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Communications

Communications in Moscow Moscow has rapidly modernized in the past few years and, with the telecommunications industry one of the biggest areas of growth and investment in the Russian economy, it's getting easier and easier to keep in touch within Russia, and with the outside world.

• POST

The postal service in Russia has been improving over the last few years, but it is not yet up to European standards - it is invariably slow, and there's always the danger that letters (though not parcels as a rule) may be lost. Postage is not expensive, however, and you should be able to buy stamps from your hotel, saving you the effort of having to explain yourself in a Russian post office. If you don't have this option, then your best bet is to try the Central Post Office and Telegraph at 7, Tverskaya Ulitsa.

• EMAIL & INTERNET ACCESS

Email is, of course, the easiest way to keep in touch with your nearest and dearest back home, or the office if you have to. Many hotels offer internet access, as well as connections for laptops in rooms. If you don't have that option, then you may want to use one of the internet cafes mentioned below.

• FAX & PHONES

If you have a landline in your hotel room, then you should have no problem with phoning anywhere in the world. The service may not be cheap, though, so it's worth asking at reception about call costs first.

If you're staying in an apartment, then the chances are you will only be able to make calls from a landline within the city, which are normally free. To call outside the city, you will either need to buy a phonecard - on sale at kiosks in underpasses and metro stations, and in most mobile phone shops. The best-known brands are Zebra telecom and Matrix-Telecom - or use a telegraph office, the two biggest in the city being the Central Telegraph Office (7, Tverskaya Ulitsa), and the House of Communications (22, Ulitsa Noviy Arbat). Here you can either use a card phone, or pay in advance to call from one of the booths monitored by the operator (the second option is the cheapest).

Faxes can be sent from any post office, costing a little less than $2 a sheet. Make sure that you right the full number with correct dialing code. Unfortunately, you won't get any confirmation of sending.

• MOBILES

Most European GSM mobile phones will work in Moscow, check with your network provider at home to see if you are covered. Calls will be expensive, however, and if you are staying in the city for any length of time you may want to buy a Russian SIM-card for your phone.

If you don't hold a Russian passport, you will probably only be able to get a network service that requires you to buy top-up cards, available from the many mobile phone shops all around the city, as well as supermarkets, kiosks etc. The main networks are Megafon, Beeline and MTS, all of whom offer good coverage (in Moscow you can even use your mobile on the metro), and similar prices. Tele2 is the cheapest network, but its coverage can be a little patchy. A SIM-card should cost around $10, and should have some talk time included.

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