Moldova has three mobile operators:
- Moldtelecom (Unité) (only on 3G/4G)
2G GSM is on 900 MHz on Orange and Moldcell, while Unité uses CDMA for it, which is not compatible. 3G is on all three networks on 2100 MHz in up to HSPA+ speed and 4G/LTE has started on Orange and Moldcell in 2012 on 2600 MHz (B7) and Unité in 2015 on 1800 MHz (B3) and is available in major city centres.
Each operator offers its own prepaid cards, that can be purchased easily, without providing any identification documents.
The special situation in the breakaway state of Transnistria is highlighted at the end of the article where the only operator Interdnestrcom (IDC) is shown in detail. The upper section of this article is about the government-controlled part of Moldova and does not apply to Transnistria.
Orange is the oldest operator and market leader in Moldova with about 61% of all mobile customers on its network in 2017. It covers 99% of population with 2G and 89% with 3G: Coverage map. 4G/LTE started in 2012; however, is no longer available for prepaid.
Orange has the best network in the country, but some users claim that speed is depriorized for prepaid.
Their prepaid card is called Orange PrePay. It is sold at their stores: Store locator for MDL 50 with the same credit. The SIM is valid active for 4 months and passive for 8 months without a recharge. As a promotion 500 domestic minutes and 5 GB are given out per month for new users for a year when you dial *888*0# and top up at least MDL 60.
Recharge cards of MDL 30, 50, 60, 100 and 200 are available too. Recharge by typing *144*<PIN code># or online. Top ups of less than MDL 50 are valid for 1 month, of more than MDL 50 for 3 months.
When entering Moldova via Chisinau Airport (KIV) you can ask around if free SIM card packs are available. In 2015, they were giving out free Orange SIM cards to foreign travellers. These had to be activated in an Orange store in the city, but included some data and calls for free. There was no obligation to buy anything else from Orange or pay any fees at all to get the card activated.
Data feature packs
Standard rate outside of packages is MDL 3 per MB. These tariffs can be booked on the PrePay cards:
|1 day||1 GB (*)||MDL 10|
|7 days||2 GB||MDL 25|
|7 days||20 GB||MDL 150||unlimited voice|
|15 days||1 GB||MDL 50||unlimited voice|
|30 days||500 MB||MDL 40||60 mins/SMS|
|30 days||1 GB||MDL 60||100 mins/SMS|
To activate enter *100#.
(*) = The daily pack is doubled in size to 2 GB if bought through My Orange.
For modems and tablets, they offer a data-only SIM called "Internet Acum PrePay" which is on 4G/LTE too. The starter pack comes as SIM-only for MDL 50 with 3 GB valid for 30 days. Default rate is low MDL 0.10 per MB. Speed is up to 150 Mbps on 4G and 42 Mbps on 3G.
There is only one top-up of MDL 50 for another 3 GB valid for 30 days.
Two international roaming bundles are available:
- MDL 70 : 500 MB in Romania and Ukraine valid for 30 days.
- MDL 60 : 100 MB in 30 countries (check here) valid for 30 days
Activate by dialing *100#.
- APN for PrePay Cards: wap.orange.md
- APN for Internet Acum PrePay: internet
- Website in Romanian and Russian: http://www.orange.md
Moldcell, owned by Nepalese CG Corp Global, is the second operator in the country with a 28% market share and a fairly good coverage: Coverage map. 4G/LTE has been opened for prepaid, and eSIM activation is possible.
Prepaid SIM card is called Cartelă Moldcell, costs MDL 50 and comes with MDL 50 credit in their stores Store locator and outlets. The SIM card is valid for 4 months and another 4 months incoming only without a recharge. It comes with 120 domestic minutes and 4 GB data valid for 15 days.
Top-up vouchers are sold in many shops for MDL 50, 100 or 200. Check balance by *444#. You can change language settings to Russian or to English by *222*7#. When you to-up at least MDL 50, the validity date of the account will be extended by 4 months from date of recharge.
Default tariff is MDL 3.50 /MB up to 10 MB, MDL 3 /MB 17-70 MB, MDL 2.50 /MB 71-100 MB and MDL 0.50 /MB for more than 100 MB per day.
By *223*1*3# you can activate a discounted daily tariff at MDL 0.10 per MB for a MDL 1 per day fee. To deactivate text 2 to 2223, to check status 3 to 2223.
Data feature packages
Their data plans on 3G and 4G are called Pachete Internet:
|1 day||500 MB||MDL 10|
|7 days||1 GB||MDL 25|
|30 days||250 MB||MDL 20|
|1 GB||MDL 50|
|3 GB||MDL 90|
|5 GB||MDL 100|
|10 GB||MDL 140|
|20 GB||MDL 200|
Dial *202# to activate. All packages auto-renew. To cancel a service, text 1 to 5678 (in case of the 10 GB text 0 to 5678). Check remaining balance: *444#, then option 1, 1. Even if a data package is activated, you need to have a positive balance on the SIM card for the data connection to work. Overuse fee is MDL 0.50 per MB.
You can add social media not to be debited from your account by *222*1*2# for MDL 15 per month. Facebook, Odnokassniki, Twitter and VKontakte are included.
In 2018 Moldcell issued "Internet ca lumea" with an option of 4 GB for MDL 50 on an own starter pack for SMS and data only, no voice. The validity period of the card is for 4 months for surfing the Internet and receiving SMS; plus another 8 months only receiving SMS. Data speed is up to 4G/LTE and 150 Mbit/s.
The 4 GB package will be provided when the allowance has been depleted or 30 days have expired and if the amount available in the account is at least MDL 50. It does not require activation and can be assigned multiple times a month. If there is not enough credit in your account to allocate the extra package, internet traffic fee will be MDL 0.10 per MB.
- APN: internet
- Website in Romanian and Russian: http://www.moldcell.md
Moldtelecom (formerly Unité)
Moldtelecom (formerly Unité) has been the 3rd operator in Moldova run by former state-owned Moldtelecom. They started a CDMA network which was not compatible with GSM devices, nowadays they run a 3G/4G network, without a fallback to 2G. Better make a network scan before buying or check their coverage. In 2015 it has started 4G/LTE on 1800 MHz (B3), open to prepaid users and has to be activated by *500#.
Don't buy their "Connect" cards on incompatible CDMA standard with speeds up to 2.4 Mbit/s, but their 3G HSPA+ brand called "Cartela Unité Prepay".
It's for MDL 30 and comes with 5 GB, 100 domestic minutes, unlimited on-net calls and unlimited Wikipedia for 30 days. It'sold in post offices, at Lukoil or Petrom service stations and kiosks.
To top-up, use vouchers available for 25, 50 and MDL 100 sold at the same places. Check balance by *200#.
Moldtelecom/Unité gives heavy bonuses for recharges, all valid for one month:
|MDL 25 to 49||3 GB||200 mins||200 mins||30 days|
|MDL 50 to 99||6 GB||600 mins||600 mins||60 days|
|> MDL 100||12 GB||1000 mins||1000 mins||90 days|
Data feature packs
Default data rate is MDL 0.10 per MB. Their card can be loaded with following data packages:
|24 hours||1 GB||MDL 10|
|7 days||1 GB||MDL 20|
|3 GB||MDL 30|
|5 GB||MDL 50|
|30 days||1 GB||MDL 25|
|3 GB||MDL 40|
|5 GB||MDL 60|
|10 GB||MDL 100|
|20 GB||MDL 150|
To activate type *200# and choose package. The option can be activated any day, several times a month.
For international roaming they offer two packages:
- for Romania: 500 MB for 30 days: MDL 70
- for Austria, Belgium, Czech Rep., Croatia, Switzerland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, UK, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine: 250 MB for 30 days: MDL 75
Activation is through *200#.
- APN: internet3g.unite.md /or/ internet.unite.md
- Website in Romanian and Russian: http://www.unite.md
Transnistria (Russian: Приднестровье or Pridnestrovie), is an unrecognised breakaway state on the eastern border with Ukraine. It's seen by Moldova as the "Autonomous territorial unit with special legal status Stinga Nistrului" and is governed as "Приднестровская Молдавская Республика" (ПМР), or the "Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic" (PMR) in English. The region is sometimes known as Trans-Dniester or Transdniestria in English.
To buy a prepaid SIM card you have to show a passport in one of the IDC stores (locations) and pay in Transnistrian rubles (Russian: Приднестровские рубли).
Transnistria has its own state-owned provider called Interdnestrcom (IDC) and Moldovian operators don't cover most of this region. Previously IDC had GSM-incompatible CDMA standard in 2G and used EVDO in 3G, but 4G/LTE started on 800 MHz (B20) in major areas which is compatible with most GSM devices too. IDC has run a dual CDMA 3G and LTE 4G network.
IDC has announced that it would switch off its cellular 450 MHz CDMA network on 1 September 2020 and encouraged all users to switch to LTE instead. IDC launched VoLTE services to enable voice services. It now owns more than 120 LTE base stations offering 4G/LTE services to more than 90% of the region’s area.
Some users have remarked that as Transnistria is such a narrow territory, that anyone visiting is almost certainly going to be able to pick up the GSM network signal from Moldova or Ukraine anyway. If your device is already locked on to a network from either of those countries it's highly unlikely the signal will fade. While there is border coverage, the area is almost 4,000 km² without its own GSM antennas. Travellers will only face a temporary outages.
If you use a non-CDMA device with 4G/LTE you need to have it configured in one of their stores. Be aware that there is no voice on most devices, except of a few VoLTE capable handsets. The inital cost of a simple starter kit is 56 rub, sold at their outlets (list). You should bring a passport. Their SIM card is valid for 90 days. You can extend validity for 3 rub per month.
You can activate these 4G monthly data packs:
|# 2||1 GB||25 rub||*888*3211#|
|# 5||3 GB||55 rub||*888*3221#|
|# 8||6 GB||85 rub||*888*3231#|
|# 10||9 GB||120 rub||*888*3241#|
- They also offer a 24 hours pack at 10 rub with 1 GB, activated online.
To check remaining data, dial 868. All these packages above are valid for 1 month.
International roaming is now available, but needs to be activated for $3 and paid in US$.
- more info in Russian: http://www.idknet.com