Mobile Cell-phone: Will it Work in Russia?

Mobile in Russia

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Last updated:
30.07.2019

If you plan your travels to Russia, figuring out your cell phone choice should be on your to-do list. There are several ways you can go about having a working cell phone network. Let us talk you through them. 

GSM and CDMA operators in Russia

Leading Russian mobile operators use 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.

Lady using a phone in Moscow

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.

TIP:
To save money, purchase pay-as-you-go SIM card for your travels in Russia.

Using your SIM roaming

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).

Choosing a Russian mobile provider

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.

Taking advantage of the Wi-Fi

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.

Man using a phone in the hotel

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.

To sum up, there are a few ways you can go about connecting with your friends and family during your trip to Russia. You can use your own SIM card in the major cities, you can purchase a Russian SIM card, or use the Wi-Fi when in restaurants or hotels. Think carefully before you make a decision, you can also speak to one of our team members for personal advice.

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