High Speed 3G mobile Internet is accessible in large parts of Spain. For visitors, travelers, holidaymakers it's now possible to have prepaid fast Internet access without a fixed mobile cellphone contract. It allows you to surf the Internet on your laptop, notebook, netbook or smartphone, iphone. Here's how.
3G high speed internet in Spain
Spain has 3 mobile networks covering most of the country. These cellphone networks are Orange, Movistar and Vodafone. The rest of the mobile cellphone operators operate on 1 of these 3 or a mix.
|Mobile Cellphone 3G Internet networks in Spain|
Browsing their websites to figure out who's got the best prepaid Internet access is not easy. Specially the fine print (conditions & terms) is hell and next to that it's impossible to get a grasp of the reliability and coverage of the network without being connected in the first place.
In spring 2012 Yoigo seemed to be the better 3G prepaid cellphone operator to access the Internet. It seems the've stayed on top since 2010 when they offered pretty much the same deal.
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Yoigo in Spain - so far the better network
So here's the deal with Yoigo in spring 2012:
|3G Internet through Yoigo in Spain|
- 3G Internet access costs € 3,- per day ex tax. (See point 5)
- Each day is limited to 100 Mb of traffic,after which the speed drops to GPRS
- The SIM card costs € 20,- including € 20 prepaid balance.
- Topping up balance can be done at petrol stations, newspaper stands, supermarkets.
- € 10,- top-up results in € 8,- something balance. (You pay VAT / TAX here)
- After purchase the connection works after a few hours.
- It's full access Internet except for VOIP and P2P
- VPN connections work (so far)
- The Yoigo helpdesk has a few English speaking operators who are pretty helpful.
The December 2009 with 3G prepaid prepaid PAYG offers from The PhoneHouse in Spain lists the following prepaid 3G Internet options. In 2012 these deals are pretty much the same.
|December 2009 brochure from The PhoneHouse in Spain for 3G Internet on your Laptop, Netbook or Notebook.|
Forget the offers for cellphone Modems or 3G USB modem - the Yoigo SIM card is sold separately for a minimum of € 20,- at The PhoneHouse in December 2009.
Yoigo competition - MoviData from the Phonehouse
Yoigo faces competition in the 3G prepay / prepaid market from MoviData (launched by The PhoneHouse), Orange, Vodafone, Jazztel, Movistar and BIMgo (Blau). MoviData stepped forward in summer 2010 with the following 3G prepaid offer based on the Orange network.
In 2012 the cheapest deal for € 1.5 / day still works the same;
|3G prepay prepaid PAYG data offer from MoviData (The PhoneHouse) in summer 2010 - valid till 31 august 2010
The catch in this offer is the above 100Mb bundle rate of 6 eurocents / Mb. At 3G speeds one needs to carefully track data usage - it's not a daily flat-fee rate. Compared to Yoigo it’s just 25 Mb more and the € 3,- / day is spend. From here Yoigo switches to 64 kpbs while MoviData continues charging 6 eurocents / Mb.
Though in area’s where there’s only slow GSM/GRPS/EDGE coverage the MoviData prepay offer has the better rate reducing costs to € 1.50 per day.
Buying the Yoigo 3G Internet SIM card
Here's where you have to prepare yourself a bit. You'll be very lucky to encounter an English speaking salesperson to buy the (Yoigo) Internet SIM card. It's better to assume you're not so lucky, unless you speak Spanish yourself.
Best bet might be to go to one of many The PhoneHouse shops. The PhoneHouse website has a shop locater.
The PhoneHouse has monthly magazines / brochures with all their offerings in there. Get one and start digging. Most likely the (Yoigo) offer is in there. It helps a great deal to have that page ready.
Next to language there are 3 basic hurdles to take:
1) is a hard nut to crack if the sales person isn't trained properly. Best option is to try an convince them to call their superior or the Yoigo helpdesk. If that doesn't work, simply leave - find another shop. You only need your passport to register for a prepaid SIM card. The SIM card registration address is usually the shop location or your hotel, campsite address.
2) The catch with the regular mobile SIM card is about 30 minutes of 3G Internet access per day for €1,50. After this the speed drops to about half of GPRS speed. This is extremely slow. The Internet SIM card is the only workable 3G simcard. In the December 2009 PhoneHouse magazine / Brochure the Internet SIM card is listed separately
3) This is either a sales trick or unfamiliarity. If you don't need the 3G USB stick, don't buy it. Most likely its SIM locked to the (Yoigo) network.
The 3G internet SIM card usually works after several hours. Before that you'll get the error "SIM card registration failed". This is normal, but if in doubt after a day call the Yoigo helpdesk.
Yoigo operational details
The Yoigo 3G Internet network is pretty fast and delivers the speed advertised. Rural area's however don't have 3G so the speed drops to EDGE and sometimes to GPRS.
The helpdesk is responsive within 24 - 36 hours when contacted through their website response form. You need to register your phone number first.
After 100 Mb of traffic the speed drops about 6-10 fold. For basic e-mail and surfing it still works.