How to Use Mobile Broadband in Spain

Updated March 23, 2017

Mobile broadband systems use a small USB antenna, called a dongle, to access the Internet using the mobile phone network. Since mobile phone towers have much stronger signals than wireless hot spots, the effective area in which a user can access the Internet with mobile broadband is much greater. Using a mobile broadband dongle to get online while visiting Spain is possible, but may be very expensive.

Check what network standard your mobile broadband provider uses. European networks all use GSM, while American cell phone providers are divided between GSM and CDMA. A CDMA dongle will not function on European networks. In the U.S., AT&T and T-Mobile are GSM networks, while Sprint, Verizon and most smaller providers use CDMA.

Ask your data provider whether it offers international roaming, and at what rates. Data roaming rates are often exorbitant. For example, as of November 2010, AT&T charged 1.95 cents per KB of data; this translates to £12.60 per MB. At these rates, even a single PDF document or web page could cost over £65, while watching a streaming movie could cost as much as £6,500.

Plug in your mobile dongle into your laptop while in Spain and browse normally. Charges will appear on your monthly bill.

Visit a mobile telephone store when you arrive in Spain. The major local providers of mobile broadband are Telefonica, DSL Spain, Avonline and Direct Telecom.

Purchase a dongle on a pay-as-you-go basis. If you do not live in Spain, it may not be possible to sign up for a mobile broadband contract. Most providers offer pay-as-you-go packages, albeit at more expensive rates. You will need to buy the dongle outright and then purchase a fixed amount of data gigabytes, which you can top up at mobile phone stores at any time.

Plug your new dongle into a USB port on your laptop and install any software that comes with it. Most software packages should have an English option.

Open your Internet browser and surf normally.

Things You'll Need

  • Mobile broadband dongle
  • Laptop
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About the Author

Joshua Smyth started writing in 2003 and is based in St. John's, Newfoundland. He has written for the award-winning "Cord Weekly" and for "Blueprint Magazine" in Waterloo, Ontario, where he spent a year as editor-in-chief. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and economics from Wilfrid Laurier University.