Mobile Cell-phone: Will it Work in Russia?

Mobile in Russia

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Leading Russian mobile operators have a developed nationwide network and use GSM (European Standard) and CDMA (American Standard) operators. GSM is used all over the country while the CDMA covers only Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Irkutsk. Most smartphones (like an iPhone or a Samsung) can be used in both standards but it’s important to check what standard your phone operates in before your trip. Unfortunately, if your phone can perform only in the CDMA standard, you won’t be able to make calls from it anywhere but the cities listed above.

Of course, it’s possible to dial using your own SIM using roaming, but this may result in a huge bill at the end of the month, so make sure to ask your service provider about the international roaming rates and hidden charges prior to your trip. Alternatively, you can save some money by getting a local SIM card. A “pay-as-you-go” SIM will cost your approximately 10$ and it’s possible to get one directly at the airport upon arrival, all you need is a passport and Russian visa (if you need one).

There are four major mobile providers in Russia: MegaFon, MTS, Beeline, and Tele2. If you are planning to visit several cities, it’s better to check the coverage and tariffs for each operator for every one of your destinations before getting a new SIM. But be prepared, there are several ‘blank’ spots throughout the country that aren’t covered by any network provider, though, as a rule, it’s true only for the small villages and very distinct regions.

Not bothering with a local SIM or roaming is an option too, some travelers prefer to keep in touch with their nearest and dearest using Wi-Fi. You can connect to it in most hotels and cafes during your vacation to Russia, but keep in mind that the signal might be not very strong in the remote parts of the country.