111*160#
Internet Maxi

Интернет-Maxi

700 RUB 12 GB day

12 GB night

*111*161#
Internet VIP

Интернет-VIP

1200 RUB 30 GB day

unlimtd.night

*111*162#

*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.

Monthly MTS Smart plans (Moscow region)
Plan Monthly Fee Validity Calls SMS (regional) Data Activation
Smart mini 350 RUB regional 350 mins (regional) 350 1 GB *111*1023#
Smart 500 RUB regional 550 mins (national) 550 5 GB *111*1024#
Smart Unlim (*) 550 RUB regional 350 mins (national) 350 10 GB *111*3888#
Smart + 1000 RUB national 1400 mins national

(350 mins weekly)

1400

(350 weekly)

28 GB

(7 GB weekly)

*111*1025#
Smart Top 1600 RUB national 3000 mins (national) 3000 15 GB *111*1026#

All plans include unlimited calls to other MTS Russia numbers. Using Smart Mini, Smart and Smart Unlim in other regions leads to surcharges - 15 RUB daily fee for national roaming.

"Smart +" and "Smart Top" valid in all regions without roaming surcharges.

(*) Smart Unlimited is not 'unlimited' anymore.

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 Smart + and Top 150 RUB per 1 GB.

More infoEdit

Beeline (Билайн)Edit

Beeline-RUS

Beeline logo with Russian

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).

Beeline.svg

Beeline logo with English

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.

AvailabilityEdit

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. Data is 9.95 RUB per MB. 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. Data is 9.95 RUB per MB. To switch to this tariff dial 0674100200.
  • All! ("Всё!"): most widely sold combo plans with monthly fee and included bundles, for details see below.
  • Internet forever (Интернет навсегда): data plan for tablets and modems with 200 MB free data per month. After having used the free allowance, you will be directed to Highway plans, see below. To switch to this tariff, dial *110*999#. It has voice and text too, but at unfavourable rates.
  • Simple Internet (Простой интернет): data plan for tablets and modems without voice, but including SMS at the lowest default rate of 3.30 RUB per MB. Switch to this plan by *110*600#. Highway packages can be added, see below.

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 these monthly internet packs:

Monthly "Highway" internet packages for basic plans
Package Fee (month) Data Activation Deactivation
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:

Monthly Beeline combo plans "ALL!" (Moscow region)
Plan Monthl.Fee Calling time included SMS Data Activation
(charged per day) to Beeline Other calls
All 1 350 RUB

(11.7 RUB)

unlimited national 300 mins regional - 1 GB

regional

0674000111
All 2 550 RUB

(18.3 RUB)

unlimited national 400 mins regional 500

regional

6 GB national 0674000222
All 3 900 RUB

(30 RUB)

unlimited national 1200 mins regional 500

national

10 GB national 0674000333
All 4 1500 RUB

(50 RUB)

unlimited national 2000 mins national 500 national 15 GB national 0674000444
All 5 2500 RUB

(83.3 RUB)

unlimited national 5000 mins national 500 national 15 GB national 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 or 2 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.

All! plan with included data roaming Edit

Beeline introduced a special All! plan with roaming allowance. It's called Всё за 1800 + роуминг (All over 1800 + roaming) and sold for 1800 RUB per month (60 RUB per day). This plan contains 3000 mins and 3000 SMS in Russia and 15 GB data to be used in Russia and 90 other countries (list in Russian at the bottom of page). Note however, that speed while roaming is throttled to 128 kbps. To change to this plan dial 0674002017 and 100 RUB activation fee is charged.

More infoEdit

  • 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)Edit

Tele2

Tele2 logo

In 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.

AvailabilityEdit

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.

Prepaid plansEdit

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
National allowances Activation
Classic

Классический

free none, basic data

rate: 1.5 RUB/MB

*630*8#
My Tele2

Мой Теле2

210 RUB (as

7 RUB per day)

5 GB (per month)

social media

*630*1#
My Talk

Мой разговор

199 RUB 2 GB,

200 mins, 50 SMS

*630*2#
My Online

Мой онлайн

399 RUB 12 GB, social media

500 mins, 50 SMS

*630*3#
My Online +

Мой онлайн +

799 RUB 30 GB, social media

1500 mins, 50 SMS

*630*4#
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#. Social media includes zero-rated access to Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, TamTam, VKontakte and Odnoklassniki.

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:

Data Extras Value Activation Deactivation
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>#.

More infoEdit

  • APN: internet.tele2.ru
  • Website in Russian
  • Support phone +7(812)989-00-22 for St.Petersburg, +7(495)979-76-11 for Moscow

Yota (Йота)Edit

Yota

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.

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 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.

Availability Edit

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, by mobile application 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 to other Yota numbers 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:

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
    • 1250 RUB @ 10 Mbit/s
    • 1350 RUB @ 15 Mbit/s
    • 1400 RUB @ max. 4G/LTE speed.
  • 1 year ranging from:
    • 5400 RUB @ 5 Mbit/s
    • 6900 RUB @ 10 Mbit/s
    • 9000 RUB @ max. 4G/LTE speed.

Tethering Edit

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

Sim Sim (Сим Сим) Edit

Simsim

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.

Availability Edit

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

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