There is a complicated situation with mobile telephony in Ukraine. The country has these GSM-based providers:
- Kyivstar (Київстар, Russian-owned)
- Vodafone, MTS (MTC, Russian-owned)
- lifecell (Turkish-owned - formerly called life:)
- 3mob (by Ukrtelecom, U'tel - 3G/UMTS only)
The first three (Kyivstar, Vodafone/MTS, lifecell) are the principal GSM providers. 3mob runs a limited 3G-only network so far. Other providers like Intertelecom and PEOPLEnet run CDMA based networks, that are not compatible to GSM. That's why they are not mentioned any further in this article.
Up to 2014 all three major providers only offered 2G up to EDGE (@236 kbps) speed. Back in 2007 the first 3G/UMTS licence was given to state-owned Ukrtelecom and its subdivision U'tel that has marketed its 3G offer under brand name 3mob in some towns.
Things changed in 2015: the president ordered to free frequencies previously blocked by the military to be used for 3G and 4G. The three networks finally received licenses to operate 3G on 2100 MHz and all major providers started their 3G/UMTS networks in addition to 3mob. In 2016 MTS is trying to buy 3mob pending administrative approval.
The 3G coverage of all 4 operators can be checked on this updated map. Fast internet is still rare outside of towns. In 2016 Kyivstar has the best 3G coverage at 40% of population, followed by lifecell and Vodafone/MTS roaming on 3mob.
Lycamobile from the UK announced to launch as first MVNO in the country using the 3mob network from summer 2017.
In February and March 2018 4G/LTE licenses were auctioned to the major three providers on 1800 and 2600 MHz (Bands 3 and 7) and Lifecell and Vodafone started with 4G/LTE on 2600 MHz first in March 2018, followed by Kyivstar in April.
Up to now SIM cards in Ukraine are not registered. The government has plans to change the rules. Ukrainian regulator NKRZI announced that a new regulation on the registration of mobile subscribers will enter into force from autumn 2018. Customers will be able to use some forms of electronic registration or register in operator outlets. Exact details are not yet clear and will be updated when they become available.
Due to the ongoing conflict with Russia, the Ukrainian government ordered to block Russian internet services VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, Yandex and Mail.ru as sanction against Russian companies in May 2017. All operators are complying with this ban. A further ban of all Russian-based websites is considered, but not yet implemented because of its high costs. You may install VPN or proxies on your device, if you like to bypass this blocking.
Crimea region Edit
Since 2014 the Crimean Peninsula is under Russian administration. Because of the special situation there with different providers regulated by Russia, this territory is now covered in a separate article.
Eastern regions Edit
Due to the ongoing conflict in the Eastern part of the country (namely in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions), the operators haven't been able to deploy any 3G yet. The equipment of Kyivstar, lifecell and 3mob was confiscated. They ceased to operate in these regions, while Vodafone still operates in some areas there. CDMA-based operators Intertelekom and Peoplenet stopped to operate there as well. Two new operators Phoenix in the Donetsk region and Lugacom in the Luhansk region were created and are shown at the bottom of the article. They form a single network, but are sold and marketed separately and have slightly different pricing. This leaves these territories as one of the few places in Europe without any 3G access so far, that's why we greylist them here.
EU roaming Edit
All three major operators in Ukraine offer quite cheap roaming packages for Europe and other parts of the world. They are listed at each operator in the article and also here. While roaming with a foreign SIM in Ukraine can be very expensive, it might be cheap roaming with an Ukrainian SIM abroad.
Kyivstar (Київстар) Edit
Russian-owned Kyivstar is Ukraine’s largest mobile operator by subscribers and owned by Russian Vimpelcom (for coverage scroll down here). In 2016 it covers now more than 40% of population by 3G in 614 cities, towns and villages so far and 99% by 2G.
Kyivstar started its 4G/LTE network on 2600 MHz, on April 6, 2018 in in 20 towns, including the cities of Kiev, Dnipropetrovsk, Odessa, Lviv, Kharkiv, Ternopil, Vinnitsya, Uzhgorod and Khmelnitskiy, as well as in coastal resorts and at border points.
Their SIM card is available at airports and lots of shops and their service centers (locator). It costs 25 UAH or less depending on shop.
Top-up vouchers are available in many more places starting from 50 UAH. To top-up type *123*<Voucher PIN>#. Internatl. Visa and MasterCards can be used to top-up on their website. Check balance by *111#.
Data feature packagesEdit
The default rate is 50 MB at 5 UAH which is activated up to 5 times a day. These new monthly base packages are offered:
- Unlim Talk (Безлім Розмови): 45 UAH - 500 MB data, unlimited on-network calls
- Unlim Social Nets (Безлім Соцмережі): 65 UAH - 3 GB data, unlimited on-network calls, 50 mins to other networks, free Twitter and Facebook
- Unlim Video (Безлім Відео): 95 UAH - 6 GB data, unlimited on-network calls, 100 mins to other networks, 100 SMS, free Twitter and Facebook, free unlimited video streaming
- Maximum Unlim (Максимальний Безлім): 155 UAH - unlimited data and on-network calls, 300 mins to other networks, 300 SMS
All packs come with unlimited use of Veon app. This messenger is available in Apple's app store and Google's Play store and includes VoIP calls too. Check plan balances by *112#. When data is used up in limited packages speed will be throttled to 128 Kbit/s. By *112# you can add the default rate (see above) for more high speed data.
Tablet+ plan Edit
This Tablet+ (Планшет+) plan is their cheapest rate for data right now: 50 UAH including 2 GB data for a month. It has voice and text too. You can add more data with an 1 GB add-on: 30 UAH - activation *230#. The add-on packs (see above) can be added too. Free social media like on Online packages is included too.
If you've chosen Tablet+, but don't use the mobile internet every day, you can activate “payment in a day of use” option. To use the option, you don't need to top-up your account first monthly subscription fee. Under the terms of the options, you can get 5 packages of 500 MB per day at 10 UAH each. When this amount of megabytes is over, the internet will work for free, but at reduced speed of 32 Kbps.
While connecting “Payment in a day of use” option, subscription fee under the terms of the tariff plan isn’t charged, and the package's 2 GB aren't debited. If you have unused data from this volume, it will be cancelled as soon as you connect the option. Additional package of 1 GB is also deactivated. This option can be activated an unlimited number of times by *477*1#. To check data consumption, enter *252#, to deactivate option, dial *229*0#. After deactivation you'll get 2 GB under your regular plan conditions and your account will be charged a monthly fee. Check status of plan by *229*2#.
They give out roaming data on a daily basis in all European countries and some more countries beyond. Per day 35-60 UAH (€ 1.25-2.14) are charged in 100 MB increments up to max. of 2 GB based on Kyiv time (UTC+3). This is one of the cheapest option for Europe and the rest of the world, but they have suspended all options to pause your plan without a monthly rate.
- APN for prepaid: www.ab.kyivstar.net
- Check APN before use! Some phone models may set APN to 'xl.kyivstar.net' as default. This old APN charges data in different rates way more expensive (UAH 7 per day plus UAH 0.03/MB).
- Website in English: http://www.kyivstar.ua/en/
Vodafone (formerly MTS Ukraine) Edit
Russian-owned MTS Ukraine took over the brand of Vodafone and started with an own 3G coverage in 2015. In 2016 already more than 40% of the population are covered by their own 3G (3G coverage map). 4G/LTE is available in Lviv, Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa and Dnipro.
Vodafone and 3mob (see below) signed a national roaming agreement to take in effect in 2015. This enables Vodafone users to get access to 3mob's 3G network in another 50 cities.
In 2015 MTS signed a strategic partnership with Vodafone to use their label for some products. This is mainly to conceal the Russian origin of the ownership, which is unpopular in Western parts of the Ukraine. MTS was re-branded into Vodafone in major parts of Ukraine at the end of 2015. In 2017 the official company name was changed to Vodafone Ukraine.
In 2018 all special tariffs still marketed under the MTS Ukraine brand in the Eastern Regions "not controlled by the Ukrainian army" were shifted to the Vodafone brand as well. They announced that services have been disrupted in the area controlled by pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions after a fibre-optic backbone line of the operator was damaged there. More than a 1/3 of the equipment of Vodafone Ukraine is out of order in the area. Vodafone says that it won't be able to repair the network if the damage took place in the area controlled by separatists.
At the end of March 2018 4G/LTE was started on 2600 MHz in 20 cities: Kyiv, three cities in Kyiv region (Boryspil, Vyshneve, Chabany), Dnipro, Pavlohrad (Dnipropetrovsk region), Kharkiv, Kupiansk (Kharkiv region), Zaporizhia, Energodar (Zaporizhia region), Lviv, Poltava, Sumy, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, Novoselytsia (Chernivtsi region), Lutsk, Kropyvnytsky, Odesa, and Kherson. By July 1800 MHz will be added and the 4G network will be launched in 28 cities, including Brovary, Irpin (Kyiv region), Lymanka (Odesa region), Berdiansk (Zaporizhia region), Uzhgorod, Mukachevo (Zakarpattia region), Palianytsia, and Yaremche (Ivano-Frankivsk region).
Vodafone SIM cards are available at airports and lots of shops (locator) and their service centers. Refills are available in many more places. Vodafone SIM cards are mainly sold in the Western, MTS in the Eastern part of the country.
In Odessa, Vodafone agents sell SIM card packs outside the main train station. They will also do top-ups and activate SIM cards on the spot and help you set them up as activation can require calling a Russian speaking phone number or following the instructions on Russian language text messages. As long as they are wearing their uniforms they are legitimate and will help you.
Vodafone Plans Edit
For their Vodafone branding, they sell these starter packs. The only prepaid tariff is their monthly Red plan:
- Light+: 40 UAH for 500 MB 3G, then unlimited 2G internet, unlimited calls to Vodafone, 30 mins calls, usual excess rates apply, change to this plan: *250*20#
- XS: 50 UAH for 1 GB, unlimited on-net calls, 60 mins dom. calls, 30 SMS, change to this plan: *250*350#
- S: 65 UAH for 5 GB, unlimited on-net calls and apps, 75 mins dom. calls, 50 SMS, change to this plan: *250*50#
- M: 105 UAH for 8 GB, unlimited on-net calls and apps, 150 mins dom. calls, 70 SMS, change to this plan: *250*70#
- L: 170 UAH for 12 GB, unlimited on-net calls and apps, 300 mins calls, 150 SMS, change to this plan: *250*150#
All plans are for 30 days. Unlimited apps include WhatsApp (only messaging), Viber (only messaging), Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. There are no ways to upsize, but excess fees at 5 UAH for 100 MB remain low.
Starter packs are on the XS, S or Lite+ plan, but can be changed to other plans for the price difference. If you don't have enough credit on your account for the monthly pack, a daily rate is charged: on XS plan 3 UAH per day for 100 MB, on S plan 5 UAH per day for 200 MB, on M plan 9 UAH per day for 500 MB and on L plan 15 UAH for 600 MB. To check consumption in your plan, type *101*4#.
Vodafone in Ukraine gives out reduced roaming rates in so-called "Vodafone countries" called "roaming like home": Poland, Italy, Germany, Czech Rep., France, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, UK, Greece, Netherlands, Malta, Ireland, Albania, Romania, Turkey. Be sure to stick to Vodafone networks in these countries only and Free mobile in France (except in Poland).
By typing *600# you can activate these roaming packages valid for 7 days in the countries mentioned above. For roaming these monthly rates come on top of the domestic base rates mentioned above:
- S: 120 UAH - 120 MB data, 100 SMS, 100 mins
- M: 180 UAH - 180 MB data, 140 SMS, 140 mins
- L: 360 UAH - 360 MB data, 300 SMS, 300 mins
Unlimited incoming calls are included, outgoing roaming calls are charged at 10 UAH per min. Overuse data fees are at 35 UAH per 100 MB.
A new very rigid FUP is enforced (see here). You need to stay on their home network from time to time to use roaming and top-ups can be only done by vouchers sold in Ukraine or through a few top-up agencies from abroad. A Vodafone SIM card needs to be topped up at least every 12 months to avoid suspension.
- for the 3G network of 3Mob, you need to switch manually to 3Mob/Ukrtelecom
- APN: internet (or on roaming: 3Mob's APN)
- Website in Ukrainian, Russian and English: https://www.vodafone.ua/en
lifecell (formerly called life:)) Edit
Turkish-owned lifecell by Astelit Inc. is the 3rd provider in the country. In 2015 it was fully acquired by Turkcell and was rebranded from life:) in 2016. It has a lower 2G coverage compared to the two big ones, but at the lowest rates. Its 3G has started in 2015 and covers 617 cities, towns and centers in 2016 so far (for 3G coverage map: scroll down).
4G/LTE started at the end of March 2018 in 22 regional centers across the nation, as well as Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk. At the same time, 3G and 4G/LTE traffic will be charged the same way,
Their SIM card is available at airports and lots of shops and their service centers (locator in Ukrainian only) for 15 UAH. For activation call 111 for free. Refills are available in many more places. In contrast to Kyivstar Lifecell also accepts foreign credit cards for online top-ups. To check balance, type *111# or *121#.
Starter packs are sold for 20 UAH. With Lifecell you need to be on one of their monthly base plans:
- Lifehack: with 20 GB and data roll-over from the previous month, unlimited on-net mins, 150 domestic mins and 150 domestic SMS for 89 UAH, activation: *705#
- Absolute Freedom: a combo plan with 750 dom. mins and a data allowance
- S: 7 GB - 85 UAH, activation: *141*701#
- M: 15 GB and unlimited at night (midnight-8am) - 145 UAH, activation: *141*702#
- L: 20 GB and unlimited at night (midnight-8am) - 200 UAH, activation: *141*703#
- Hype: a combo plan with 10 GB, unlimited on-net and 75 domestic mins - 75 UAH, activation: *345#
- Optimal Smartphone: comes in two sizes
- S: 3 GB, unlimited on-net, 80 dom. mins, 80 dom. SMS - 50 UAH, activation: *141*725#
- M: 7 GB, unlimited on-net, 120 dom. mins, 120 dom. SMS - 80 UAH, activation: *141*726#
- Smartphone 3G+: comes in three sizes
- S: 2 GB, unlimited on-net, 100 dom. mins, 100 dom. SMS - 60 UAH, activation: *404#
- M: 5 GB, unlimited on-net, 200 dom. mins, 200 dom. SMS - 100 UAH, activation: *405#
- L: 8 GB, unlimited on-net, 300 dom. mins, 350 dom. SMS - 150 UAH, activation: *406#
- Smart Family: with a multi card scheme
- 3G+ Gadget: for data devices:
- Smart: 50 MB/day - 25 UAH, activation: *141*20#
- Tablet: 6 GB - 45 UAH, activation: *141*21#
- Router: 12 GB - 85 UAH, activation: *141*22#
- Router+: 20 GB - 145 UAH, activation: *141*23#
- Platinum: activation: *360#
- Premium: 250 UAH, 15 GB, unlimited lifecell calls, 500 mins to other providers, 500 SMS
- Premium Exclusive: 350 UAH, 20 GB, unlimited lifecell calls, 1000 other mins, 1000 SMS
- Premium: 400 UAH, 15 GB, unlimited on-net calls, 1500 dom mins, 1500 SMS - *234#
- Premium Exclusive: 800 UAH, 40 GB, unlimited on-net mins, 3000 dom. mins, 3000 SMS - *238#
- Zachotnyy: with unlimited messaging and internet at night, activation: *207#
- S: 2 GB: 50 UAH
- M: 4 GB: 80 UAH
Most plans can be restarted ahead of time by *700# for the same price minus 10 UAH.
Data feature packages Edit
On top of their base plans Lifecell sells these usual data packages:
|500 MB||14 days||15 UAH||*123*7#|
|30 days||25 UAH||*305#|
|1 GB||29 UAH||*311#|
|2 GB||49 UAH||*312#|
|4 GB||79 UAH||*314#|
|8 GB||129 UAH||*318#|
|2G unlimited||20 UAH||*211#|
To check remaining balance dial *111# or *121#. All packages auto-renew. To stop dial *112#.
Lifecell released two roaming offers even beating Kyivstar's low rates in many countries. In all EU countries plus Albania, Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Canada, Chile, Chine, Georgia, Egypt, Israel, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait , Mazedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Saudi-Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka. Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Uzbekistan, USA, Vietnam and others:
- 100 MB for the rest of the day: UAH 30. Packages are in 100 MB increments and valid for the rest of the day in Ukrainian time. You don't need to activate them as it seems. Check remaining data in your package by *108#.
- 500 MB package valid for 7 days called "Roaming Online" at UAH 150. To activate or check balance dial *108*7#. This package can be bought as recurring or once-off and can also be renewed ahead of time.
- in English from any landline: 0800 205 433
- in English from life:): 5422
- Website https://www.lifecell.ua/en/ (English, Ukrainian and Russian)
- APN: internet
3Mob (aka U'tel, Ukrtelecom)Edit3Mob (spelled as "TriMob") used to be the only provider of 3G/UMTS internet in a limited area of the country until 2014. In 2015 3Mob and Vodafone signed a national roaming agreement giving 3Mob users free access to Vodafone's 2G network in domestic roaming without surcharges.
3G speed of 3Mob is up to 7.2 Mbps in their rather limited coverage area: dark green: 3mob - 3G, bright green MTS - 2G.
A starter pack of their Green plan costs 35 UAH in their stores and partner agencies: Store locator in Ukranian.
You can top-up your SIM card on the main page of their website using a credit card.
They offer various monthly packages with free roaming on 2G MTS outside its own 3G coverage:
Their default plan is called Green Plan: You need to buy a new starter or you can switch all other plans by sending a SMS to 2209. For the Green plan, the sell these data-only packages:
- 1 GB for 30 days: 20 UAH, activation: A
- 5 GB for 30 days: 50 UAH, activation: B
- 10 GB for 180 days: 120 UAH, activation: C
Overuse is charged with 0.20 UAH per MB. For activation text code letter to 2209. Packages can be booked multiple times. Check data balance by *121#. These other plans and options are offered:
- Annual Plan: for 250 UAH per year giving you 2.5 GB per month for a year. Change to this plan by texting '7' to 2203.
- Internet Unlim: real unlimited 3G data for 382 UAH per 30 days period, plus 1000 mins and SMS and unlimited on-net calls
- Day Unlim: 15 UAH for unlimited internet within 24 hours. To activate text the number of days to 2204.
- Night Unlim: 10 UAH for unlimited internet midnight-6am. To activate text a blank SMS to 2206 past midnight on the night for activation.
- APN: 3g.utel.ua
- Website, partly in English: http://3mob.ua/?lang=en
Lycamobile Ukraine Edit
In July 2017 Lycamobile from the UK started as first MVNO in the country. It operates on the 3G-only network of 3mob with very limited coverage in major cities so far and 2G roaming on Vodafone UA elsewhere (see 3 Mob map above).
Their SIM card in all three sizes is available for free either online sent to an Ukrainian postal address or at their sales points. You need to top-up starting from 100 UAH. This can also be done online by credit card after having registered your SIM. Check balance by *111#.
Normally they will keep your number for 120 days, if you do not use their service. However, you may also keep your Lycamobile number for up to 1 year without using by dialling *139*9999# from your Lycamobile and follow the instructions on the screen. This extension is at a fixed annual fee of 100 UAH, which will be deducted from your balance.
Data options Edit
Default data rate without a package is 0.20 UAH per MB.
They offer these packages valid for 30 days:
- 1 GB data: 20 UAH, activation: *139*1001#
- 2 GB data, 60 mins, 30 SMS: 40 UAH, activation: *139*1051#
- 3 GB data: 50 UAH, activation: *139*1001#
- 6 GB data, 150 mins, 50 SMS: 80 UAH, activation: *139*1052#
- 12 GB data, 250 mins, 100 SMS: 125 UAH, activation: *139*1055#
Allowances can only be used in Ukraine. Combo mins and SMS are to all domestic networks, Lycamobile on-net is unlimted. Auto-renewal is not quite clear.
More information Edit
- APN: data.lycamobile.ua Username: lmua Password: plus
- Website in English: http://www.lycamobile.ua/en/
Phoenix (in the Donetsk region only)Edit
Phoenix (in Russian: феникс) is a new operator created in 2015 based on confiscated Kyivstar equipment in part of the Donetsk region that is not controlled by the central government. It used to be in 2G-only on 900 and 1800 MHz, but have started with 3G in the towns of Donetsk, Makeevka and Gorlovka. They form a single network with Lugakom, so you can use this SIM in Luhansk as well for the same rates and it will not be considered roaming.
The SIM card is sold in post offices. Full list of points of sale: list (in Russian-only). You need a passport to purchase a SIM and only 5 SIMs per person are allowed. The price is 120 RUB without any credit.
Refills are available there as well and are also available from supermarkets and other shops (list). Due to the status of the region there is no way to refill using an international credit card. Check balance by *101#.
These plans are available:
- Free (СВОБОДНЫЙ): without a base fee and any data. You can add daily or monthly packs, see below.
- People's tariff (НАРОДНЫЙ) for 50 RUB per month and includes unlimited in-network calls and 300 in-network SMS, but no data.
- People's internet tariff ("НАРОДНЫЙ ИНТЕРНЕТ") for 95 RUB per month and includes 100 minutes per day in-network calls and 100 in-network SMS, and unlimited data.
To have (more) data you need to get one of these packs:
- for 2G internet (max 150 Mbit/s):
- 24 hours unlimited for 3 RUB. To activate dial *109*1#.
- 30 days unlimited for 50 RUB. To activate dial *109*30#. No auto-renew. You can order a new pack before the expiry of old one in which case new pack will be suspended until expiry of old one.
- for 3G internet: still in testing phase
More infomation Edit
- Website: http://phoenix-dnr.ru (in Russian-only)
- APN: internet, username: phoenix, password: phoenix, auth: PAP
- Calls to other parts of Ukraine are flaky or don't work at all
Lugacom (in the Luhansk region only)Edit
Lugacom (in Russian: Лугаком) is a new operator started in 2016 using confiscated Kyivstar equipment in part of the Luhansk region that is not controlled by central government. It's in 2G-only on 900 and 1800 MHz. They form a single network with Phoenix, so you can use this SIM in Donetsk as well for the same rates and it will not be considered roaming
The SIM card is sold in post offices. Full list of points of sale: list (in Russian only). You need a passport to purchase a SIM and only 2 SIMs per person are allowed. The price is 120 RUB without any credit. Refills are available there as well or from independent shops.
Only one base tariff is available called "People's tariff" ("НАРОДНЫЙ"). It's 50 RUB per month and includes 3000 minutes of in-network calls and 300 in-network SMS, but no data.
Their mobile internet is under construction and in test phase. You may need to call tech support (dial 422) to enable it. But on bright side it's free up to now. You get only to EDGE speed (max. 150 kbit/s). No 3G or 4G is available yet.
- Website: http://lugacom.su (in Russian-only)
- Calls to other parts of Ukraine are flaky or don't work at all
- APN: internet