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Mobile phones - and no contrOversy

 
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bennybunny



Joined: 25 Oct 2004
Posts: 11
Location: London

PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2004 3:30 pm    Post subject: Mobile phones - and no contrOversy Reply with quote

Could anyone please tell me what the situation is with mobile phones in Russia - will I be able to buy a pay as you go model out there and if so how much might a handset cost and what are call/text charges, etc. Or, come to think of it, do people generally bother with mobiles or just do without?
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bobs12



Joined: 27 Apr 2004
Posts: 310
Location: Saint Petersburg

PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2004 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as I know most people just go without. They're a real hassle, and not many people really use them. They're so expensive, and the coverage is terrible. If you do connect, Tele2, Delta or Skylink is best. I wouldn't bring a handset with you, as customs will just take it from you if they find it. If you declare it, you'll have to pay almost the price of a Russian unit for a temporary user licence, or else you may find yourself accused of having a stolen phone (police will check your phone documents along with your passport. No documents, they'll confiscate your handset).

That licence will run out within (I think) about a month, and you'll have to either return to the border to renew it or go to customs and pay the full customs import charges for your phone. If you buy a Russian phone, sure, you'll get a user permit, but the only affordable ones are the 'second hand' (read stolen, or stolen and imported) units, and you can be sure of problems with them.
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canucktechie



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Posts: 343
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2004 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is the previous post supposed to be a joke? Everyone in Russia seems to have a mobile. And you really shouldn't have any problem bringing one in - just put it in your luggage. Or, you can buy one for about $100.

For typical rates look at www.beeline.ru.
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zaneth



Joined: 31 Mar 2004
Posts: 545
Location: Between Russia and Germany

PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2004 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bobs12, where are you living? What are you smoking?

when I play ping pong with the guys, they hang up their coats and then line their cell phones up on a little table off to the side.

In moscow this weekend I heard beeps and rings and text message signals almost constantly.

In my previous town my refusal to get a cell phone was something of an annoyance to colleagues (but I also lacked a land line so that was probably part of the problem - I was hard core luddite back then).

A large number of average Russians have cell phones, so it can't be too expensive.

I wasn't able to get a phone for $100 but I got one (a slightly older model) for under $200. In a regular store.

The model I picked out for possible purchase in the states was actually slightly less expensive than the same model here in Russia.

I use my phone sparingly. I get a card for 300 rubles ($10) and it lasts about a month. I use sms a lot. In my town most people have the same service, as it has the best coverage. Calls between the same service are very cheap or free. The prepaid is the most common and you can buy cards everywhere or go into a phone shop and they'll put more money on it by computer.

You do have to show your passport and registration to the store when you buy the sim card. Why, I don't know. I'm just glad I don't have to show my passport to buy food or go to the toilet. But that's not a major problem. If you're in Russia without those things in order you have bigger problems than cell-phone purchasing.

You can just about get through the whole process without speaking Russian.

So even I, the forum's cheapskate luddite, have a cell phone. That should tell you something about their availability.
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alekto



Joined: 16 Sep 2004
Posts: 21
Location: Moscow, Russia

PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 3:54 pm    Post subject: Mobiles... Reply with quote

I have heard conflicting stories about the legality of a foreigner subscribing.

Basically, it seems shops can be picky - technically only Russian residents are supposed to be able to get (and register) a SIM card, but in some places it seems they don't care about this.

So try your luck. You will need a passport and a photocopy and so on. It'll probably be an idea to have a Russian friend on hand to help with the forms/iron out any problems.

I originally brought my own mobile and used roming...after two years I finally caved in and got a Russian SIM card, after much goading from colleagues and friends for not having a "local" number Smile

The card was about 600rubles and I survive very well on a 300ruble a month card to top it up.

I bought a new phone a year ago. It's not the flashiest of phones (Sony T100), but it's unlocked (I still sometimes use my UK SIM card so it's important to have a phone I can swap cards in) and cost about $70. You can get basic, not-great but ok ones for about $50 if you look hard enough.

There are many different providers. I've heard that MTS (MTC) have an English-speaking service and this makes them the prefered choice for expat types...but I've also heard they can rip you off sometimes. I was told to invest in BeeLine (БиЛаин) and have had no complaints, although it's rather annoying that it's all in Russian! I have no idea about other providers like SkyLink.

Good luck!
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Zorba



Joined: 21 Nov 2004
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Would agree with alekto. Certainly in the major cities (Moscow, St P) I don't know anyone who had problems setting up a pay-as-you-go plan ("bez abonentskoi plati", I think in Russian) but in the provinces quite a few shops refused to give me one, saying I needed a Russian passport or some kind of document signed by the local OVIR. I remember one day I tried six different shops; they all refused because I was foreign. In the last one, the girl was about to sell me a phone, I had signed everything and even got my phone number. She went to open the glass cabinet where the phones were kept. Her key twisted and broke off in the lock, so there was no way of getting the phone out. "Chto delat?" she asked.

With a bit of perserverance and a Russian friend you shouldn't have any problem getting fixed up. Remember, documents and persistence can get you anywhere. All Russians who can afford English lessons will certainly have mobile phones, they are very widespread. All the major cities and surrounding oblasts have network coverage. One annoying thing is the networks tend to charge you for receiving calls as well as making them.
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waxwing



Joined: 29 Jun 2003
Posts: 719
Location: China

PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2004 4:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with the poster who agreed with the previous poster Smile
The simple solution is to get a friend to register for you .. I did that twice in the provinces. I must admit I was a bit gobsmacked at that requirement, but there you go.

They are of course invaluable in Russia, just as they are elsewhere.
BeeLine worked well for me, although I have heard complaints about them in some places.
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bobs12



Joined: 27 Apr 2004
Posts: 310
Location: Saint Petersburg

PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2004 6:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

:sigh: obviously nobody was game for a wind-up Laughing

There's usually no problem signing upa PAYG in Petersburg, though two years ago in Moscow I had to get a friend to register the PAYG SIM for me. In SPb, if you have any problems with a big main street outlet, go to a smaller, back-street shop.

There is talk of control (registration) on people bringing mobiles into the country though, due to the number of 'thefts' being reported for insurance purposes. Can't see it working, especially when the 200 roubles that I accidentally left folded up in my customs form at the border yesterday got me an extra six weeks clearance for a car that should have left the country almost three months ago... Very Happy

С первым снегом!!!
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canucktechie



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Posts: 343
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2004 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is no problem with a foreigner buying a SIM card IF you are registered in the city where you are buying it. I did it no problem. If you are not registered, you probably will have to get someone who is to buy one for you.
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zaneth



Joined: 31 Mar 2004
Posts: 545
Location: Between Russia and Germany

PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2004 2:25 pm    Post subject: correction Reply with quote

Excuse me, I did get my phone for under $100. Don't know what I was thinking when I wrote the previous post. Had rubles ('rubbles') and dollars mixed up in my head.

I think I paid about 70 for it. Even came with a english instruction book.

what's this about beeline being all in Russian? You can set your phone to English and Beeline even has an english website, don't they?
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Castro



Joined: 14 May 2003
Posts: 57
Location: still Russia

PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2004 3:03 pm    Post subject: English sites of three biggest mobile companies Reply with quote

zaneth wrote:

"and Beeline even has an english website, don't they?"

There are English sites of three biggest companies which provide a cellular network in Russia. You can compare rates & services.

http://www.unbound.ru/2d/advice.html#5a
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steven_gerrard



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Posts: 155

PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2004 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you are registered in Moscow then you can get a sim card in Moscow no problem.

How much you spend per month is of course entirely up to you but I think $10 a month is really for the super-thrifty who very rarely make (or receive) calls and don't send many texts.
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Communist Smurf



Joined: 24 Jun 2003
Posts: 330
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2004 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing to remember about Beeline. If you receive a call from another cell phone (any company), it's free. If you receive or make a phone call from a landline, it'll cost you about $.30 per minute! If you make a call to a cell phone, it's about $.10.

I suppose there might be other plans out there with Beeline, I just know the plan I have. Russians I know consider it taboo to call someone from a landline to a Beeline user.

I think MTC/MTS can receive unlimited incoming calls and has the best service. But you can't pay by the minute and will have monthly charges.

CS
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