Mobile phone service in the Czech Republic


Mobile phone service in the Czech Republic is reliable and easy to use.  There are three mobile phone service providers in the Czech Republic: O2, Vodafone, and T-Mobile.  Each offers about the same services and prices.  I used T-Mobile because the Czech T-Mobile SIM cards work in my US T-Mobile phone, but I recently switched to O2 because they have a great prepaid Internet service for just 50 CZK/week.


Getting Started

If you are bringing your phone from the US make sure it is a GSM* phone and tri-band/quad-band.  Then all you need to do when you get to Czech is buy a prepaid SIM card (500 CZK), activate your phone (directions provided in English), and you are ready to make your first call.  The three providers have stores selling SIM cards, phones and other services all over Prague.  You will have trouble no trouble seeing one every time you wander around the city.


If you do not bring a phone from the US, cheap phones can be bought second hand at electronics shops throughout the city.  These stores are as abundant as the three providers’ locations, and almost everyone in Prague can give you directions to their favorite.  Used phones range in price from 1,000 CZK to 5,000 CZK, but there is no guarantee they will work after you leave the store.


Why Use Prepaid?

Here in the US you probably have noticed prepaid cellular service has not really caught on.  However, in Czech it was originally the only type of service widely available, and therefore extremely easy to use.  To use it you buy a SIM card for 500 CZK that has 300 CZK of prepaid credits.  When those credits are used up you buy a recharge card available at most newsstands and other shops throughout the city for 400 CZK.  Each recharge card gives you 400 CZK of additional credits to use.  There are other ways to add credits to your phone, including at some banks, on the Internet, and at some ATM machines.


Potential Problems (or why I bought 5 SIM cards before making my first call)

So the whole process sounds easy enough, right?  Well, here are some issues you might have to deal with.

  1. Your phone may not be a tri-band or quad-band phone.  In the US we use a 1900 MHz network; in Czech they use a 900/1800 MHz network.  Your owner’s manual or local cellular company or cell phone dealer can tell you if your phone is a dual-band or tri-band phone.
  2. If you got your phone for free or at a reduced price when you signed up for your cellular service in the US, it probably has a SIM lock, meaning it won’t work with other providers’ SIM cards.  This problem is not so easy to overcome, unless you have T-Mobile service.  After being a T-Mobile customer for three months, they will provide you with the code you need to unlock your phone.  If you bought your phone separate from your provider (i.e. you paid retail), it is most likely unlocked and will work with any SIM card.  If you buy a phone in Prague, make sure it is not locked to a sole-provider’s SIM cards by testing it with your SIM card before you complete the purchase.
  3. After installing your Czech SIM card, your phone might not automatically detect the network.  On my Samsung phone it automatically switched to the 900/1800 network, on my Motorola phone I had to manually go into the phone settings and change the network frequency.


T - Mobile



Twist Prepaid




O2 Prepaid





Vodafone Prepaid


* Global System for Mobile Communications. Digital cell phone system used throughout Europe based on TDMA. Introduced SIM card and short messaging (SMS).  In the USA this standard is used by AT&T and T-Mobile, but not Verizon and Sprint which use CDMA.