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Old 16th August 2010, 07:33 PM   #1
cc49
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Default Mobile broadband and phone help needed

Hi...I'm desperately looking for, in laymans terms, information on mobile broadband and mobile phone options for my daughter who will be studying in Sevilla for the fall semester.

Can anyone explain the costs, where she should go and what you would possibly recommend for both/either of these needs?

So far, from what I've read on different sites I don't understand alot of the information as it is quite different than what we have here in the states!

Patience and any help would be greatly appreciated! thank you
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Old 17th August 2010, 06:21 PM   #2
Sagitario
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If as you say your daughter will only be studying in Seville for a limited period of time then obviously, any service(s) on a contractual basis would be best avoided. Being that it is the general Spanish practice for such contracts to be in place for a minimum 18 months period.

And, just in case you might not already be aware, Spanish laws governing the sale of 3G mobile communication devices state that for national security reasons, such devices can only be purchased by individuals, on production of acceptable forms of ID, while on Spanish soil … or, in the case of postal dispatches, mailed to traceable addresses in Spain.

Re: Seville University
While you did not mention exactly where in Seville your daughter would be studying, on the off-chance that the course is in someway connected to Seville University then have her take a look at its installed Wi-Fi network.

For a Seville city centre map of other Wi-Fi hotspots CLICK HERE

Basically, 3G mobile communication coverage of Spain is controlled by four carriers …
… Movistar (Telefonica Spain) … Vodafone … Orange (Telecom France) … and most recently, Yoigo (Xfera)
What smaller 3G operators there are will invariably be utilizing the networks of at least one of the above four networks.
By virtue of having a longer presence in Spain, Movistar and Vodafone have by far the most well established and largest network coverage than their two smaller competitor carriers.

For an overview of the current state of the Spanish 3G prepaid market CLICK HERE … and … CLICK HERE

Low-Cost Prepaid Mobile / Cell Phone Voice Calls from Spain

For the past two years the service that I’ve used is that of LEBARA

First off, a simlock free Cell Phone is required in order to accept a Lebara enabled SIM card.

Seville’s Lebara SIM card accredited store is located at …
Locutorio Mykola, Calle Pages del Corro 50
Directions: From Seville City Centre … cross the river using the Puente de Isabel II … walk up the Calle San Jacino … turn right onto the Calle Pages del Corro.

The recommended sale price is 10 Euros per SIM Card (5 Euros prepaid credit included). Lebara Spain SIM cards can also be purchased online via the Lebara Spain website ... but note, they will only be dispatched to traceable Spanish addresses.

When buying over-the-counter, make sure one is in possession of a current passport and possibly some form of official documentation that lists a Spanish address.

The devil in the Lebara Spain detail:
• Calls made using the Lebara Spain service utilize the Vodafone network … so there is generally good coverage.
• Domestic calls made to both fixed line and cell phone numbers within Spain incur a 29 Euro Cents connection fee and are charged at 15 Euro Cents per minute ... No charge to receive calls
• Overseas calls made from Spain to both US fixed line and cell phone numbers incur a 29 Euro Cents connection fee and are charged at 8 Euro Cents per minute ... No charge to receive calls
• Domestic text messages sent are charged at 15 Euro Cents … All international Text messages sent are charged at 25 Euro Cents ... No charge to receive text messages.
• Free calls between Lebara to Lebara enabled numbers only apply to domestic calls made within Spain.

Lebara Spain Top Up Terms & Conditions:
When one buys a Lebara Spain enabled SIM card it comes with a minimum of 5 Euros prepaid credit. However and if needed, one can usually purchase additional credit at point of sale. The user is then required to further top-up a minimum of 5 Euros prepaid credit at least once every two calendar months. Failure to do so will disable the user making further calls while still being able to accept incoming calls. The user is then required to contact the Lebara Spain call-centre in order re-enable outgoing calls by adding additional credit. If no credit has been purchased after a four-month calendar period the SIM Card becomes inactive and all remaining credit is forfeited.

Using the eVoucher system, Lebara Spain top-credits in 5-Euro multiples can be purchased … at amongst other places … Post Offices [Corroes] and Telefonica Shops

The Happy Movil option sponsored by the Phone House

A recently introduced service similar to that offered by Lebara Spain. Happy Movil top-up terms and conditions are a little more generous than those of Lebara. In that the minimum pre-pad top-up requirement is extended to once every three months with the threat of forfeiture of both access and outstanding credit likewise extended to six months upon failure to top-up prepaid credit during the period.

While domestic call tariffs appear to be structured along the same lines as that of Lebara. Per minute calls to US fixed line and mobile numbers are half the cost (at 4 Euro Cents) being that Happy Movil channels its call traffic via the Orange network. Unfortunately, reports suggest that Orange currently has something of a questionable reputation for network coverage throughout Spain, lagging somewhat in that department behind the more established and bigger pairing of Movistar and Vodafone. Therefore, I can make no comment of the extent of Orange's network coverage in and around Seville.

Last edited by Sagitario; 18th August 2010 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 18th August 2010, 04:34 PM   #3
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Sagitario,

Thank you for the detailed information! Yes, her classes will be mainly through the University of Sevilla. Her university here consistently sends students to Sevilla, so we were armed with a bit of information, but nothing with options or details!

We wanted to be able to have mobile broadband also to avoid having to use a wi-fi hotspot on a regular basis to contact the States due to the time difference--don't need her to have to run out at 3am! For everything else, a wifi hotspot will be ideal.

A friend of hers who study in Sevilla last year recommended Vodafone and said that it was easy to find and use. But she didn't have any pricing information that she could remember and we wanted to be a little more aware of what we were getting into instead of just plunging in blind.

One question, I do appreciate the information on Lebara and I understand you use it, but when I went to the website, Spain was NOT listed as a country available. It went from Somalia to Sri Lanka on the list!

Can you purchase a Lebara simlock free phone at their stores? Would you have a possible price range? And would you recommend Lebara over Vodafone?

The prices seem reasonable and may eliminate the need for us to have her bring our phone also (was considering an international package through our carrier of AT&T for peace of mind sake). At the current exchange, the .37 connection and .10 per minute is a fabulous rate (US was .99 per minute to Spain).

Thank you again for your time and information!
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Old 18th August 2010, 08:26 PM   #4
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Hi CC49 - have a look here for the Phonehouse list of prepaid (or moviles de tarjeta)
As Sagitario says though, if it is mainly for calling the States then a specialist operator is going to be the cheapest.
An alternative if she can access a landline is to use calling cards which provide several hundred minutes for 5€ - but you do have to dial a lot of numbers They work on mobiles as well but you will get far fewer minutes.
Anyway what makes you think anyone goes home here before 3am
Bringing a phone from another country is the most expensive way to go as the roaming charges are steep. She could bring an unlocked one and just buy a sim of course, that's usually almost cost free as they give you free minutes.
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Old 18th August 2010, 09:04 PM   #5
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Thank you Greytop. No, it won't be mainly to call the US; she will need to be able to have access to others in Spain too. She will not have access to a landline.

Yeah, I'm a mother, but I'm not stupid...I just want my "child" to not HAVE to find a wifi spot when she wants to get in touch with us! Of course that part is more for OUR benefit than hers, I'm sure!

I've been looking at the Phonehouse website and it seems that these phones are for contract plans only. She would need a phone that would not have a contract.

Can any phone she brings that is unlocked be able to be used with a sim card in Spain from Vodafone or Lebara?

Thanks!

Last edited by cc49; 18th August 2010 at 09:11 PM.
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Old 19th August 2010, 01:04 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cc49 View Post
...

I've been looking at the Phonehouse website and it seems that these phones are for contract plans only. She would need a phone that would not have a contract.
The link was to the prepaid phones 18€ upwards, 29€ for an Alcatel touch screen, much more for the fancy ones! Móviles de tarjeta at top of page. If you "ordenar por PVP" you'll get them in price order

Can any phone she brings that is unlocked be able to be used with a sim card in Spain from Vodafone or Lebara?
Yes - if its a modern phone it should cover the European frequency bands. The shop should be able to trial a SIM for her.

Thanks!
I'm sure some of the other students will soon set her straight on the best deals.

Late entry - Happy Movil - select country EEUU for tariffs on left hand side

Last edited by greytop; 19th August 2010 at 01:07 AM. Reason: add link
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Old 19th August 2010, 03:02 AM   #7
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The only problem with many students is they get what they want, not what is the best value for their $! If we have some choices for her, at least she'll be better informed (which is our hope)! google translator did allow me to see the prepaid phones in English, but I must have misunderstood, so I appreciate your clarification. The site has many more phones to choose from than we have here plus more for her to afford, so thank you.
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Old 19th August 2010, 06:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cc49
A friend of hers who study in Sevilla last year recommended Vodafone and said that it was easy to find and use. But she didn't have any pricing information that she could remember and we wanted to be a little more aware of what we were getting into instead of just plunging in blind.
Re: Vodafone Spain Pre-paid 3G internet hardware and access costs for laptops and notebooks … see Internet Móvil Prepago

(Requires the use of an enabled Flash Player to view the pages properly and also, this particular section of the Vodafone Spain site is all in Spanish)

First … see link for “Escoge tu pack” (Pick your dongle)

You should then see displayed a choice of two identical USB Modem dongle devices priced at 49 and 29 Euros respectively.

The 49-Euro priced dongle comes with 150MBs of internet connection usage already added and ready to plug in and go. Once activated, the user then has a maximum three-month period in which to exhaust it before being required to purchase additional usage.

The 29-Euro priced dongle comes blank and needs to be topped up in order to gain internet access. However, upon purchase of such a first-time top-up, whatever usage is added is duly doubled by Vodafone.

Next … see link for “Elige el tipo de bono” (Choose what to pay)

“Tarifa Diaria” (Daily Euro Rate)

4 Euros in any 24-hour continuous period buys the first 250MBs to be used on a use it or lose it basis at 3G speeds and then the remainder at the painfully slower 128kps GPRS speed until the time runs out.

“Bonos de Navegación” (Pre-paid Euro Rates)

a) “Bonos por volumen de navegación” (Pre-paid cost of 250MBs @ 19 Euros, 400MBs @ 29 Euros and 1GB units @ 59 Euros to be used during a continuous 90-day period)
b) “Bonos por tiempo de navegación” (Pre-paid cost of a maximum 1GB usage by the week @ 19 Euros, by the fortnight @ 29 Euros and by the month @ 49 Euros)

Finally … see link for “Recarga tu bono” (Where to top-up)

By telephone … ATM … in a Vodafone Shop by purchasing an appropriate pre-paid voucher (being the paying by cash option) … and online.

On condition that the Vodafone Modem dongle remains activate and even though a user’s account may display no available pre-paid credit, connection to the internet and to a user’s Vodafone account should always be possible at maximum 128KPs GPRS speeds in to order to facilitate a top-up request.

Had a quick look using the Vodafone Spain store finder engine as to the number Vodafone outlets in and around Seville and I stopped counting at 10.

Be advised that Vodafone 3G mobile internet technology is not generally VOIP user friendly when it comes to SKYPE-like audio and video communication applications. Also on grounds of cost, it’s not really suitable for bandwidth hungry usage such as video streaming … even the shortest of video downloads will eat up the MBs big time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cc49
One question, I do appreciate the information on Lebara and I understand you use it, but when I went to the website, Spain was NOT listed as a country available. It went from Somalia to Sri Lanka on the list!
Here, I’ll need to wider expand on the workings of Lebara.

I am not at all surprised that you could not find Spain listed as a country on the link I provided because that particular Lebara website is exclusively dedicated to the activities of Lebara within Spain. Instead, I refer you to the Lebara ‘parent’ site at …

http://www.lebara.com/

As you will see from the displayed headline banner, Lebara offers users both international and domestic pre-paid low-cost calls using mobile technology from within national boundaries of …

… Australia … Denmark … France … Germany … Netherlands … Norway … Spain … Switzerland … and the United Kingdom

Each of these countries has its own dedicated Lebara website due to the differing languages and currencies in use together with such national criminal / taxation laws that govern the sale and usage of its services in each of these jurisdictions.

A Lebara enabled SIM card purchased in Spain can only be used to make pre-paid domestic calls within Spain and to countries listed on the Lebara Spain website at applicable per minute rates.

For example, I live part of the year in the UK (which is where I am now) and part of the year in Spain (which is where I hope to be come the British winter). When I’m in Spain I use a Lebara Spain enabled SIM card in my simlock free mobile phone to contact landline numbers throughout the UK and Portugal. But, when I’m in the UK I am required to change my Lebara Spain enabled SIM card over to a Lebara UK enabled SIM card in order to contact landline numbers throughout Spain and Portugal. However, most of the time when I’m here in the UK I tend to use SKYPE at less than 2 pence (of a pre-paid British Pound) per minute to more cheaply phone Spain and Portugal landline numbers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cc49
Can you purchase a Lebara simlock free phone at their stores? … Would you have a possible price range?
No, all that Lebara provide is a country specific SIM card (in this case, Spain) and pre-paid access to its country specific network (in this case, Vodafone Spain). Lebara has no stores (that’s arguably why they have a rather low profile) choosing instead to market its services either online or through accredited retail outlets in countries where they have presence.

As greytop as already alluded to, in order to save your daughter the hassle you might be better advised to acquire a suitable simlock free mobile handset (together with necessary battery charger) of either the brand new or used variety at your end … and she doesn’t really need anything fancy to do the job. The only provision being that it must conform to the “Global System for Mobile Communications” [GSM] standard in order to accept a “Subscriber Identity Module” … commonly known as a SIM card. Which, reportedly some 80% of all cell phones presently in Global circulation already do. For a more detailed explanation see …

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GSM

Failing that I’ve found it to be something of a waste of time trawling through Spanish websites of the likes of Movistar, Vodafone and Phone House looking for handset buys because they are really only interested in marketing their own data traffic contracts attached to seemingly give-away mobiles. It’s very much a case of boots on the ground and being physically in their retail outlets to see what’s on offer at the bargain end of the market.

20 to 25 Euros should be sufficient enough to pick up the likes of a basic SAMSUNG E1150 or an ALCATEL 222. You can Google the maker’s name and number if you want more details and a chance to see what they look like. If they are already SIM card locked into a Spanish network then expect to pay a 10-Euro premium to get them unlocked. One is able do this because in 1998, the Spanish telecom regulator, “Comisión del Mercado de las Telecomunicaciones” [CMT] secured a voluntary agreement from Spanish mobile carriers to provide unlocking codes for a fee to users before and during the first 12 months of a contract and then for free following completion of 12 months.

If while in Seville, your daughter does decide to shop around for such a suitable cell phone to slot in either a Lebara Spain or Happy Talk SIM card, all that she really needs to be aware of is if a particular handset is “Tarjeta libre” or “Tarjeta no libre”. Which is Spanish mobile phone speak for a handset being either SIM Card Unlocked (“libre” in this instance meaning not network restricted) or Locked (“no libre” meaning network restricted).

Quote:
Originally Posted by cc49
And would you recommend Lebara over Vodafone?
Because Lebara Spain uses the Vodafone Spain network effectively there is no difference in the standard of service. There is however a substantial difference when it comes to the pricing structure. On one hand, the pre-paid tariffs of Vodafone Spain are considerably cheaper than that of Lebara Spain in terms of purely national mobile voice and SMS traffic. While on the other hand, Lebara Spain beats Vodafone Spain hands down when it comes to such voice and SMS traffic crossing international borders.

What you have to bear in mind is that Lebara was initially set up in 2001 to essentially service a demand by immigrant and ex-pat communities within certain European countries that allowed them both a convenient and cost effective means of keeping in contact with their respective homelands by means of mobile phone technology. Use of the Lebara mobile network for domestic reasons is only of secondary importance for its users. Where Lebara really does come into its own is when regularly making international calls from Lebara designated counties when the cost of doing so by fixed line means would likely prove prohibitive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cc49
The only problem with many students is they get what they want, not what is the best value for their $!
You better believe it! The times I’ve been in the Alicante Old Town and watched students pooling all their small change together at the end of a week-end evening then overhearing heated discussions about whether to buy a final round of cheap drinks or make a visit to MacDonalds or Burger Kings before they close-up for the night. From what I’ve seen they really do have little idea where the money goes or indeed, where it comes from. Be it priced in Dollars, Euros or Pounds the most that the vast majority of students know about value is how to spell it.

Last edited by Sagitario; 19th August 2010 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 1st September 2010, 06:49 PM   #9
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Thank you for your detailed information and quick response. We are leaving for the airport in 5 minutes to begin her adventure! Because of the tremendous information we received, we feel confident she will be able to get the best option for mobile while in Spain! A heartfelt thank you for helping put our minds at ease!
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