Practical Life in Helsinki

Mobile Phone in Helsinki

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Matkapuhelin, Kännykkä, Känny

It is only natural in the land of Nokia that people use mobile phones for EVERYTHING; text messaging and paying bills is just the beginning.  So you really need a mobile phone in Helsinki. Fortunately, there is no "set-up fee" for a mobile phone in Finland so this can be the cheapest way to get started. However, you may have to make an advance payment, and you will also have to buy a phone! Be sure to get an unlocked tri-band or quad-band phone. If you can afford a phone with 3-G superfast data transmission, go for it!

Online auction sites such as uBid ( offer phones with warranties for all budgets. Mobile service (GSM) operators also sell telephones; you may be able to buy a decent second-hand model for a very low price, or a new phone from about € 70 upwards depending on features. Telephones are not generally included with your subscription in Finland . If you or a friend speak Finnish, try ( if you're looking for a second-hand phone. is the Finnish equivalent of EBay, and very handy for buying anything second-hand!)

If you are a foreigner without an established credit history in Finland you will probably be required to pay an advance payment to open a mobile phone line. This can be substantial (perhaps € 500). However, if you pay your bills on time, the amount is fully refundable when a) you cancel the service, or b) the "trial period" of up to 2 years is over, whichever comes first.. Mobiles are a reasonably cheap way of communicating, particularly if you use text messages (SMS) rather than actually calling. SMS, local call and international call rates vary significantly between operators. Shop around for the best deal. Special promotions are becoming more common as competition increases.

Finnish Mobile Telephone Networks / Operators

Operator Web Site Phone Enquiries
Sonera Finnish only (0) 20401
DNA Finnish/English/Swedish 044 0440
Elisa Finnish/English/Swedish 0800 950 50
Cubio Finnish/English/Russian   (09) 689677
Globetel Finnish/English/Swedish (09) 228 9100
Welho Finnish/English/Swedish (09) 156 5656
Saunalahti Finnish only (09) 4243 0400
Tele Finland    Finnish only 0800 144 844

Prepaid Mobile Services in Finland

You can also obtain a prepaid phone card in Finland through operators such as Radiolinja, Sonera and DNA. Starting packages normally cost around € 50 and include € 40 worth of airtime,  and are available through outlets such as R-Kioski. Simply buy a package, install the included SIM card in your mobile phone, key in the PIN and PUK codes provided and start making calls. Your new phone number is included with the package. You will be alerted when your airtime is running out, and then "recharge" the subscription with a voucher from a prepaid dealer. You can also reload airtime from the Internet.

Prepaid packages generally include text messaging, voicemail and other features. They can be a very attractive way to get started with a mobile phone service; the downside is that the charge per minute is comparatively high and you are unable to make international calls directly, although you can do so with a prepaid card or a calling card (see section on telephones above).

International calls

International Mobile Calls from Finland

Regardless of the operator you subscribe to for your regular service, you can choose which operator you would like to handle individual international phone calls. Operators' rates per minute vary dramatically. Not only that but one operator may have cheap rates to one country while their rates to another country are comparatively high. Please note that you have to add the local network charge to the prices given on the Web pages. Sometimes the prices are given without the 22% tax.

To call with a different operator: Normally when making an international call from a mobile phone you key the + sign first; this simply specifies that the call will be placed through your regular operator. Instead, key in the prefix of the operator you want to handle the call.  Some operators require you to register, so check first. Then dial the country code, the area code and the actual phone number as usual. Ex: 999 (Elisa prefix) 61 (country code) 2 (area code) 9234 5678 (number)

Operator codes:
991 (Saunalahti), 990 (Sonera), 999 (Elisa)

International Mobile Calls from Abroad

When traveling abroad with your contract or prepaid mobile, Return Call Service (also known as Call Back service) from Telestial (which also sells mobile handsets) helps you save money on outgoing long distance phone calls.  The service takes advantage of the fact that most wireless phone carriers around the world charge high airtime rates to make outgoing international phone calls from your cell phone, but almost always offer free or cheap incoming call rates. With the Return Call service, you will be provided with a list of their local "Trigger Numbers" for every country around the world. When you are in your destination country, you can use your cell phone (with Local SIM card) to call the trigger number. A computer at the Return Call service center will answer, and then you will simply hang up. A few moments later you will receive an incoming call from the Return Call Service and be prompted to enter the long distance phone number that you would like to call.

Useful Addresses

Expat Finland

Telestial Return Call Service
Customer Support:  1-703-533-2122 or by calling 1-800-705-5033 (USA only)

Related article: Landline phone in Finland

Update 21/05/2008


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