Tourist’s Guide to Mobile Phone Services Before Visiting Georgia
Unless you’re planning on visiting Georgia to leave your old life behind as you hike the Caucasus Mountains, odds are one of your priorities is to remain connected. Being able to contact your loved ones as you visit the hottest vacation spots in Georgia is not a privilege, but a need.
Taking this into consideration, setting mobile communications during the length of your stay is an essential step when it comes to planning your travel to Georgia. Regardless of where you’re from, I’m sure your mobile service provider has a plethora of international roaming plans that suit your needs. In fact, you may be tempted to go for it.
Easy, cheap, and simple, right? Wrong!
It may come as a surprise to you, but if you decide to visit Georgia, you’ll soon realize that it’s much more affordable to purchase mobile phone services from a local operator. Mobile communication providers in the country are affordable, high-quality, and offer amazing deals without too many requirements. Similarly, the coverage reaches over 99% of the territory, so you’ll be able to stay connected regardless of where you are or the things you do in Georgia.
Yes, that includes that far-away spot in the middle of the Caucasus, too!
Confused on what to do? Worry not, I’ve got your back. Keep reading as I explain, step by step, all you need to know to stay connected during your dreamy Georgia vacations.
Where can you get a Georgian SIM card?
Lucky you, getting a Georgian SIM card is accessible in every single step, including finding where to purchase one.
If you are traveling to Georgia, odds are you’re arriving from one of two airports: the Tbilisi International Airport, or the David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport. All mobile phone operators have shops in both locations, most of them placed strategically close to international arrivals. Odds are they’re the first stores welcoming you into the country.
But don’t worry if you missed your call—pun intended. It won’t be hard to find mobile phone operator stores in any of the tourist places to visit in Georgia. Conclusion? Rest assured, you should be able to get your SIM card whenever you’re ready for it.
Georgian mobile phone operators: the basics.
Unlike other countries, Georgia has three basic mobile phone operators: Beeline, MagtiCom, and Geocell. But despite the relatively limited offer, telecommunications in the country remain high quality yet still highly affordable.
But beyond costs, mobile communications are accessible to anyone in the country. Keeping in mind the booming Georgia tourism industry, all three companies demand little requirements to acquire a SIM card, making it accessible to any visitor. In general lines, all you need is your passport and the required payment.
When it comes to internet quality, visiting Tbilisi comes with further benefits. As of the publishing date of this article, 4G is guaranteed by all three companies within the capital city, at least.
Sadly, the rest of the country does not have widespread access to 4G. However, you can at least be sure that 3G is available almost everywhere, regardless of the operator you choose for your needs.
Established in 1996, MagtiCom is a telephony services company founded by George Kokhtaberidze. Beyond simple mobile communication, MagtiCom also provides mobile internet (from 2G to 4.5G), cable and wireless fixed telephony services, satellite and internet television, and fiber-optic internet services.
For those of you interested in the technical aspects of MagtiCom’s services, the company’s mobile network encompasses multigenerational technologies—GSM, UMTS, HSPA+, and LTE. It owns over 7,000 base stations across Georgia and covers over 98% of the country’s populated area. Subsequently, it has 40% of the mobile market share and provides services to over three million customers.
But that’s not all. If you’re traveling to Georgia, make sure to keep your eyes wide open during your arrival to the country, as MagtiCom is known for being particularly tourist-friendly.
As previously mentioned, the company has many stands in the country’s main airports. There, they provide free SIM cards for tourists visiting Georgia without conditions. However, don’t be fooled—you still need to purchase packages to make them usable. With the tourist SIM card, you have the option to buy one of two (2) welcoming packages at affordable prices.
The first one, costing 30 lari, provides a free 4.5G SIM-card, free local calls, free local SMS, 3 GB for navigation, and 30 minutes of international calls. The package lasts for 15 days and guarantees communication in any place you visit in Georgia.
The second offer is even more cost-friendly. By providing an additional 15 lari, your free 4.5G SIM-card also gets 5 GB for navigation, and free local SMS for 15 days, enough to last through a good portion of your Georgia travel adventures.
While these plans are designed for tourists visiting Georgia, they are not the only options. If you seek different alternatives, they have a list of bundles and packages available online. Some of the most useful are Unlimited+, providing unlimited navigation and calls across the country for 30 days at the cost of 60 lari, andSimple 6, unlimited call and text services for 6 lari and lasting for a week.
Official website: https://www.magticom.ge/en/ (Available in English).
Hot Line: +995 32 217 00 00 or 11 00 11.
Social Media: Facebook. Twitter. Instagram.
Address of the headquarters: 7 A. Politkovskaya st.
Geocell is the oldest GSM operator working within Georgia. Founded in 1996, it started as a joint Georgian-Turkish investment before eventually evolving into an all-Georgian effort. By 1997, they had released the country’s first GSM network.
Their fast and efficient efforts led them to grow exponentially until, in 2001, they took over one of their competitors in the GSM market. Geocell bought GT Mobile and renamed it Lai-Lai, turning it into its second branch. In 2007, Geocell itself was acquired by the TeliaSonera group, until it was bought in 2018 by Silknet, the largest telecommunication company in the Caucasus.
Geocell’s service includes 2G-2.5G, GPRS, EDGE ; 3G-3.5G HSPA, HSPA+, and 4G LTE. While their 4G services are not available across the country, the company’s coverage expands to over 98% of the country, including some of the most remote places to visit in Georgia. It’s for this reason that it counts with over two million subscribers, and it allows roaming services in over 150 countries.
When it comes to package deals, Geocell also provides generous offers to tourists seeking to travel to Georgia. The company’s “Tourist Pack” is all-inclusive and includes the SIM card, unlimited minutes & SMS to Georgian numbers, 30 minutes of international calls, and 3 GB of mobile navigation, all for the cost of 20 GEL and lasting through 15 days.
If you still have many things to do in Georgia and need to extend your trip, you can refill your balance or replenish your account without further ado. Similarly, if you require a different type of deal, Geocell provides different packages suited for lengthier stays or a different type of consumer.
Other options include Tariff Globus, which allows for different plans and costs for international calls according to country, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, amongst others. No travel to Georgia is identical, so make sure to select the mobile plan that suits your specific requirements the best.
For further information, feel free to check Geocell’s official list of tariffs.
Official website: https://geocell.ge/en/ (Available in English).
Hot Line: 7777 (for Geocell and Lai Lai users), 110 110 (for any mobile network operator), and 2770177 (for any phone operator).
Written contact: Online chat available.
Social Media: Facebook.
Address of the headquarters: #3 Gotua Str., Right Riverside of Mtkvari Tbilisi.
Third in popularity across the country, Beeline is a company with origins in Russia that has established itself as an essential mobile service provider, and a fantastic alternative for tourists traveling to Georgia.
The brand Beeline started as Bee Line GSM in Russia, a brand owned by PJSC VimpelCom. From then on, the company went through a lengthy journey—in 2009, it became a subsidiary of VimpelCom Ltd, and in 2017 it transformed into Veon, as it is known nowadays. Through all these transformations, it kept the commercial name of Beeline.
While the company began providing commercial services in its homeland by 1993, it wasn’t until 2007 that it made the first mobile call within Georgian territory. Despite being the youngest mobile phone service provider, Beeline already counts with over 1.3 million customers, and its reach extends to approximately 90% of the country.
When it comes to technical aspects, Beeline provides 2G GSM 900/1,800 Mhz, 3G 2,100 MHz, and 4G 800 Mhz. According to their website, their 4G network is established across 30 cities and keeps growing steadily.
To acquire your Beeline SIM card, you can purchase them in the airport shops, but also across the Georgian Post Service centers if you cannot do it upon your arrival to the country. For tourists traveling to Georgia, the only requirement for the purchase is the passport.
When it comes to deals, you may get lucky and come across Beeline’s Tourist Price—it provides 2 GB of internet navigation, unlimited local calls and SMS, and 50 minutes of international calls. The package costs 20 GEL and is valid for 15 days—enough to visit most Georgian attractions without losing touch with your loved ones.
If you prefer to avoid tourist deals and would rather enjoy mobile services like a local, Beeline has four main packages that you can check in their website, all of which provide monthly deals.
Likewise, if the internet is your priority above anything else, make sure to check their internet packages—you can get up to 30 GB across 30 days for only 25 GEL and, if you’re particularly cybernetic, you can get unlimited data for 1 GEL/hour.
Official website: https://beeline.ge/en (Available in English).
Hot Line: 110101 or +995 32 2200611
Written contact: Online chat available.
Social Media: Facebook. Twitter. Instagram.
Address of the headquarters: 0162, Tbilisi, Vake-Saburtalo District, I. Chavchavadze Ave. 56.
So, which Georgian mobile phone operator should you choose?
The truth is that, with only three companies available countrywide, you don’t have many options to debate.
Despite this small market, each of the three options provides a quality service with its distinctive conditions, so if you travel to Georgia, be sure to choose one according to your particular needs.
If you plan to stay most of your time within old Tbilisi and its adjacent areas during your visit to Georgia, then you don’t really need to worry about coverage. Your focus should be on costs, and in that regard, Beeline might be the best choice. The company provides affordable packages and incredible data deals for those who need a fast, reliable, and big internet deal for cheap.
However, if you are an adventurous soul that wishes to explore every mountain and hiking trail, you should pay more attention to coverage and signal. In that case, Beeline poses certain disadvantages as it doesn’t cover as much area as the other two companies do. Subsequently, to enjoy your travel to Georgia’s countryside, MagtiCom and Geocell might be wiser choices.
Regardless, the differences between these three companies are rather minimal, so you should enjoy a quality service regardless of your choice.
Bottom line? Ditch roaming during your visit to Georgia and get a local SIM card—it’s fast, efficient, and incredibly simple!