More campaigns than Napoleon – Phones and Internet in Turkey

The whole phone/internet/data package for your mobile can get a bit confusing here, not helped by the fact that the big communication companies have more special offer campaigns going than you can shake a stick at – when I last looked there were 19 different price packages available just for your home phone. It’s a Turkish thing, trying to please everyone, confusing most as a result!

However, after a while clarity does eventually emerge out of the mists of multiple tariffs and confusing offers and prices do seem more reasonable these days than they were a few years ago.

I generally work on the basis of if it isn’t broken I don’t fix it and so I tend not to swop tariffs too often, I prefer to know what I am paying and stick with it even though there may be better offers out there, my connectivity to the wider world is too precious a thing to be buggered around with. As a result I stick to Turkcell for my mobile, TTnet for my internet connection and TurkTelecom for my landline and to be fair they’ve all worked well for the last six years and when I have had a problem it’s been fixed quickly, even that time when the phone lines got shot out during a village party!

It works something like this:-

I have a bog standard landline and it normally costs me around 35tl a month, most calls are to international numbers and I never use it locally. I probably speak overseas for about an hour and a half a month.

My internet, which I have just changed to a new tariff, costs me 39.90tl a month for unlimited 8mg ADSL. I’m averaging around 6mg download speed and according to the contract I will get throttled back to 1mg if I go over the fair usage limit of 50gig a month download which seems fair enough. This 39.90 is a special discounted price and will rise to 55tl after a year and is as a result of a campaign which finished two days ago, no doubt it will be replaced with a similar one, as is traditional. But expect to pay around 45-60tl a month for unlimited high speed internet.

16mg download speed is available, there are various usage bands with different prices, I don’t know where it’s available or anyone who has it. I’d have to phone a different call centre to find out if it was available in my area, it may be as we have fibreoptics, but I couldn’t be bothered 🙂

My mobile phone is a pay as you go standard tariff one because I don’t use it very often, the only thing I do use is the data package because I’ve just switched from an elderly Nokia to a Samsung Galaxy. I have a 250meg a month data package which costs 7tl for the first three months, rising to 14tl a month after that. So far I am nowhere near my download limit.

Nick, because he texts a lot, has a different package on his mobile, he pays 3tl a month for 100 SMS under the cheerfully titled SMS Yaz offer and gets 20meg a month data for 3tl under the Merheba Yaz offer.

Two phones, three special offers and that’s just scratching the surface. There are millions of these special offers, often available as add-ons and additions and they change every few weeks so a poke around the Turkcell website or a phone call to their English speaking operators is normally quite useful.

If you wanted an all in one contract for your mobile Turkcell are offering something like 600 minutes talktime, 300 sms and 250mg data for 29tl a month at the moment.

Registering a Foreign Phone in Turkey

Whilst on the subject of mobile phones, I bought two new Samsungs in the UK when I was there in January, the price was really good and our Turkish phones were getting old and these came unlocked so I decided to get them and register them here. Normal wisdom says you can’t register a foreign phone in Turkey if you have been in the country longer than a month, well I didn’t get round to registering these for two months on the basis of doing other things and forgot and it was only when Nick’s Turkish mobile packed up we finally got round to registering them.

If you take your foreign bought phone to Turkcell within a month of arrival it can be registered for general use in Turkey, in other words it is open to all networks here and you can switch networks and change numbers at will. If you register it after a month in the country you are locked to one network and the SIM card you put in it on day one. This is what we did and it was fine by me as I am happy to stick with Turkcell.

As a foreign resident you can bring one foreign registered phone into the country every two years and get it’s IMEI re-registered in Turkey. You have to do this if you intend to use it long term with a Turkish SIM card in it, if you don’t register it then it will shut down in about 3-4 weeks.

If you have a foreign phone with a foreign SIM card in it you don’t need to register it, it will just keep on operating on hideous roaming charges!

Registering takes only a few minutes and is automatic these days with the IMEI number of the phone being added to the government database of “good” phones as a matter of course.

If you have an old Turkish mobile with an elderly SIM card in it then it may be worth upgrading your SIM card if you are bringing in a smart phone as the old SIM cards can’t cope and the phone tries to work but shuts down in exhaustion after a few hours.

From experience with the phone shops in the tourist areas and the confusion that often arises from attempts to get anything from them we tend to use the phone shops in the big towns or do everything over the phone. The Turkcell shop in Forum Bornova in Izmir (opposite Kipa) is really good, the staff are clued up and helpful and we got our new phones registered there for 10tl each and advice on the best package to go for so as not to be clobbered by the data transfer charges which are still relatively new here and going through their initial growth spurt. Can’t recommend them enough really, well worth the trip up to avoid the stress of dealing with someone uncooperative elsewhere.

A few useful numbers:-

Turkcell, TTnet and TurkTelecom all have English speaking operators, some are brilliant, some are okay, it’s the luck of the draw. They also have English sections on their websites but these are poor and if you use the Turkish version the translate function on Google doesn’t work too well, especially with so much flash on the sites. Generally ringing is more useful but you will need to be patient with some of the operators and it may be worth just ringing back to get another operator if you get a bit lost.

Turkcell – 444 0532 and press 77 for English (from abroad dial 00 90 212 444 0532)

TTnet – 4440 0375 and press 99 for English (from abroad dial 00 90 212 444 0375)

TurkTelecom – 444 1 444 can’t remember what to press for English as it is years since I called them!

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