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NFH (Offline)
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Default Belarus report (MTS / МТС) - 21-06-2012, 18:17

Many people in Belarus carry two mobiles, one on MTS (МТС in Russian) and the other on Velcom, just so they don't have to make more expensive cross-network calls. I chose MTS mainly because of its reasonable 180-day non-usage expiry policy (Velcom requires periodic top-ups) and because MTS issues micro-SIMs to prepaid customers, whereas Velcom issues micro-SIMs only to monthly contract customers. I was very pleased with my choice.

MTS has a Гостевой (guest/visitor) tariff that doesn't require the customer to be registered with the authorities in Belarus. However, the problem with this tariff is that roaming not available, meaning that it can be hard to use the SIM every 180 days in order to prevent it from expiring. It therefore makes sense to go for one of the other tariffs, for example Onliner.by.

To get the Onliner.by tariff, you just need to create a profile at https://profile.onliner.by/reg/ following which you will see an МТС-код in your profile. You will need this code in order to activate the Onliner.by tariff. In order to get roaming "Международный роуминг" activated, you will need a starting credit of BYR 25,000 (€2.39). To buy the SIM card, you will personally need to be registered in Belarus and show your passport at an MTS shop. A stamp on your immigration card by a hotel is sufficient, which is routinely done at check-in.

The Onliner.by data bundles are cheaper if you also buy a bundle of calls. For example, 300MB costs BYR 21,000 but only BYR 6,300 if you also buy a bundle of 100 minutes for BYR 11,500. Therefore 300MB + 100 minutes = BYR 17,800 (€1.70) whereas 300MB alone = BYR 21,000 (€2.01). It therefore always makes sense to buy a calls bundle even if you don't need it. When you add a bundle, the price and allowance is pro-rated until the end of the month. Therefore if you need 250MB and you buy the SIM card halfway through the month, buy a 500MB bundle. The cost of bundles is deducted on a daily basis rather than one big hit upon activation.

SMS costs BYR 180 (€0.017) to any number in the world.

Using the Speedtest.net app on my iPhone 4, I got 6Mbps downstream and 3.3Mbps upstream.
   
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Default 22-06-2012, 21:53

Last year I have been in Belarus and I chose Velcom's Privet. Their top up policy isn't that bad (once a year if I remember correctly) and they have the best coverage. I just bought one 20.000 voucher to recharge once from abroad before I visit Belarus again. Actually I found using prepaid in Belarus a very smooth experience - everything was fast and worked just like it should.


Mobile internet sim cards:
INT: abroadband, NL: Simyo, *bliep, BE: Colruyt Mobile, MEDIONmobile, LUX: Orange, PL: mBank Mobile,
DE: Congstar, MEDIONmobile, IE: Vodafone, CH: OK Mobil, SwissCom, SE: Telia, ES: MásMovil,
GR: Cosmote, IT: TIM, RO: Vodafone, RS: mt:s, BY: Privet, UA: Kievstar, MD: Moldcell

Feel free to consult me about sim cards in the Benelux and Poland.
   
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Default 22-06-2012, 22:07

In my experience, MTS's coverage is better than Velcom's. I arrived in Belarus by coach from Vilnius and therefore couldn't buy a SIM card until arriving in Minsk. Using my UK contract SIM card from the border to Minsk, my iPhone naturally favoured MTS because it had a stronger signal. Even when I manually switched to Velcom, it soon switched back to MTS.

I avoid networks that require periodic top-ups. I'm not willing to keep spending money when I don't know when I'll next visit a particularly country. MTS doesn't require periodic top-ups, but usage every 180 days, e.g. a roaming SMS.
   
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kuba.g (Offline)
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Default 22-06-2012, 22:46

True, a validity that extends itself on sending a cheap SMS is the best policy we can have unfortunately there aren't many such operators in Europe...


Mobile internet sim cards:
INT: abroadband, NL: Simyo, *bliep, BE: Colruyt Mobile, MEDIONmobile, LUX: Orange, PL: mBank Mobile,
DE: Congstar, MEDIONmobile, IE: Vodafone, CH: OK Mobil, SwissCom, SE: Telia, ES: MásMovil,
GR: Cosmote, IT: TIM, RO: Vodafone, RS: mt:s, BY: Privet, UA: Kievstar, MD: Moldcell

Feel free to consult me about sim cards in the Benelux and Poland.
   
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Default 26-07-2012, 13:40

Quote:
Originally Posted by NFH View Post
In my experience, MTS's coverage is better than Velcom's. I arrived in Belarus by coach from Vilnius and therefore couldn't buy a SIM card until arriving in Minsk. Using my UK contract SIM card from the border to Minsk, my iPhone naturally favoured MTS because it had a stronger signal. Even when I manually switched to Velcom, it soon switched back to MTS.
that's usually not because of better network but it mainly depends on agreements between the 2 operators. Probably (surely) your UK operator has a cheaper agreement with MTS.

I live by the border between Italy and Slovenia. Wind and Vodafone always prefer to roam on SiMobil (Vodafone Slovenia) even when Mobitel has better signal.

AFAIK in Belarus Velcom has the best network, followed by MTS and Life. But in main towns/roads they should all be similar.


Working Prepaids: IT: Wind, Vodafone IT, UNO Mobile; SM: Prima; UK: 3, Virgin; INT: TravelSIM, Truphone.
Deceased Prepaids: CZ: Oskar, Eurotel; SK: Orange; DE: E-Plus, Aldi, Simyo; GE: Geocell; AM: Armentel; PL: Heyah, Plus; LT: Tele2; LV: Amigo; EE: Elisa; UA: Kyivstar; NZ: Vodafone; INT: UM, UM+, ICQSim.
GSM/3G Phones: Nokia Lumia 630 dual sim
   
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NFH (Offline)
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Default 26-07-2012, 15:09

Quote:
Originally Posted by Effendi View Post
that's usually not because of better network but it mainly depends on agreements between the 2 operators. Probably (surely) your UK operator has a cheaper agreement with MTS.
No, my Orange UK SIM had no Belarusian preferred networks on it. Therefore MTS, Velcom and Life all had equal chance of my iPhone logging on to them. The consistency of MTS's strong signal meant that my iPhone selected MTS.
   
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Default Bying a prepaid SIM card is very easy - 08-05-2014, 21:47

For those traveling to the Ice hockey championships using the visa free entry to Belarus:

Getting a prepaid SIM card is easy and not expensive. I bought my in a telecommunications shop of a small shopping center (russian связьб "svyaz" = communications).

The SIM card of MTS network I chose costs 10,000 BYR (Belarus Roubles, see Yahoo currency converter) including 10,000 BYR. It is easy to top up by internet, though I did not find the registration button on the English version of mts.by. I booked 1 GByte internet traffic for USD 5.

The championships special offer of Velcom network is cheaper: For 30,000 BYR (USD 3) you get the SIM card and 1 GByte internet traffic.

Callback works but only after my complain to my provider.

Credit card acceptance is excellent allover Belarus. SIM card options may be managed by USSD codes in both networks. There is phone support in English language too (free of charge).
   
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Default 08-05-2014, 22:04

I visited Belarus during the first 5 days of the 6-week visa free period, and using a British credit card I topped up my existing MTS SIM card via credit card online with the negligible amount I needed for 500MB of data. I am really impressed with MTS.

One thing I did notice on this visit was that all SIP seems to be blocked, both on MTS and via non-mobile internet connections such as residential broadband. I also tried MegaFon's MultiFon service, which likewise uses SIP, but that was blocked too. Other VOIP services like Skype and FreeVoipDeal's proprietary app worked fine.
   
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