TURKCELL mobile phones

Since a week we are in TURKEY (MAY 2015) and in an old tradition, we bought a local SIM card. But in TURKEY the things are much more difficult than in other countries. When I first researched it I did not believe this stuff – but its true.

Here are our conclusions and hints – if you like them I’m happy!

1) If you use a local (TURKEY) SIM card in your foreign phone it will be disabled after a certain period by the provider as this is a local TURKISH law. In old internet reports the people said it is a question of days (5-7), some few newer reports said, after 60 days the foreign device (phone) will be disabled. We use our foreign phone now since 12 days and its still working and we believe the 60 days period is true. Of course this disable stuff is limited to the TURKISH cell phone networks only.

1.1) Background
All TURKISH providers knew the IMEI number (worlwide unique hardware identifier) of all devices which where sold on the TURKISH market. If you bring your foreign device into the country, they detect it as „foreign“ (not bought in TURKEY) and have to disable it after a certain period. Official story is to protect the local market from cheap illegal mobile phone imports.

1.2) You can register your own (foreign) phone in this list. But you have to go to a government TAX office, pay some money there and than to a phone shop to put the IMEI number on the list – with some money more.

2) Buy at least a local SIM card at the airport as the staff in the stores in the country did not speak English.

3) After some research we choose TURKCEL as provider and bought a prepaid SIM card for 52 TURKISH LIRA (TL) which includes 100 MB internet, 400 minutes phone calls and 400 text messages (SMS) both inside TURKEY only.
Than we put a 4 GB internet update on it which costs 40 TL as the inital 100 MB is a joke.
**BUT** all this is only valid for 30 days – after 30 days all your credit (internet usage, minutes, SMS) is gone – except the money you may put on top of it. We put 50 TL on top of it so we can book the next 4 GB internet package after 30 days by sending this textmessage (SMS) to TURKCEL:

—– SNIP / SNAP ——
SINIRSIZ4GB to number 2222
—– SNIP / SNAP ——

3.1) You can also buy top-up voucher in advance so you do not need to visit a TURKCEL shop after 30 days. Its a simple plastic card with a hidden number on it. To load the voucher to your account use

—– SNIP / SNAP —–
—– SNIP / SNAP —–

4) All this above works fine with your foreign phone and a local SIM card. But we had a big problem using the smartphone as internet hot spot for other devices (e.g. tablett, pc). For me it looks that TURKCEL blocks the access in combination foreign phone / local sim in the TETHERING mode. The guys in the shop denied it but there is defiantly a technical „break“. The DNS server e.g. works in the first minute of connection, but than it comes to a time out which looks for me like a piece of software at the TURKCEL side to make the hot spot connection un-useable.

5) Today we went to 4 (!) TURKCEL shops to find out whats right and whats wrong about the hot spot function. Beside the language problem we did not manage it to make the hot spot working.

6) So we ended up in buying a local smart phone and a new local SIM card for it – and this works from the very first minute without any issues.

7) As a summary:

7.1) If you add a local SIM in your own (foreign phone) it will work – but not forever. I did not find any offical statement for the period, but I believe its 60 days.

7.2) If you use the (7.1) combination you might get trouble in running the hot spot mode to give other devices internet.

7.3) Do everything at the airport as it will be difficult to get English language staff in the country (may its different at the coast as there are many tourists).

So thats it,


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