Cellular phone usage in Ukraine continues to steadily increase reaching about 32 million active SIMs as of February 2006 with a penetration of 67.2%.
There are five cellular networks in Ukraine. UMC/Ukrainian Mobile Communications is a national operator using the GSM 900/1800 standard. This is the Ukraine's largest cellular network and provides cell broadcast, prepaid cards, roaming, voice mail and SMS in Ukraine.
UMC covers 91% of Ukrainian territory; that is 95% of the population. Kyivstar GSM is another national operator with the GSM 900/1800 standard. Whilst they have less coverage they do tend to be less expensive. Services offered by KyivStar GSM include cell broadcast, prepaid cards, WAP, roaming, voicemail, paging and SMS. WellCom or Ukrainian Radio Systems uses the GSM 900 standard. This operator/network only covers Kyiv and offers fax and data services, roaming and SMS. Golden Telecom covers Kyiv and Odesa with the GSM 1800 standard. Services offered by Golden Telecom are mobile telephony, Internet, data services, prepaid cards. DCC/Astelit LLC operates Life on the GSM 1800 standard.
SMS is a popular cellular service in Ukraine. It is an inexpensive and quick way to send brief messages to friends and family. People around the world are always looking for ways to save money. In response to this various online companies offer free or reduced rate SMS services. You can send free SMS’s from Ukraine to the UK or various other countries. Such companies will usually include an advertisement at the end of your SMS or bill you at a reduced rate.
If your operator makes use of either GSM 900 or GSM 1800 standards you may be able to use your own cellular phone in Ukraine. Check with your provider first. Other ways to keep in contact is to purchase a Ukrainian SIM card or rent a cellular phone.