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Phones and internet in Russia

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Nowadays, telecommunications is an essential part of everyday life. You will likely want to keep in touch with your friends and relatives abroad if you are moving to Russia. The country has an extensive telecommunications network which will allow you to make phone calls, whether by land line or by mobile phones, at attractive rates. Some of these also offer cable TV along with other interesting packages.

Make sure to choose the best offer according to your needs and your financial needs. The ideal solution would be to find an accommodation which already has a phone or internet connection. This would help you save time, as well as money.

 Good to know:

You are not compelled to subscribe for a land line, internet and cable TV with the same service provider. You should compare prices before purchasing any services.

Landlines

If your accommodation is already equipped with a landline, you can continue using the same line by transferring the contract to your name. You just have to visit the phone service provider's nearest branch to your place of residence, along with your lease documents and your passport. If you prefer to change to another service provider, you may choose between Moscow Telephone Services (MTS) and Rostelecom which are the main phone service providers.

Mobile phones in Russia

Megafon, MTS and Beeline are Russia's top three mobile service providers, along with many other companies. You are free to choose between mobile phone contracts or rechargeable packages. Rates vary according to your contract or package, but they are very similar between the three providers. Hence you are advised to compare offers before choosing. You will generally pay around 500 Russian roubles for a package with 500 SMS, 500 minutes to call any other mobile or landline and 3 GB per month. Note that the basic and cheapest packages will only cover your region. When travelling outside your region, you will have to upgrade to another package that covers all regions of Russia otherwise your credit could end very quickly.

You can purchase SIM cards at any branch of your favourite service provider by producing your passport and your immigration card. Once your credit has been used up you can top up online, in store or via special payment machines which are located all over the country.

 Attention:

When your credit is over, your phone line will be blocked until you recharge your account. In some cases, you may be offered an option to continue using your services for another three days or up to a certain negative value before being blocked. This option can be convenient, particularly if you are waiting for your salary.

Internet

The most affordable and fastest internet packages are available in Moscow and St Petersburg. In other regions, you will just have to be a little bit patient.

If your accommodation does not yet have an internet connection, you will have to make the necessary arrangements. You can make an online application or call the provider of your choice. You will then have to wait for a couple of days to a week to have your internet connection installed. This service is usually free if you subscribe to a package with the same provider. You will generally pay around 400 Russian roubles for a reliable and fast connection which enables you to watch movies online.

 Good to know:

Internet contracts can be terminated with one month's notice.

Bills

Most banks offer direct debit facilities for the settlement of phone and internet bills. But you can also settle your bills at your service provider's nearest branch, on their website or via a smartphone app. You can also pay your bills yourself every month on the provider’s website, at their nearest branch or on your smartphone app.

 Good to know:

To subscribe to any new landline, phone or internet package, you will need your original passport. Hence it is best to take care of these procedures before handing in your passport to your work place which may keep it for a few days to register you.

 Useful links:

Rostelecom
Moscow City Telephone Services
BeeLine
MTS
MegaFon

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