I have been in Almaty, Kazakhstan, for nearly 3 months now (minus the 3 weeks back in Saigon, Vietnam, for my holidays). As an avid blogger, social network user, and web developer, I am keen to have the best internet possible.
When I first came to Almaty, I was given a Beeline simcard which had 3G. This is probably one of the first simcards that new foreigners get when they arrive into Kazakhstan. They are easy to obtain, you do not need to register with your passport. Unfortunately, this means that Beeline 3G plans can be quite expensive. I remember using most of the money I had in my Beeline account in a couple days just using my 3G. The speeds were good though but I knew some people were paying 5000 Tenge ($35 USD)/month just for 3G with Beeline (Beeline does have some new cheaper plans now).
At home I had ADSL as well provided by my school. It redefined internet speeds for me since it was very, very slow. I gave up using it several nights. As I was leaving for Vietnam, I knew that I would change both my mobile phone and internet providers when I got back to Almaty.
When I returned to Almaty, one of the first things I did was register for Altel 4G. For about 10,000 Tenger ($70 USD), I got a router and 99 gigabytes bandwidth for free (the bandwidth is only free for one month). In a couple days, I will have to pay 4500 Tenge ($30 USD)/month which gives me unlimited 4G (unlimited is a misnomer, you get about 10 gigabyte guaranteed per month – Thanks Askhat for the info.). The speeds have been amazing and even better, I only cover about 500 Tenge of the monthly, cost, my employer covers the rest. I already used half of the free 99 gigabytes. I am curious to see what happens when I exceed 10 gigabytes with my Altel 4G router.
A couple weeks ago, after being fed up with Beeline, a friend and I finally switched to KCell. For 1500 Tenge (10 USD), you can get a new simcard and mobile number. You will need to register with your passport. The staff when then help you set up 3G with various options. For the first month, I decided to do 1 gigabyte unlimited (again unlimited is a misnomer here) per month. There are several more 3G plans then the one listed on the website <http://www.kcell.kz/en/service/622/783>. My plan cost about 1000 Tenge ($7.50 USD)/month. I may increase it to a higher plan since the cost is relatively cheap. I have been connecting my mobile phone to the 4G router at home but I may now keep it on 3G to balance costs. Another benefit, Kcell mobile numbers are easy to remember. 🙂
Currently, I am quite happy with both my Altel 4G and Kcell 3G. I recommend both to people newly arriving into Kazakhstan.
Expect to hear more updates about my internet experience here in Kazakhstan. 🙂