Learn about the best sim card options in Georgia – choose the right mobile/cell phone provider for your stay in Tbilisi & Georgia.
If you’re anything like me, getting a decent SIM card with a data plan is probably among your top priorities when moving to a new country.
Luckily, Tbilisi makes this process both easy and cheap. SIM cards with generous data allowances are readily available and will take you mere minutes to get.
But it helps to know the market a bit to be able to make an informed decision.
The Big Three
Silknet and Magti are the larger two companies with, according to KPMG, just shy of 1.8 million subscribers for Magti and 1.6 for Geocell, with Beeline jogging behind with some 1.1 million.
So how do we choose between the three?
With over 98% of the populated territory in Georgia having mobile coverage, the reach of any given network won’t be a concern. That’s especially true if you live in Tbilisi, where all three options will give you 4G coverage in all corners of the city.
Note that Magti numbers do seem to get more SMS spam than Geocell and Beeline, but you can opt out by calling *182#.
Ask the locals, and they’ll tell you their choice depends mostly on which network their friends and family use. And that makes sense. Most, if not all of the operators, allow free or very cheap calls within the bounds of the same network. So if you have any friends that you’ll be calling or texting a lot, consider signing up with the same operator. (However, most of the expats reading this, I’m guessing, won’t have local friends or family who they’ll be spending hours on the phone with, so they should focus on other considerations.) Which brings us to pricing.
The Price Comparison
The first thing to note (and to try to avoid) is tourist packages.
All three operators have these, and while they’re often great deals, it’s worth noting that most of these SIM cards expire in anywhere from a week to a month, so they don’t work for someone relocating here long-term.
But even with the tourist packages out of the way, you’ll still have plenty of options. Everyone’s needs will be different, but for this article, I’m going to assume that you’ll want some local minutes & text, around 5 GB in monthly data allowance, and a SIM-only package. I will also assume that you prefer to pay monthly, rather than weekly, if it means a better price.
With these requirements, here’s where we stand:
As you can see, the prices don’t differ a whole lot and are, universally, very affordable.
Personally, I’m with Geocell, simply because that’s the first shop that I came across. However, my wife Elora uses Magti, and she’s equally happy.
Ultimately, it will come down to your preference and how you can make the packages suit your needs.
International Calls & Roaming
International pricing is an area where the offerings of these three operators differ a great deal.
Calls to the US, for instance, cost GEL 0.70 a minute at Geocell, GEL 0.35 at Magti, and 0.05 GEL at Beeline – a HUGE difference.
But is Beeline really the best option for international calls? Not necessarily, as the cost also depends on which country you are calling to, as different countries have different prices.
And to make matters even more complicated, there are also “package deals” that one can purchase. Geocell’s “International discount” package, for instance, allows me to make calls to any international destination for 39 tetri per minute. The package costs 2 GEL per month itself.
If that’s not enough, things get even more complicated with roaming. The roaming prices, especially those of data roaming, are all over the place. There are lots of packages to choose between, and a lot will depend on where you’ll roam, for how long, and how much data you will need.
With that in mind, my best suggestion for those who are planning to use roaming a lot is to check out the websites of the operators and compare the available packages.
But for the rest of you, I hope this write-up gives you a better idea of what to consider when choosing an operator, in order to find the option that’s best for you.
As for mobile internet speed and coverage, Georgia is still on 4G, though implementation of next-generation 5G has been in process since early 2020. Silknet has acquired Geocell, a very popular and capable mobile provider that has a strong presence in the mobile market as well.
Magti started out as a mobile network provider before moving into the TV and home internet business (read more about home internet options in Georgia here), thus they also have very capable mobile coverage with “4.5G”.
Beeline could get an honorary mention, as they only provide mobile internet access, though their coverage range is much smaller than the other two companies.
Now that home internet packages have been dissected and analyzed, what about mobile internet coverage, speeds, and prices? Beeline is known to be the cheapest option available on the market, especially if you use their app, by which you can get exclusive app offers like 10 GB for 5 GEL! Magti would cost you 24 GEL (2x 5GB bundles for 12 GEL each) and Silknet-Geocell would cost 15 GEL for only 8 GB of data.
However, Beeline’s massive downside is its coverage, which is a lot smaller than their competitors, especially in rural areas. If you will travel frequently outside of major urban areas, or live outside the main cities, then Beeline is typically a bad choice for coverage. Paying a little extra for Magti or Silknet is a must if you don’t intend to stay city-bound.
One particular option to compare these 3 companies would be the unlimited data packages they offer. Beeline is 1 GEL for 3 hours, Silknet’s Geocell is 3 GEL for 1 day and Magticom is 1 GEL for 1 day, with an option to get 1 week for 5 GEL (which is an unlimited 4.5G network for 20 GEL per month with speeds over 100Mbps!) Ultimately, the final choice comes down to your internet needs and how much you are using on average.
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