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Belarus

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IntroductionEdit

There are three networks in Belarus:

  • MTS (Russian owned)
  • Velcom (Austrian owned)
  • Life (Turkish owned)

Many people in Belarus carry two mobiles, one with an MTS SIM card and the other with a Velcom SIM card, in order to avoid paying for more expensive cross-network calls. Life is very much in third place.

MTSEdit

Reasons for choosing MTS (МТС in Russian) are:

  • Availability of micro-SIMs for prepaid customers.
  • Expiry policy of 180 days after non-usage, meaning that you can easily keep the SIM active indefinitely for future trips to Belarus, for example by sending a roaming SMS.

MTS has a Гостевой (guest/visitor) tariff that does not require the customer to be registered with the authorities in Belarus. Although this tariff offers cheaper international calls, it does not allow international roaming, making it harder to keep the SIM card active after leaving Belarus.

To get other tariffs, you need to be registered with the authorities in Belarus. A stamp by your hotel on the back of the immigration card in your passport is sufficient, and this is routinely done by hotels upon check-in.

Another prepaid tariff worth considering is Onliner.by. You need to sign up 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, either yourself or when buying the SIM card in an MTS shop. In order to get roaming "Международный роуминг" activated, you will need a starting credit of BYR 25,000 (€2.39) as opposed to the minimum starting credit of BYR 10,000. 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 pro-rata cost of bundles is deducted on a daily basis rather than one big hit upon activating the bundle.

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

The Speedtest.net app on an iPhone 4 in June 2012 gave 6Mbps downstream and 3.3Mbps upstream.

VelcomEdit

Micro-SIMs are not available for Привет (Privet) prepaid tariffs, only for monthly contract tariffs.

According to an e-mail from Velcom, the expiry policy of SIM cards is as follows:

"PRIVET is a set of services of mobile telecommunication rendered on a prepayment basis with tariffing in a real time mode. There are several statuses of a PRIVET subscriber:

· Activation expectation (It is an initial status of a PRIVET subscriber. This status allows you to get activated only by means of a USSD request. You will not be able to make use of telecommunication services before activation. Topping-up is only possible after activation.);

· Active (In the Active status you can use telecommunication services in full. The validity period of the Active status from the activation date makes 180 calendar days. Then the validity period of the Active status depends on the amount of a single payment and makes:

· 180 calendar days from the date of topping-up of the account by a single payment at the rate from 10 000 to 49 999 roubles. The day of topping-up of the account by a single payment at the rate of 10 000 roubles and more is considered the first day of the validity period of the Active status.

· 365 calendar days from the date of topping-up of the account by a single payment at the rate of 50,000 roubles and more. The day of topping-up of the account by a single payment at the rate of 50,000 roubles and more is considered the first day of the validity period of the Active status. In this case subsequent topping-ups of the account by a single payment at the rate less than 50,000 roubles do not change the validity period of the Active status within 186 days.);

• Call barring (After the expiration of the validity period of the Active status, a PRIVET subscriber is automatically transferred to the Call barring status, irrespective of the rest of money in balance. In the Call barring status incoming calls and messages (except for MMS messages) are only available. Outgoing calls are possible to be made to reference service 411 only; several USSD requests are also available. The validity period of the Call barring status makes 60 calendar days from the date of the status change. Then the following variants are possible:

· When the account is topped up during the validity period of the Call barring status by a single payment at the rate of 10 000 roubles and more the status of a PRIVET subscriber is automatically changed for Active.

· When the account is topped up during the validity period of the Call barring status by a single payment at the rate less than 10 000 roubles, prepayments are summed up; the validity period of the current status is not changed.

· If the account is not topped up during the validity period of the Call barring status by a single payment at the rate of 10 000 roubles and more, the status is automatically changed for the Blocking status.);

• Blocking (After the expiration of the validity period of the Call barring status, a PRIVET subscriber is automatically transferred to the Blocking status, irrespective of the rest of money in balance. In the Blocking status all telecommunication services are disconnected. The validity period of the Blocking status makes 30 calendar days from the date of the status change. Then the following variants are possible: When the account is topped up during the validity period of the Blocking status by a single payment at the rate of 10 000 roubles and more the status of a PRIVET subscriber is automatically changed for Active.

· When the account is topped up during the validity period of the Blocking status by a single payment at the rate less than 10 000 roubles, prepayments are summed up; the validity period of the current status is not changed.

· If the account is not topped up during the validity period of the Blocking by a single payment at the rate of 10 000 roubles and more, the status is automatically changed for the Servicing termination status.

· If the account is not topped up during the validity period of the Blocking by a single payment at the rate of 10 000 roubles and more, the status is automatically changed for the Servicing termination status.

• Servicing termination (After the expiration of the validity period of the Blocking status, a PRIVET subscriber is automatically transferred to the Servicing termination status. When such a status is received, one loses a possibility to use PRIVET services. Servicing of your number is stopped. If you want to use PRIVET services in the future, you will need to purchase a new PRIVET package.)

When a status is changed, you will receive a notification to your mobile phone in the form of an SMS message or a USSD message."

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