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Living in Spain - Key Information

TV, Telephone and Internet in Spain 

TV: . Due to the differences in transmission, tv's and video recorders operating on the British (PAL-I), French (SECAM) or North American (NTSC) systems won't work in Spain.

In addition to terrestrial TV, satellite TV reception is excellent and is particularly popular among the expatriates.

A satellite receiver should have a built-in Videocrypt decoder (and others such as Eurocrypt, if needed) and be capable of receiving satellite stereo radio. With a 1.2 or 1.5 meter motorized dish, you can receive hundreds of stations.

You can import your own satellite dish and receiver and install it yourself. Before buying a system, ensure that it can receive programs from all existing and planned satellites.

Telephone: The telephone service is controlled mainly by Telefónica which owns several other companies (including Terra and Teleline).

When you get your telephone installed expect a fee of about 150 Euros to be charged for this service. A cheaper alternative (if there is an existing account) would be to get the account transferred. This will cost you about 40 Euros.

To have a telephone installed or reconnected, you must visit the local Telefónica office. Take along your passport or residence card (residencia), proof of your address and a copy of your property deed (escritura) or rental contract. If you're renting and don't have a residence permit (residencia) you must pay a deposit of around 200 Euros

Peak hours: from 0800 to 1700 hours from Monday to Friday and 0800 to 1400 on Saturdays
Normal: from 1700 to 2200, Monday to Friday.
Reduced: from 2200 to 0800 Monday to Friday, 1400 to 2400 on Saturdays and all day on Sundays.

Much money can be saved on out-of-country long distance calls by purchasing and using a phone card. In Spain, they are generally available at internet cafes and locutorios, which are shops from which long distance calls can be made, also at reduced rates, usually on a voice over internet system. Be careful when purchasing phone cards, however: check to be sure that the access number is a normal call (e.g., in Madrid, 91, or Barcelona, 92) rather than to a higher charge toll number. You also need to study the fine print of the phone card - in addition to the per minute charge, some add a connection charge per call, while others charge a daily fee which causes the card to expire even if not used, which hidden charges often make the apparent lowest cost phone card more expensive than others with higher per minute rates.

We prefer purchasing phone cards online, because it is easier to compare the various options and to avoid hidden costs.

One nice thing about purchasing phone cards online is that parents or friends in the US can purchase the calling cards online, and forward the pin and connection info to a family member or friend in Spain (such as students on a study abroad program), making the task of calling home both easier and less expensive.

Another option, if you have a PC and a broadband connection, is Skype. Calls to fellow Skype users are free, and outgoing calls to their Global Rate destinations are dirt cheap (less than 2 cents a minute at present, and coverage includes land line recipients in northern North America, Europe, Australia, Japan, Chile, Hong Kong, and scattered major cities around the world).

Beyond that, Skype allows expats from many countries to have an incoming landline number from their home country at a relatively low rate - currently 30 euros a year. We find this especially handy for US calls, because we can offer a US number that can be called at domestic rates within the US, and which will not cause us to be awakened in the middle of the night if the caller fails to realize we actually are in Spain. If we are working at the computer, we answer the call; if not, we listen to the voicemail an call back at a convenient time. At present, US, British, French, German, Swedish, Danish, or Hong Kong (among others) numbers with associated voice mail boxes cost only 30 Euros for a year. Click here to learn more.

Internet: Dial up internet is free in spain, until you get your phone bill. Your local calls are not free and will cost you by the minute.

This can be avoided by paying for a flat-rate service with the ISP (internet service provider) rather than pay for local calls. The rates of course depend on whether you use the service at peak or off-peak times.

The flat rates do not vary much from company to company and have various plans depending on how often you use the service.

Broadband generally is available in the larger cities, if not everywhere, and rates are competitive. For about 40 euros a month users can get a broadband connection. For heavy internet users, broadband can prove more economical than metered dial up connections.

For more in depth information on this topic, we highly recommend:

Living and Working in Spain: A Survival Guide

Click the link above to check the price at Amazon UK.



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