There are 3 network operators in the country:
- Tele2 (merged with Altel)
2G is up to EDGE on 900 MHz on all networks. 3G up to DC-HSPA+ on 2100 MHz on all networks. 4G/LTE started on Altel in 2013 on 1800 MHz and covers about 56% of the population in 2015. All of Kazakhstan’s cellular operators have launched 4G/LTE on 800 (band 20), 1800 MHz (band 3) or 2100 MHz (band 1) in every regional capital and expand services to most cities by the end by 2017.
Kcell and Beeline traditionally offer the best coverage and quality of service. In 2015 Tele2 and Altel (Kazakhtelecom) announced plans to put together their mobile operations in the country by creating a joint venture and merging their two networks in 2016/7. Altel shut down the last remaining CDMA network in 2015.
There are many small reseller offices in airports, train stations and shops, but their employees mostly don't speak English (except possibly in airports). You are required by law to present your ID (or passport) at the point of purchase. This used to be enforced not so strictly in the past, but from 2018 registration is much stricter now.
IMEI registration rule
In 2018 the government of Kazakhstan introduced a mandatory requirement for foreigners to register their handsets when visiting the country. The requirement doesn‘t cover devices used for roaming services, as well as for M2M services. Foreign customers using local SIM cards of Kazakhstan mobile operators are required to register their devices.
From 1st January 2019 all devices using local Kazakh mobile SIM cards must be registered (with a few exceptions, like M2M devices and foreign devices roaming in Kazakhstan).The registration is done automatically, nationals need to bind their national ID number "ИИН" (IIN) to their mobile account. Foreigners need to submit their passport number.
It works the following way: If it's the first time that device connects to the network, its IMEI number and personal identification number that were associated to the mobile account will be submitted to a common government database (called BDIK) to link it together. After that, the device is locked-in to that person's personal data and cannot be used with any other SIM card from a Kazakh operator that is not registered to the same "IIN" or other personal ID number (with the exception of foreign SIM cards). To reenable the device to be used with another person's registration details, the person who originally registered it, needs to go to an operator's store with a photo ID and unlink the IMEI from his or her identity. That's why it will not be possible anymore to change devices easily using the same Kazakh SIM card or using the same device with different Kazakh SIM cards..
Dialing rules for calls
For dialing Kazakhstan has some specifics: The international dialing prefix is "8->10" - callers dial '8', wait for a tone, and then dial '10', followed by the country code, area code and number. The long distance and domestic mobile dialing prefix is "8" - callers dial '8', wait for a tone, and then dial the area code and number. Under an agreement with Russia, Kazakhstan uses the same country code "+7" like Russia. So for calls to Russia, you can skip international access and country codes.
You can cut costs for international calls by using call cards sold at mobile phone shops and kiosks. You scratch off a PIN, dial a local access number given on the card and further instructions then are available in English.
Kcell is the leading mobile provider in the country caring for 41% of mobile users. It's operated by GSM Kazakhstan Ltd. under the Kcell and Activ trademarks. It's partly owned by Swedish TeliaSonera and has the best coverage.
Kcell’s 2G network covers 96% of the population and 47% of the territory, while its 3G services are available to around 70% of the people: Coverage map by region. Kcell launched 4G/LTE in 2016 in Almaty, Atyrau, Aktau and Shymkent and through network sharing with Beeline in further 9 towns, open for prepaid. It's on 800 MHz (band 20) and 1800 MHz (band 3): 4G map.
Their SIM card is sold at their shops (service point locator). They charge you 1500 tenge including 1300 tenge preloaded credit. As a foreigner you need to provide your passport of a foreign citizen, a foreigner's residence permit in the Republic of Kazakhstan, a certificate of a stateless person or a diplomatic card. The basic prepaid plan is called 'Basic+' (Базалық+).
You can top-up at pay terminals or using recharge cards. They are sold for 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 tenge. To load, type *110*<13-digit voucher PIN>#. Or you can pay online by credit card.
Data feature package
Mobile internet by default is charged at 20 ₸/MB on all tariffs. These packages are sold:
|10 MB||29 ₸||*444*1*1*1#||4 ₸/MB|
|20 MB||39 ₸||*444*1*1*2#||3 ₸/MB|
|40 MB||49 ₸||*444*1*1*3#||2 ₸/MB|
|100 MB||59 ₸||*444*1*1*4#||1 ₸/MB|
|30 days||5 GB||1490 ₸||*444*4*1*5#||throttled to
|10 GB||1990 ₸||*444*4*1*10#|
|20 GB||2990 ₸||*444*4*1*20#|
|30 GB||3990 ₸||*444*4*1*30#|
|40 GB||4990 ₸||*444*4*1*40#|
|3 months||20 GB
|8990 ₸||*444*3*1*3#||throttled to
|6 months||11990 ₸||*444*3*1*2#|
|12 months||14990 ₸||*444*3*1*1#|
All packages auto-renew. To stop the daily packs, type *444*1*4# and for the monthy packs *444*4*4#. To check status of the packages, type *444*1*3# for daily and *444*4*3# for monthly. You can reset high speed on monthly packs ahead by adding extra turbo packages:
- 500 MB: 200 ₸
- 1 GB: 400 ₸
- 2 GB: 600 ₸
- 5 GB: 1490 ₸
- 10 GB: 1990 ₸
Activation of the extra packages is by *190#. Validity is for the rest of the running time of the base package. Check balance by *100#.
For roaming Kcell sells their Internet Tourist pack:
- 150 MB for 5 days: 1490 ₸, activation: *244*1#, deactivation: *244*2#
Data are valid in Russia (excluding Crimea), Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, China (not including Hong Kong and Taiwan), UK, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, UAE, USA, Turkey, Thailand, France, Czech Rep.
Also these data packages can be purchased for roaming valid for 10 days:
|300 MB||4490 ₸||*341*1*1#|
|700 MB||7690 ₸||*341*2*1#|
|1.5 GB||13490 ₸||*341*3*1#|
Data are only valid in: Australia, Georgia, Lithuania, Thailand, Austria, Denmark, Moldova, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Israel, Netherlands, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Spain, Norway, Ukraine (excluding Crimea), Belarus, Italy, South Korea, France, Bulgaria, Canada, Russia (excluding Crimea), Czech Rep, UK, China, USA, Switzerland, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Japan, Hong Kong, Latvia, UAE.
Kcell is more expensive for roaming than other providers.
- APN: internet
- Website in English: http://www.kcell.kz/en
Beeline is run by Kar-Tel under the license of Veon in Kazachstan. Beeline charges lower prices than Kcell while it's network is almost as good as Kcell's. In 2016 it launched 4G/LTE in the cities of Almaty, Aksay, Uralsk and Astana on 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz (Bands 1, 3, 20) opened for all users: 4G coverage map. You need to have one of the new 4G-enabled USIMs for LTE. By the end of 2017 it has covered 47% of population by 4G.
Beeline's SIM cards used to be available without registration, but this may have changed now. They are often sold on the streets for a very low price like 150-1000 tenge. Their default tariff line without monthly fees is called "For Conversations" (Сөйлесуге арналған) .
To top-up your credit you need to go to one of the many machines on the street.
Data feature package
Default rate is 20 tenge for 50 MB of data up to 1 GB per month. These packages can be added:
|daily||100 MB||30 ₸||*623*1#|
|30 days||3 GB||890 ₸||*522*3#|
|5 GB||1190 ₸||*522*5#|
|12 GB||1790 ₸||*522*12#|
|20 GB||2590 ₸||*522*20#|
|30 GB||3290 ₸||*522*30#|
Data will be cut-off, when used up. All packages auto-renew. To stop, type *622*333#. Daily package is valid until midnight. To check data credit, type *106#. To check money credit, type *102#. These add-on packages for extra data are offered:
- 2 GB: 790 ₸, activation: *524*2#
- 4 GB: 1290 ₸, activation: *524*4#
- 8 GB: 1590 ₸, activation: *524*8#
For nighttime use they offer unlimited internet from midnight to 7am for 150 ₸ per week. To activate enter *599*7#. It will auto-renew. To cancel type *599*0#.
International roaming 
These data packages can be purchased for roaming valid for 30 days:
|Package||Data (II)||Bonus data (I)||Price||Activation|
|100 MB||+ 900 MB||1990 ₸||*120*222#|
|1 GB||+ 3 GB||4990 ₸||*120*333#|
An additional 100 MB can be added for 990 ₸ using the USSD *120*111# at any time and will be valid until the main "SuperVisa" package expires.
(I) Data and bonus data are valid in CIS countries incl. Georgia: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine.
(II) Data without bonus are valid: Australia, Austria, Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, UK, Hungary, Vietnam, Germany, Hong Kong, Greece, Denmark, Jersey, Egypt, Israel, Indonesia, Ireland, Iceland, Spain, Italy , Cambodia, Canada, Qatar, Cyprus, China, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, UAE, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, USA, Taiwan, Thailand, Tanzania, Turkey, Philippines, Finland, France, Croatia, Montenegro, Czech Rep., Switzerland, Sweden, Sri Lanka, Estonia, South Africa, South Korea, Japan.
- APN: internet.beeline.kz
- Website in Kazakh and Russian: https://www.beeline.kz
Tele2 (merged with Altel)
Tele2 used to be an operator solely owned by the Swedish Tele2 Group. It had about 4000 base stations covering 85% of population making it one of the smaller networks in the country.
In 2015 they agreed to a merger with Kazakhtelecom, owner of the Altel network (see below). The new company is now a joint venture of Tele2 and Kazakhtelecom. Tele2 started to resell Alltel's 4G/LTE on 1800 MHz in Astana, Almaty, Akmola, South Kazakhstan, Zhambyl, Karagandy, Kostanay and North Kazakhstan. In 2017 both networks are being integrated.
Tele2's SIM cards are available in their stores (list) and come in different plans. The only one without a base rate is called Зазвони всех (call everyone) and can be selected by *122*35#.
There are also a set of Твои правила (your rules) plans which allow customized allocation of data/voice/SMS allowances, but all come with unlimited on-net voice (default allocation and maximum-data allocation shown below):
- 2490 ₸ for 50 all-net mins and 6 GB (default) or 10 all-net mins and 10 GB (maximum data), activation: *122*91#
- 3190 ₸ for 100 all-net mins and 12 GB (default) or 10 all-net mins and 21 GB (maximum data), activation: *122*92#
- 3890 ₸ for 200 all-net mins and 17 GB (default) or 10 all-net mins and 36 GB (maximum data), activation: *122*93#
Youtube, Instagram, Tik-Tok, WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, Twitch, Vkontakte, Facebook, Odnoklassniki, Tinder, Likee, and Netflix data do not count against your allowance on the 3890 ₸ plan.
You can top-up online by international credit card or in Tele2 outlets. Check credit by *121#.
Data feature packages
They only sell these one time internet packages for 30 days that can be added to all plans:
|2 GB||590 ₸||*151*2#|
|4 GB||990 ₸||*151*4#|
|8 GB||1390 ₸||*151*8#|
Additionally, there is an option to pay a daily fee of 190 ₸ on the Your Rules plan for unlimited data. Once activated, this option auto-renews every day until deactivated. Activate with *134*1#, deactivate with *134*0#.
These data packages can be purchased for roaming:
|Data (II)||Bonus data (I)||Price||Activation|
|100 MB||+ 200 MB||890 ₸||*341*3*1#|
|500 MB||+ 1 GB||2990 ₸||*341*2*1#|
|1 GB||+ 2 GB||4590 ₸||*341*1*1#|
(I) = Bonus roaming data is awarded when activating and using the package in: Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan
(II) Base data package is provided in the above countries and: Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Jersey, Kyrgyzstan, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the UK, and USA.
In addition, there is a new daily-rate package which offers 100 MB high-speed data and unlimited data at 128k after for 590 ₸ every day data is used. If data is not used, this is not charged. High-speed allowance resets at 23:59 East Kazakh time (UTC+6) each day. It is available in over 70 countries (see list here in Russian). If the daily-rate option is active at the same time as one of the above fixed-volume packages, the daily rate option will only be charged and come into effect upon using up the fixed-volume package. It is automatically activated on new SIMs purchased after 18 December 2019.
Altel (by Kazakhtelecom)
Altel was the 4th operator run by Kazakhtelecom, the privatized incumbent provider. The days of Altel have come to an end in 2017. In 2015 they agreed to a merger with Tele2 and in 2016-8 both networks were united. The new company is a joint venture of Tele2 and Kazakhtelecom giving the better coverage of Tele2 to Altel users and has a market share of about 20%. Altel is maintained as a premium brand for contract subscribers under Tele2.
- APN: internet.tele2.kz
- Website in Kazakh and Russian: http://www.almaty.tele2.kz (for Almaty, other regions change on top right)