How to set up and get the best deals on telephones, mobiles and internet in Spain

telecom2While studying in Spain, you may wish to buy a mobile phone, install a telephone line or DSL and find about cheap calls abroad. Here are UniSpain’s tips for getting the most out of telephone and internet deals in Spain.

1. Ordering internet + phone line for a rental apartment

Telephone and WiFi in Spain If you are staying in a private student apartment in Spain, you may wish to enjoy ADSL (that’s what DSL is called in Spanish) or a landline telephone all to yourself, instead of going to the cybercafé or using WiFi at your language school.

Legal requirements Usually you are required to have a Spanish NIE number and a bank account in Spain to get a telephone or internet contract here – so these utilities are usually only suitable for students who are staying in the country longer. Check out UniSpain’s other blog resources on these topics.

NB A word of warning Many Spanish telephone companies will expect you to sign some kind of a minimum length contract (a contrato de permanencia), to get the cheapest deals. This may mean committing to 12-24 months of having a phone line or ADSL, and the provider can fine you if you cancel the contract early.
The main Spanish telephone provider is still Movistar (previously Telefonica). Although they no longer have complete monopoly over the market, the other providers, such as Vodafone and Orange, often depend on Movistar technology and infrastructure. You may sometimes find that having rented a line from one of the cheaper providers, they sometimes cannot repair technical problems originating in Movistar installations. Infuriatingly, Movistar does not always make it easy or fast to fix problems affecting other providers’ customers… So for minimal hassle, especially if your Spanish is basic and you don’t feel like spending hours on customer service lines trying to work out problems, you are probably safest to order your landline and DSL from Movistar.

Finding the good deals If you have online access (at school or in an internet café), you can often get the best deals for your phone line and ADSL on the Movistar website. Check out for “fusion” offers on packs where you get landline rental, a wireless telephone and DSL all in the same pack. You can also order ADSL on its own or add a mobile phone to the package. Alternatively, you can call them on 900 100 412 or compare offers from the competitors, Vodafone, Orange, Jazztel, Uni2, etc.

Price Depending on the number of services and the internet megas you want, you can pay anything from 35€ to 80€. You should also add 21% IVA (value added tax) to any offers you see, as they won’t always have it clearly included on the advertised prices.

2. Internet only


DSL only deals Ordering DSL only from Movistar can be a cheaper option, especially if you friends and family back home are on Skype. You can get deals for around 12 euros per month, plus taxes, and get about 10 mega, ranging up to fiber optic 100 mega deals for around 30€ plus tax. Again, you’ll need a NIE number, bank account and contract permanence restrictions and fines will apply as with any telephone and phone line combinations.

Internet Dongles Vodafone in Spain does a 3G technology based mobile internet “dongle” modem, which you can attach to your laptop or tablet and surf for around 30 euros per month. But the connection will be slow and may not be able to power applications like Skype in all areas of Spain where the 3G signal is weak. So ask locals or neighbors in your building about the strength of the local signal before you buy. Also beware of buildings that have a thick wall facing the nearest antennas in the area. If your home faces the wrong direction, you may well not get any signal at all on a dongle modem.

3. Landline telephone only

Fixed phone lines If you decide to go just for a fixed phone line, you can get one from 15€ per month (plus IVA) for the line and then pay 20 cents per minute for national landline calls. Realistically though, you will want to call home from time to time and maybe call your classmates mobile phones. You could have a Mi País (“My country”) extra feature added for a few euros to the line, offering you much cheaper calls to one foreign country of your choice.

The tarifa plana Or, you could get a tarifa plana, a fixed monthly bill that includes a certain number of call minutes for around 20-25€, plus taxes, per month. These deals usually let you use your phone line up to about 4 hours a month for a flat rate. And you can still add Mi País. Just remember that the contract lengths and fines if you leave early usually apply for these deals too.

Cheap phone cards There is another neat trick that you can use to get even cheaper calls to your home country, using your own phone line with a discount phone card bought at a locutorio. Read on…

4. Locutorios & discount phone cards

What’s a locutorio? For discounted calls and cheap international phone cards, you need to find the nearest locutorio. A locutorio is a shop with lots of phone booths that usually offer cheap national and international call rates, sell mobile phone recharge cards (see below) and some shops also function as internet cafés.

Typical prices If Movistar charges customers a minimum of 15€ per month line rental plus about 20 cents per minute for national calls, then you might be happily surprised to find out that a locutorio will charge around 9-12 cents per minute for calls to European countries (including tax) and 10-17 cents to other nations outside the EU. Always ask for the rates first and make sure the telephone meter is set at the correct rate before you start your call.

telecom4Discount telephone cards Discount telephone scratch cards, on the other hand, are cards that allow you to make cheap phone calls using your home telephone line. You buy the cards by type or make, depending on the world region or countries you want to call. They usually cost 5-10€ each, depending on the package. You simply scratch the silver cover off the card, which reveals a number code. Then you dial the central telephone number indicated on the card, punch in the code when prompted, followed by the telephone number you wish to reach. A 6€ card can last you a whole month, even if you make longish calls abroad every few days.

Internet cafés Locutorios often double up as internet cafés and there are also cybercafés which only offer internet access to customers. Prices can vary wildly, from Madrid tourist areas at 2€ for 10 minutes, to cheaper city areas or provincial towns, where the going rate will be about 50 cents per hour. Many internet cafés have headsets and microphones already attached to computer so that people can use Skype, so this could be a really cheap option if you are not staying in Spain for long, or don’t want the cost, hassle or commitment of having a DSL line installed at home.

Telephone booths In more remote areas where there are no locutorios, a good old fashioned telephone booth will do the trick for an emergency collect call home or to get a cab to pick you up after a night on the tiles. Spanish phone booths are usually blue and silver and they all belong to Movistar. Calls can be expensive – particularly to mobiles and abroad, so have plenty of coins ready or your call will be cut off promptly.

5. Mobile phones There are two types of mobile phone deals in Spain. You can either sign up for a contract mobile phone, where you commit to a longer contract just like with the landline and ADSL, or you can buy a rechargeable mobile.

Contract Mobiles  Contract mobile phones work out much cheaper, but they are not great for using discount phone cards to phone home, so they are much better for calling local Spanish numbers. If you are staying in Spain for a long time and have lots of friends with a local telephone number, then this is the option for you.


Rechargeable mobiles If, on the other hand, you just want a phone that your family back home can reach you on, then a rechargeable mobile is good enough. Outgoing calls are bought as “credit” through cash machines or by buying charge cards from locutorios, supermarkets and gas stations – or by calling the operator and giving them your credit card details. Outgoing calls are very expensive on rechargeable mobiles in Spain and a couple of texts abroad and three to five local calls can deplete 10 euros of credit in just a couple of hours. If you make a few calls here and there, and the phone is mainly for incoming calls, then you can pick up cheap, basic phones with some credit already included starting at about 12€ plus IVA.

The importance of staying in touch Here at UniSpain, we know that students are often on a very tight budget, so it’s important to save pennies wherever possible. And getting that reassuring call from home can sometimes mean the world. Now you should have a pretty good idea of Spanish phone and internet options and costs for your time in Spain. Let us know how it all went!

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