Internet and Mobile
In this day and age internet plays a huge part in everyday life and you don’t always realise how much you rely on the internet until you are without it! So getting connected will undoubtedly be high up on your ‘to do’ list when you arrive in Moscow.
But before you panic, remember that there is pretty much unlimited free Wi-Fi wherever you might be in Moscow, even on the circle line on the metro! So you won’t be stuck in your first few days in the city.
There are two main options for accessing Wi-Fi in your home. And the good news is that most of them operate on a pay-as-you-go basis so no minimum-term contracts!
Option 1 – Subscription to Wi-Fi Access Points
This option involves paying a monthly subscription (usually around 500 roubles) which grants you access to city-wide Wi-Fi hotspots.
The advantages are that you can log on to the Wi-Fi whenever you are within reach of an access point and it minimises set up time and costs. The obvious disadvantage is that signal strength varies, so check your area’s signal BEFORE you top up!
Option 2 – Home Broadband
This can be a little trickier to set up. For most providers you will need to have a landline phone connection. This is usually a given in Moscow apartments, as local calls i.e. within Moscow are free. It might be worth asking a Russian speaking friend or colleague to run through the different providers and options with you and to help you arrange installation.
Make sure that whoever comes to install your internet provides you with all the necessary equipment e.g. required router and cabling and remember that you will pay a one-off connection fee and there will usually be a charge for the equipment.
You can pay your internet charges at the many payment terminals in underpasses and shops but beware that some charge up to 10% commission so it is worth checking first. Simply key in your account number/network key, feed in your money and away you go! You can also top up without commission at cash machines, in ‘Evroset ’ shops (the central stores have English speaking staff who are very helpful) and on the website of your service provider.
One of the first things to do when you get to Moscow is to get yourself a Russian SIM card, as roaming charges are exorbitant here! Providing you have an unlocked phone, you should be able to use your existing handset, although it may be worth purchasing one designed for the Russian market if yours doesn’t have the Cyrillic alphabet on it.
You will be pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive even the all-inclusive monthly tariffs are here in Russia. This is partly because handsets are always bought separately, so you are just paying for the services you use and not for the actual phone. SIMs usually cost between 150 and 400 roubles depending on your package and this usually includes some credit to get you started. You can get an all-inclusive tariff for as little as 500 roubles per month.
There are two main payment plans in Russia – payment in advance and payment in arrears. There is little difference in costs between the two plans.
You can top up your phone at the many payment terminals in underpasses and shops but beware that some charge up to 10% commission so it is worth checking first. Simply key in your number, feed in your money and away you go! You can also top up without commission at cash machines, in ‘Evroset ’ shops (the central stores have English speaking staff who are very helpful) and on the website of your service provider.
Here are the main service providers in Moscow:
· Beeline (website has limited information in English, mainly relating to roaming)
· MTS (website has details of tariffs in English and an English speaking helpline)
TIP: If you are going to be texting or calling internationally, you can purchase special tariffs or add-ons from most service providers which will give you excellent rates!