Mobile Wifi in Spain : 4 tips to stay connected at all times
What kind of person are you? Do you meticulously plan your entire trip in advance? Or are you one of those who prefers to let everything flow to see what happens? Both types of personalities have their advantages and disadvantages. However, in times of total connectivity, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social networks, being clear on how to stay online while abroad can save you from annoying headaches and money. What are the options for mobile Wi-Fi in Spain? The fact that mobile phone providers still charge ridiculous amounts of money for data roaming makes us write this little guide about the options you will face when you travel to Spain to actually enjoy your stay there!
Rent mobile WiFi in Spain: your options will travel from basic internet in Spain
These are solutions for mobile WiFi in Spain to stay connected to the internet during your trip.
Rent WiFi pocket for Spain
Portable WiFi is still not very well known by travelers. However, connected travelers never travel abroad without a Wi-Fi device. Mobile Wi-Fi for Spain is a very convenient and reliable solution. It's a small device, thin and small enough to fit in a pocket or purse. Pocket Wi-Fi transmits its signal up to 15 meters around you and you can connect up to 5 devices to it (smart phones, tables, laptops) at the same time. Pocket WiFi rental in Spain allows you to get 4G of LTE access at the same time!
In Spain, big cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Cordoba, Palma, Bilbao or Las Palmas and Gran Canaria have perfect 4G coverage, but when you leave the main cities pocket Wi-Fi and My Webspot will connect you to different mobile network providers. This will ensure optimum coverage in Spain.
Pocket Wi-Fi rental for Spain offers the best data package and the fastest 4G LTE speed. Mobile Wi-Fi providers are locally based and will have access to these local networks in order to maintain the cheapest possible prices. On the contrary, your personal local mobile network provider has to negotiate data prices with the foreign network provider. Therefore your PSP will not be able to offer you competitive prices. My Webspot provides 4G coverage throughout Spain with unlimited internet and a long and fair usage (1GB per day).
Free WiFi in Spain
Free WiFi in Spain can be a solution to stay connected for obvious reasons. Public Wi-Fi in Spain only exists in major cities such as Madrid or Barcelona. Cyber cafés are easier to find although not all cafes provide Wi-Fi. However more cafes in Spain are equipped with Wi-Fi these days. But in Spain as anywhere else in Europe, you first need to buy something before the cafeteria staff gives you the Wi-Fi password. So if you need to quickly check some information on the internet, it will cost you more time than expected. So internet access is not really free.
Only WiFi hotspots in Spain are really free. There is a map of potential WiFi hotspots that you can check at http://www.gomadrid.com/. However you will see that most Wi-Fi hotspots are in cafes that ask you for the consumer ticket as an exchange of the WiFi password.
There is also a big problem with free WiFi (in Spain and anywhere) which is the quality of WiFi. Free Wi-Fi can often be very slow. As it is free, providers do not invest much in the quality of Wi-Fi. You can quickly get discouraged when there are a lot of people online and for business travellers, it's a bad idea to rely on free Wi-Fi in Spain. There can be a high security breach and they can enter without permission the data of people with free WiFi from airports like Barajas ein Madrid or El Prat in Barcelona.
Finally the biggest disadvantage of free WiFi is its random location. The importance of the internet has its center that you are connected all the time. However with free Wi-Fi you can't be sure you have Wi-Fi all the time. Once you need important information, you will be forced to use your phone to receive an email or find a GPS location. Those 3 minutes of cell phone use in Spain can cost you a lot! Most travelers who rely on free WiFi in Spain end up with an account of at least €100 per data roaming.
It is also important to know that outside the big cities like Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia, it is almost impossible to find a public Wi-Fi. Again you will need to trust the next cafeteria to have Wi-Fi.
Prepaid local SIM cards in Spain
The main mobile network providers in Spain generally ask for a bank account number and address in Spain. If you want a SIM card with a good data plan you won't be able to avoid that. Prepaid SIM cards for travellers are common and easy to obtain. Of course it will be a bit more expensive but you can easily order your Spanish SIM card online.
Some network providers have specialized in prepaid Spanish SIM cards for travelers like Sim Options, MAsMovil or Hitsmobile. Prepaid SIM cards in Spain are very different from free Wi-Fi or pocket Wi-Fi rentals. The prepaid SIM card will mainly allow you to make more calls (more local than international) and will offer you poor quality mobile internet. The speed is generally 3G instead of 4G LTE and the data pack is quite low compared to renting Wi-Fi pocket for Spain.
The biggest problem with prepaid SIM cards is that unless you have a dual SIM card phone, you will have to take out your own SIM card. This means you won't be able to connect to send text or make calls to your usual phone number. You also need to make sure your phone is compatible with the band frequency in Spain if you want to use the prepaid SIM card. It often happens that travellers end up with useless prepaid SIM cards because their phone is not compatible.
Data roaming in Spain
Using data roaming in Spain is probably the worst mobile internet solution for a traveler in Spain. In fact some providers like AT&T or Verizon charge you 2$ per MG. Knowing that, an average traveler can use 800MG per day, so you can do the math - you can get a huge surprise when you return from your trip! A traveler from France in 2015 ended up with a €52,000 phone bill after two months in Spain... be careful, it can happen to you too!
Don't be fooled by your mobile network provider selling you an international data package for Spain. It is quite expensive once you finish the data plan, you will be charged the full rate without any warning.
*Unlimited internet with Daily Fair Usage Policy applies. Europe & USA: 1GB in 4G/LTE - Mexico : 2GB - South East Asia, Japan & China: Unlimited 4G/LTE - Rest of the world: 500MB in 4G /LTE. Throttled speed of up to 512kbps afterwards.