Obtaining local phone and internet access is one of the first steps you may want to take upon moving in. Although most restaurants and cafes offer free WiFi and pay-as-you-go phones ('kontorlu telefon') are available in some shops, having your own, steady access will be key for your new life.
As you will see, Turks are very keen on communication technologies, and the country enjoys very good coverage for phone and high-speed internet — both mobile and fixed.
If you plan on bringing along and using your foreign phone, you should first of all make sure it is unlocked (that is, not tied to a single provider) and able to work with a Turkish SIM card.
Besides, foreign mobile phones brought into Turkey have to be registered with Turkish authorities in order to be used within the country, otherwise they get blocked after 120 days. Just go to a branch of your chosen mobile service provider, which will be able to fill you in about the details and navigate you through the process. The total cost for phone registration is about 150 Turkish liras.
You only can register one foreign mobile phone every two years
Another option is to purchase a Turkish mobile phone. The latest smartphones tend to be slightly more expensive there than in Europe or the USA, but a number of small shops sell second-hand phones (around 100 liras for the cheapest, basic feature models).
Once your phone is up and running, it is time to procure a Turkish SIM card. Turkey's leading mobile service providers are Turkcell, Vodafone and Avea. All three offer prepaid or subscription-based packages including voice calls, SMS and mobile data, from 20-30 liras a month.
Pre-paid plans may be easier to purchase if do not have a local bank account and residence permit yet.
In order to get home phone and fixed internet, you should first check whether your dwelling has been connected in the past and is associated with a functional landline. If not, Turkey’s historical operator, Turk Telekom, can provide you one for a 192 liras connection fee.
For your communications plan, you can elect to stay with Turk Telekom, or to turn to competitors Turksat or Turkcell Superonline. All offer bundles including home phone and unlimited high-speed internet, some also comprising access to cable TV, with subscription periods ranging from 3 to 24 months and costing from around 30 liras monthly.
You will be required to present valid Turkish identity papers in order to open a fixed phone or internet line. If you do not have your residence permit yet, your landlord should be able to give you a hand and open one on your behalf.
Good to know:
Turkish phone numbers break down as follows:
0090 (the international phone code, optional if you are dialling within the country) followed by a three-digit area-specific code, and a unique combination of seven digits.
For example, the contact number of the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications is 0090 312 203 10 00