Broadband in Spain, and specifically mobile broadband in Spain, are topics which have appeared on numerous occasions in the Spain Forum. There is no doubt that the Internet has become such a common occurrence in many countries around the world that ultimately when we move overseas we automatically expect similar broadband and Internet service levels. But is broadband in Spain as good as it could be?
Broadband in Spain
While you would expect that Spain, being a prominent figure in the European Union, should offer acceptable broadband and mobile broadband services it would appear that for many people this may not be the case. Even though the mobile office has allowed many people to move to different areas of the world and ultimately retain their links and lines of communication with their customers, it is not always that straight forward. So effectively, you should be able to work from Spain, Brazil, America, the Far East and any other area of the world and your customers would not know any different. Well, this is the case in theory!
A quick look at the Spanish broadband market shows that ADSL broadband, cable broadband, satellite broadband, WiMax broadband and mobile broadband are all available at differing levels across the country.
ADSL broadband in Spain
Until the mobile broadband market began to take off, ADSL broadband in Spain was the more popular variety of broadband subscription service. For around €44 per month speeds of 1 Mb per second are available with 2 Mb per second speeds costing around €86. As ever, the vast majority of broadband services in Spain revolve around Telefonica and the need for a landline.
Cable broadband in Spain
As in the UK, cable broadband in Spain is predominantly centred upon the major cities and towns around the country. In order to be cost-effective, cable broadband providers in Spain offer larger bandwidth than ADSL broadband and will allow customers to bundle TV, telephone and broadband packages together. The cost of cable broadband in Spain can be anywhere from €40 upwards offering speeds around 4 Mb per second.
Satellite broadband in Spain
Satellite broadband in Spain is literally a last resort for areas which have been ignored by the more traditional broadband providers and appear unlikely to attract their attention in the short term. When you consider that the equipment required for satellite broadband can cost in the region of €1000, with around €90 per month for speeds of around 512 kb per second, this literally is the bottom of the pile.
WiMax broadband is becoming more and more popular in areas of Spain which do not have easy access to landlines or cable broadband services. Whilst these can vary between 1 Mb per second and 8 Mb per second the cost of this particular service is around €20 per month. However, you do depend upon transmitters dotted around the various hotspots in Spain which will allow you to effectively “piggyback” on to existing broadband services.
Telefonica is by far and away the most dominant company in the Spanish telephone market and ultimately has a stranglehold on the broadband sector. However, a quick look at the Spain Forum shows that many people have had terrible service from Telefonica with regard to their broadband services although it has to be said that some people believe the company is reliable and the best available.
It would appear that it does depend on which area of Spain you live in as to what level of service you can expect from Telefonica, something which appears to have pushed more and more people towards mobile broadband providers in Spain. This has prompted a reaction from Telefonica Broadband and there is a suggestion that prices are coming down as the company begins to realise it may not have the Spanish broadband market all to itself.
However, are the experiences of Spanish mobile broadband users any better?
Mobile broadband providers in Spain
There are many mobile broadband providers in Spain which include Vodafone, Orange, Movistar and other well-known names are now starting to come into the market. While Telefonica is fighting back with its broadband market share under attack it has to be said that at this moment in time there appear to be more negative comments than positive comments regarding Spanish mobile broadband.
However, it would be grossly unfair to suggest that Spanish mobile broadband is the only mobile broadband sector in the world which is struggling because ultimately even mobile broadband in the UK has yet to receive across-the-board acceptance. Many people believe that mobile broadband, while obviously well-developed in some areas of the world, is ultimately struggling to keep pace with demand and is not as yet directly comparable to the vast majority of landline-based broadband services.
The problem for broadband providers in Spain
The problem for the broadband market in Spain is the fact that Telefonica is dominant in the landline market and ultimately has a firm hold on the landline broadband market. Due to the lack of competition in many areas it would appear that Telefonica has been slower than most to invest and improve its basic broadband service which has ultimately forced more and more people towards alternative broadband services – such as mobile broadband.
Even though there is no doubt that mobile broadband does have a large part to play in the future broadband market maybe, especially in Spain, the service is not yet ready for the mass market?
Dependence upon broadband connections
While the basic dial-up broadband services of the past have bitten the dust in many areas of the world, they are still fairly popular in Spain. As we mentioned above, the slow progress in developing the broadband market, both landline broadband and mobile broadband, has forced many people to remain with their original dial-up services. When you consider the dial-up speeds available compared to landline broadband and even, in some circumstances, mobile broadband, there is no comparison.
With more and more people moving to Spain, and other areas of the world, dependent upon their Internet connection it is imperative that the Spanish authorities and the Spanish broadband providers ensure that future investment matches future demand and future requirements. If mobile broadband around the world is developed faster than landline broadband in Spain there is an opportunity for mobile broadband providers to flood the Spanish market and wipe out more traditional Internet services.
The mobile office, or should we say the global office, is something which is taken for granted in many countries around the world with more and more expats not even bothering to check out the standard of broadband available in their chosen country. As you will appreciate, this could have massive financial consequences for those who depend upon the Internet for their everyday living and everyday finance. Having your income choked at the base will have a major impact upon your standard life and ultimately whether you can actually afford to live in a foreign land.
The cost of mobile broadband in Spain
Vodafone is one of the more prominent mobile broadband providers in Spain and while the cost of this service does fluctuate depending upon periodical promotions and discounts, it appears that you are able to obtain 1 GB download capacity for around €45 a month. While the broadband speed will not be as quick as the more dependable landline broadband services it does allow you mobility and can often act as a very good backup in case your landline service fails.
However, as with any mobile broadband service where there is a maximum download capacity, you need to be aware of any potential extra charges if you exceed these levels because in some cases they can be very severe!
Ultimately, the cost of mobile broadband in Spain is considerably more than that in the UK although it has to be said that the UK market is more competitive and does appear to be more developed. The fact that the number of mobile broadband users in the UK continues to rise, even though many customers still have issues, allows the providers to reduce their costs in the short to medium term in the knowledge that the volume is there and ultimately they can increase their costs again once they have hooked their new customer.
Worldwide broadband services
While this particular article is centred upon broadband services in Spain there is a need to be aware of the significant variation in broadband speeds, broadband availability and broadband costs around the world. If you’re looking to move overseas, do not fall into the trap of assuming that the broadband service you enjoy in your homeland will be the same in your new homeland!
It is also worthwhile pointing out that the more densely populated areas of the world will obviously attract the larger broadband providers who will ultimately see a better chance of profitability. So while there are many costs to consider when moving overseas, such as accommodation, you may also need to consider broadband service reliability when deciding on your final destination.
Thankfully the onslaught of the Internet has itself opened up a very useful broadband comparison sector which will allow you to compare prices, speeds and the reliability of broadband services around the world. Broadband is one of those unique business sectors in the world where cost should not always be the main motive.
Developments in the broadband market
Even though the situation with the Spanish broadband market is at the moment very disappointing to say the least there is no doubt that broadband technology is changing and developing on an ongoing basis. The problem the Spanish mobile broadband and the Spanish landline broadband markets have is the fact that these areas seem to have been starved of investment while other countries have poured millions upon millions of pounds into their broadband networks and broadband services.
However, as developments continue to be announced on a regular basis there is no doubt that the cost and access to traditional broadband services will become cheaper as new services come to the market. This should help the Spanish broadband market to develop and become more reliable and cost-effective in the short to medium term, assuming that the authorities and the broadband providers have learned their lesson.
While it would be wrong to suggest that Spain is the only broadband market which is struggling, it would not take you long to find a complaint or negative comment about the Spanish broadband market if you looked at any Spanish Forum. There is no doubt that the dominance of Telefonica over the years, and its ongoing dominance, has starved the sector of significant investment and ultimately competition in the early years of the broadband industry.
In many ways mobile broadband in Spain could be something of a catalyst for change in the Spanish market because mobile telephone networks are well developed across the world and it does not take a major shift or major investment in technology to introduce mobile broadband to any country with a reliable mobile phone network. However, many people believe that mobile broadband is not yet sufficiently reliable to take on the main market, although there is no doubt that slowly but surely progress is being made.
If you’re looking to move to countries such as Spain, where the broadband sector is not as developed as others around the world, it is essential that you do your homework to ensure that ultimately you will get what you expect when you move home. It is dangerous to assume like-for-like services when moving between countries although this is a trap that more and more people still fall into despite the various warnings and concerns in the media.
When you consider how vital the Internet has become to our everyday lives there is no way that the Spanish authorities and Spanish broadband providers can afford to sit on their hands for much longer. Not only will it affect the number of visitors to the country but ultimately there is the chance that we could see the Spanish economy fall behind in the efficiency stakes which would then put the future of many Spanish businesses at risk.