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Communications for Expats in Spain

Submitted: July 2013

When moving to a new country, it is important to research the telephone companies’ plans which are being offered so as to be able to select the one which best suits you. In Spain, mobile communication is reliable in general and coverage is excellent as people prefer mobile to landline phones. You should try to determine beforehand what you will need your cell phone for and which services you will need.

Like many other countries in the world, most Spanish telephone companies use the GSM system to provide mobile phone users with cellular compatibility. This means that most likely, you can travel to Spain without having to worry about getting a new cell phone. All you will need to do is purchase a Spanish SIM card (prepaid or post-paid) which cost about €10 and usually comes with calling credit, so as to escape high roaming rates. To purchase SIM cards however, identification or proof of address may be required to comply with the Spanish anti-terrorism laws.  Notably, phones purchased in some countries on networks (UK and North America CDMA system being examples) may be locked to their home network and will not work with SIM cards from other networks; these phones however can be unlocked in Spain to operate on any network for a fee which is usually considerably less that getting a new phone.

Some of Spain’s more popular mobile phone providers include Movistar (in Spanish), Vodafone, MásMóvil and Orange (in Spanish), with each offering different services, rates and phones. If you want to enjoy multimedia services such as mobile TV or internet, some of these providers, such as Orange and Vodafone, offer fourth-generation (4G) services, making these features possible. Notably, if during your visit you plan to make mostly international calls, LlamaYa might be an interesting provider as they offer relatively cheap international calls as well as reasonable local rates. Additionally, the following link may prove useful in providing pros and cons of major networks when considers their international calling services. - https://gospain.about.com/od/spanishlife/qt/phoninghome.htm

If you do not use your phone much, opting for pay-as-you-go may be your ideal option as you will only for what you use.

If you are interested in landline telephone service, numerous providers are now available in Spain. Movistar Telefónica, a once government owned monopoly, still dominates approximately 90% of the market. As a non-resident, you will be required to pay an installation fee (€110 + vat) with installation carried out within 2 weeks thereafter, or even a day depending on existing lines. More information can be found at - https://www.telefonica.com.

Internet services are accessible in Spain ranging from Dial-up Internet access to ADSL and cable broadband or even WiMax or Satellite Broadband. In 2011, the Spanish Industry Ministry promised Broadband as a right to everyone in Spain, this is being made available through Telefónica with at least 1 megabyte in part of the country. In addition to Telefónica, other providers include Orange Vodafone and Ono, among others. The main Internet providers in Spain include Movistar (Telefónica), Orange, Vodafone, among others, with Internet access being made available once a telephone line is installed. If you are going to take Internet as an option, you may expect to pay around €35 monthly for unlimited access. The following website may be useful in providing information about providers and available package. - https://www.adslinspain.com/

Additionally, there may be places such as bookstores, coffee shops and pubs which provide free WiFi internet access. Such is the case in Madrid, where most local cafes provide free Internet access.



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