Ifyou are going on a trip to Russia, you carefully prepare yourself: draw up the necessary documents, think over the route to the most interesting places in the city, book tickets and a hotel. Another important issue that worries many tourists is mobile communications. Which providers to choose? What is the cost to focus on? Where to find free WIFI in Moscow? About it — in our article today.
What are the advantages of using mobile communications in Russia? Today, Russia is the country with the fastest mobile Internet in the world, while the prices for mobile communications are the lowest. According to international organizations, the speed of mobile Internet in Russia is higher and more stable than a wired dedicated network in the USA and Japan — great news both for Muscovites and tourists who want to always be in touch during a trip.
In addition, in some countries, in order to use a local SIM card, you must register your device with a regulatory authority or buy a new phone in this country — otherwise the phone is blocked by IMEI. In Russia, there are no such restrictions for 2019, anyone from any country can purchase a package of mobile traffic and use it without fear of blocking.
The international code of mobile and city numbers in Russia is +7. Next is a three-digit city code, and in general a regular number consists of 11 digits. In addition to standard mobile communications, all the key international messengers are actively used in Russia: WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, Facebook Messenger (although Russians mostly prefer the VKontakte application of the popular Russian social network). You can add new friends and business partners to your contacts and communicate through instant messengers, including through voice messages and calls. Unlike Dubai or, for example, Morocco, video and audio calls through instant messengers are not blocked in Russia.
You can buy a SIM card at special desks in the arrivals area at any airport, at railway stations, in almost all shopping centers, in mobile phone stores, as well as in separate kiosks in many public places. If you arrive in Moscow by plane, we recommend purchasing a SIM card immediately at the airport: this way you can use local taxi applications (Yandex, Gett, CityMobil) and easily contact the driver to get to the city more profitably, or rent a car in one from local car sharing.
Let's get to know better with the major mobile providers
MTS is a member of the Big Three mobile operators (which also includes Beeline and Megafon). The company appeared on the market among the first, but continues to keep up to date. Almost all of the favorable tariffs include gigabytes of Internet, which is necessary to share your impressions of your trip on social networks or call up with relatives — you just have to choose the size of the package. Offers are mainly designed for long-term use, but payment is debited by the day, which means you can deposit exactly the amount you need during your stay in Russia. In addition, all expenses and operations are transparent and visible in the “MTS” application, which you can download to your smartphone after installing the SIM card.
Beeline is the choice of many customers in Russia. The company offers favorable tariffs in roaming even for those who like to talk for a while and with its commercials it also beckons us to relax at sea or go on a tour of Europe. However, if you use a SIM card traveling between different regions of Russia, Beeline will have the best rates for long-distance calls and home roaming.
But what if you do not need an Internet package, and you get a local SIM card just in case and do not plan to make a lot of calls? Like other mobile operators, with Beeline, you can connect to the basic tariff without a daily fee and deposit the minimum amount on a SIM card. If you want to keep an activated SIM card until your next trip to Russia, you can perform a minimal operation every two months — for example, send 1 SMS message — and your SIM card will work properly. However, for more accurate information on tariffs and services, we advise you to contact your mobile phone provider directly.
“The megaphone begins with you!” — the motto of the company sounds. Megafon stands for a customer-oriented approach and also provides users with the fastest Internet in the country, as evidenced by multiple awards: for the third year in a row, Megafon has won the Speedtest Award by Ookla and takes 1st place in the number of base stations. If Internet traffic plays a key role when buying a SIM card, we recommend that you consider the offers on the operator’s official website — especially if you plan to take a tablet with a SIM card for work or want to distribute Internet traffic through a modem.
The youngest player in the cellular market among the leading operators, Tele2 began an active promotion, offering users new rules for the provision of services. Favorable cellular packages, lower prices, the ability to exchange Internet between users and the extension of Internet traffic for the next month. The operator began its distribution through the regions, then conquering large megacities and having received at the moment, according to some reports, almost ¼ of the mobile communications market.
If you plan on long-term use of a SIM card, we advise you to take a closer look at Tele2, especially if the additional benefits and options that the company offers are relevant to you. However, if you need mobile communications for a short trip (from a couple of days to several weeks), then you may not notice a big difference compared to other operators.
And finally, some useful tips for travelers:
Use the free WI-FI network in Moscow
You will find free internet at almost every step: in most restaurants and cafes, from fast food chains to prestigious establishments, in the hotel lobby (and not only for guests), in public parks and on the streets in the city center — unlike in Italy , where sometimes free internet is not even in McDonald’s! Wireless Internet in Moscow public transport is rightfully considered one of the best in the world. Separately, it is worth noting WI-FI in the Moscow Metro, which in 2015 won the prestigious award at the WI-FI Industry Awards in the United States. To connect, you do not need a local SIM card: just view the ads, and then you get unlimited access, even for video and audio content. However, some free networks still request authentication through a local number, so a Russian SIM card will come in handy.
Use a second mobile phone for a Russian SIM card
Most likely, you still have a previous model of smartphone or a second mobile phone that you use in addition to your work or personal phone. Thus, you can continue to use the main phone, using the second mobile only for local calls and messages. And in case of loss or theft (which is unlikely, because in recent years the level of security in Moscow has increased significantly) you will have at least one device for communication.
Use the front desk and concierge services at the hotel
If you need to make an operational call or call a local number for a short conversation, contact the reception of the hotel where you are staying. Most premium hotels require concierge services, and you can ask staff to buy tickets for you, book a table in a restaurant, or arrange delivery — especially if you don’t speak Russian. If the situation is really urgent, then you will most likely be allowed to make a local call, even if you are not a hotel guest. Do not be afraid to approach the employees and talk about your problem: we are sure they will be happy to help you.