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Getting connected: Internet in Spain

Ten years ago, you'd be hard-pressed to find a computer in Spanish homes. Locutorios, or cyber cafes, were positioned like Starbucks on every corner, and smartphones were non-existent. The times have certainly changed, as Spaniards are more wired than ever, and many businesses are taking their operations online. Cities are even beginning to offer free wi-fi on public transportation and in heavily-visited squares.

Spain Specifics

Keyboards in Spain are often different from a keyboard in your home country. There's a button called “Alt Gr” that will allow a greater range of characters, such as the @.

Spanish pages end in the domain “.es”

Cyber cafés do still exist in some places and offer Internet access for 2-5€ per hour, as well as printing and faxing in many cases. Ask for locutorios.

Internet Companies

Competition is stacked when it comes to Internet companies in Spain who offer attractive prices, loyalty programs and maximum speed. It's become typical for clients to contract bundles from ISP providers, which include any or all of the following: Internet, landline, cable television. As always, shop around for the best fit for you, and always read the fine print (as some may require the installation of an additional telephone line, are only good the first six months or are an indefinite price).

**These prices are merely estimates and will change according to offers, unforeseen charges and tax hikes. Alway consult the company for current rates

Jazztel – Up and coming with an ever-growing client base, Jazztel offers fiber optic cables that provide Internet service. Their packages tend to be varied according to usage, and their promotions are legendary and often include mobile phone lines. The basics follow, not including extra fees for phone lines:

ADSL up to 15MB

15,95€ + VAT / month

ADSL up to 20MB

19,95€ + VAT / month

Fiber up to 30MB

19,95€ + VAT / month

Movister / Telefonica – Movistar is part of the Telefónica dynasty that has dominated Spain's market for decades. This company is perhaps the most flexible, offering plans for those with movistar lines already installed in their homes, those who do not have an ADSL line or those interested in mobile Internet. Clients who have a mobile phone number with movistar receive discounts on their installation and cheaper rates.

Up to 10MB

19,90€  + VAT / month

Up to 20MB

24,90€  + VAT / month

Up to 30 MB

29,90€ + VAT / month

Ono – After the Spanish government opened up the market by making Telefónica public, Ono was one of the first companies to be founded, and now is the leading broadband telecommunications company in the country. Their service often comes in bundles, where clients can choose to have Internet, a phoneline and cable TV for one price (add 5€ extra to these prices for TV price).

ADSL up to 12MB + phone line

15,90€ / month + VAT

ADSL up to 30MB + phone line

19,90€ / month + VAT

ADSL up to 50MB + phone line

25,90€ / month + VAT

ADSL up to 100MB + phone line

70,90€ / month + VAT

Orange – better known for their mobile services, Orange is the Spanish branch of the French telecom company of the same name. Its main services include the ADSL bundle with landline and offers for pre-existing clients. Rom 13,95€ / month + VAT and a phone line quota.

Vodafone – As one of Europe's major phone companies, Vodafone also offers Internet connections through their ADSL. A pre-existing phoneline is required. From 14,95€ /month + VAT and a phone line quota.

How to Get Connected

To connect to your Internet, you'll need to purchase the company's router specific to the type of plan you're purchasing. Installation is often free with new contracts, and sometimes routers are available for rent (though this price may be higher than actually buying it).

By either calling (for a fee to your mobile company) or visiting a local office, you must provided a valid ID, your address and other pertinent address and a Spanish bank account. Like any bill, the monthly amount spent will be deducted from the account provided either monthly or bimonthly.

Depending on the service provider, installation may be done immediately through a pre-existing phoneline, or you'll have to wait for a technician to set up the equipment in your house. It's advisable to always keep your network closed, as young people try and skirt the fees by “stealing” Internet from their neighbors.

Internet Pen Drives

Nearly all Internet companies in Spain are offering the alternative to traditional cables and wi-fi in the form of a USB drive that works on 3G or GPRS. While this type of service can be attractive, there are still many quirks that make this connection only viable for those who will be on the go frequently.

For starters, the connection speed is much slower because it often uses the signal of 3G telephones to connect. Most mobiles can't handle the demands that a computer needs when browsing, so the signal is slow and often lost. Expect to pay about 15€ for a monthly quota of 150MB, or 59€ for 5GB with most companies.

By Cat Gaa, who left her native Chicago five years ago to live in the olive groves of Andalusia. Residing in Seville, she teaches first grade at a private school, but all she wants to really do is write.