Broadband in Spain: Everything you need to know
If you've recently moved to Spain and want broadband, you'll find everything you need to know about getting it here - what the big providers offer, how much you can expect to pay, small print...
Getting decent broadband can be a headache in any country. Spain is no exception, so we want to make life as an expat easier by giving you all the information you need to get broadband as a foreigner living in the land of Cervantes and Picasso.
In case you don't know us, Comparaiso.es is one of the leading broadband comparison sites in Spain.
Read on to find out who the biggest broadband providers in Spain are, which ones offer customer service in English and which ones do the best deals, whether you live in the sunny weather of Majorca or the Canaries, a big city like Madrid or Barcelona or in a small town in Andalusia or another region.
The biggest providers are:
- Movistar (also known as Telefónica) - The biggest provider in the country, with almost 50% market share.
- Ono - The biggest cable broadband provider, bought by Vodafone recently.
- Jazztel - A popular ADSL and fibre optic provider nationwide.
- Orange - The Spanish branch of the French company.
- Vodafone - They used to be small in home broadband but they've become the second biggest provider after Ono's acquisition.
- MasMovil - The newest and the fourth biggest Spanish provider.
In addition to Ono, there are a few other cable broadband providers that operate solely in some regions:
- Euskaltel - Only in the Basque Country
- Telecable - Only in Asturias
- R - Only in Galicia
You might have seen Yoigo shops around, but Yoigo is now part of MasMóvil, so both of them use the same mobile network now.
All these providers offer standard, cable and fibre optic broadband. However, sometimes, in remote rural areas, sometimes you can't get fixed-line broadband because it would cost providers more than they'd make back to extend their networks that far.
If that's the case, you can get WiMAX - wireless broadband - or satellite broadband instead. For example, Iberbanda is the biggest WiMAX provider - it covers the whole of Fuerteventura, the second-largest of the Canary Islands. Eurona is one of the biggest satellite broadband providers in Spain - it offers coverage everywhere (except in the Canary Islands).
You can get broadband from around €20 (£17; $22 -exchange rate: sept. 2016-) a month, all costs included. A typical package will give you download speeds of up to 50Mb, calls to Spanish landline numbers and several minutes of calls to Spanish mobile numbers each month. You don't normally have to pay anything upfront and contracts are normally between one month - 'sin permanencia' - and 12 months - '12 meses de permanencia' - long.
If you want a Spanish mobile phone plan, you can get a package that bundles broadband, landline calls and a mobile plan together, which are popular as you get more for your money. The cheapest ones cost around 29€ a month, and they're becoming the standard type of package in Spain, with all the big providers offering something along those lines.
When you're comparing the price of broadband packages in Spain, take into account that the prices advertised can be a bit confusing. Broadband and phone packages are advertised without including line rental in the price (which usually costs about €18 (£14; $15.50) a month extra). Broadband, phone and mobile packages are often advertised with line rental included in the price, which means that although they look more expensive, they cost around the same as broadband and phone packages.
It depends on where you live and what kind of broadband you have. If you have standard broadband you're unlikely to get the 'up to' speed advertised. For example, if you get a standard ADSL package advertised as offering up to 50Mb, you're likely to get about 10Mb, which is the average download speed in Spain. This is because the further you live from the local telephone exchange, the less speed you'll get, so in general you'll get better speeds in cities than in small towns and villages.
However, fibre optic broadband has quickly become widely available in Spain. The big providers are putting in fibre optic cables across the country, with Movistar leading the race. You can get fibre in most of the bigger cities now, which offers download speeds of up to 300Mb. With fibre optic and cable broadband you do get the speed advertised, which is often advertised as 'real speed' - 'velocidad real'.
As in most western European countries, you'll find Wi-Fi hotspots in most cities in Spain. You'll see signs advertising free Wi-Fi in shops, bars and restaurants such as VIPS and Pans&Company. It's also common to find Wi-Fi in public parks and libraries.
- Fon. While Fon, a global Wi-Fi network which works through people sharing a part of their home broadband in return for being able to use the Fon Wi-Fi all over the world, was invented in Spain, there aren't many Fon hotspots in the country.
- Ono. Ono is currently putting loads of Wi-Fi hotspots in different Spanish cities, although you can only use them for a week if you don't have Ono broadband.
In general, Wi-Fi hotspots are handy if you only use the internet very occasionally, but if you're going to be living in Spain for a while, and regularly use the internet, you're better off getting home broadband.
Your passport can be enough for you to sign up to a broadband package in Spain. But, sometimes, you might need a NIE - an ID number for foreigners - and a Spanish bank account too, depending on what provider you are dealing with.
Some providers may be reluctant to offer you a contract if you aren't a Spanish national, and some may ask you for a deposit.
If you think you're being asked to pay over the odds because you're a foreigner, cancel your order and try another provider.
Once you've signed up to a broadband package, you'll get your router within a week. If your home doesn't have an active phone line, a Movistar-Telefónica engineer will be sent out within a week or two to install a telephone socket. Once that's been done, all you have to do is plug in your router.
If you're with Movistar or Ono, an engineer will deliver the router and set it up for you, and if you already have an active phone line from another provider, you won't need an engineer to visit at all.
The whole process usually takes two weeks, although it can take longer depending on the providers - with Vodafone it can take up to a month, for example.
Switching broadband in Spain is pretty easy. First, make sure your current contract is up - you don't have any 'permanencia' left. If you switch before then, you will have to pay a fee for cancelling your contract early, so be careful.
Next, choose the package you want to switch to and sign up to it. Your new provider will then arrange for your current package to be cancelled and switch you to your new package. You'll be able to keep you telephone number.
You'll be sent a new router by courier and told when to plug it in - it'll usually be within about a week, once the connection is ready. You will only have to go without broadband and phone for a short time during the night, when the switch is physically made at the phone exchange.
Once that's done, it's worth calling your old provider to make sure everything's sorted, just in case you have to return your old router or something.
The switching process shouldn't take more than two weeks altogether. Your old provider may contact you to offer you a better deal during that time, but don't be tempted - you'll have to pay a hefty fee to get out of the contract that you only just signed with your new provider.
- Movistar. The biggest provider in Spain offers both sales support and customer service in English. When calling, just say 'English'.
- Eurona. The satellite provider also offers sales support and customer service in English. Again, just say 'English' when calling.
- Vodafone (and Ono). Vodafone offers customer service in English, Arabic and Romanian. The number to call for such assistance is 22189 and it only works from a Vodafone's number (landline or mobile).
- Orange (and Jazztel). Orange offers customer service in English, French and German and is available Monday to Saturday, 9am to 10pm. Orange's phone number is 695 911 900 (it's a regular mobile number) or 902 011 900 (you'll be charged for this call).
It's impossible to say what the 'best' broadband in Spain is, as what's best for you totally depends on your needs. However, if you're an English speaker who doesn't speak Spanish and you want to get OK broadband with minimum hassle, the best option is a Movistar broadband package.
Movistar packages are slightly more expensive than the average, but you can get Movistar broadband almost everywhere. In addition, Movistar have a good reputation when it comes to customer service, which it offers in English.
Movistar's basic standard broadband package gives you download speeds of up to 10 Mb, and calls for €38,72 (£30.69) a month (€21,32/£16.90 a month for the broadband and calls plus €17,40/£13.70 a month line rental). Installation is free and there's no fee for a new phone line. The contract is one year. If Movistar fibre broadband is available in your area, you can get it for the same price.
If on the other hand, what you are looking for is a great service and great price, then go for MasMovil. MasMovil is one of the leading companies in Spain since it acquired Yoigo and PepePhone in 2016 and it offers a broadband package with speeds up to 50Mb for only 29€ a month!
If you think your Spanish is good enough to deal with providers that don't offer customer services in English, then you could have a look at packages that include a mobile plan. When it comes to this type of package, Orange is a good option for foreigners because it offers cheap international call add-ons.
You can find all packages available in your area using the Comparaiso.es home page.
While we don't expect these tips to make getting broadband in Spain easier than it is in your own country, we hope they'll make getting settled a little simpler. Good luck and welcome to Spain!