Yoigo y los Datos – Cutting down your mobile calling and internet access costs while staying in Spain

Update (Vodafone)

In Germany there is a saying “Don’t praise the day before dusk”.

Two days after having published my praise for Yoigo here, they may have uncovered my “excessive” service usage. The bright coach has now turned into a dull pumpkin: Gone are the the 80 MB for EUR 1.20. Instead, soon after having reached the first Megabyte (and having paid EUR 1.20), my connection is now slowed down to 8 kBit/s, making it next to impossible to use the data service at all (e.g. Google Mail complaining about broken network, downloading a 375kB PDF taking more than 5 minutes).1 MB per day at decent download speeds for EUR 1.20 no longer looks as if it were a bargain.

The main problem is, that there’s no reliable information on precise traffic amounts and conditions. This even applies to the status SMS you’ll receive after each session. It just states how much you paid for the session (0.000 Euros after having used up the first megabyte of traffic) but does not indicate your actual traffic usage. For my Nokia E90, 1 MB is next-to-nothing (e.g. opening Adobe’s home page just twice).

So I reverted to Vodafone and bought me a Vodafone prepaid SIM at a local Vodafone outlet, added an additional charge of EUR 60 and spent it on a month of “unlimited” Internet access. Of course, even with Vodafone, “unlimited” has certain – and in this case well documented – limits: Your first Gigabyte will fly in at maximum network speeds – up to several MBits/s (provided both, the mobile network station and your device support UMTS  third genaration standards). Any excess traffic will be slowed down to 128 kBits/s. That’s still not too bad at all. Provided you’ll use up your Gigabyte, you’ll pay 6 Eurocents / Megabyte of traffic. A great value in my opinion with the added benefit of cost transparency. Vodofone as well offers other data packages, e.g. 1 GB of traffic without set time periods (but of cource nothing left, once your package has been used up).

A word of caution: Don’t even think of browsing without buying a data package first: You would end up paying 2 Euros for each Megabyte of traffic from your prepaid balance.

Original post (Yoigo)

Being a computer nerd on a tight budget and spending a vacation on the Canary Islands, I chose to get a Yoigo Prepaid Mobile Card in order to avoid excessive roaming costs.

Yoigo offers excellent coverage, using Vodafone (including Vodafone’s UMTS coverage) to fill in their network gaps. Rates are quite competitive, about 14 Euro Cents per minute for domestic calls.

There’s a hidden secret in their offering though: Yoigo won’t charge you more than 1.20 Euros per day for Internet access. If you have a state-of-the art Nokia mobile and want to browse from your notebook, tha fastest way to gain Internet access is to enter “internet” within your mobile’s packet access point settings, enable infrared on both your mobile and your XP/Vista notebook and use *99# for the dial-in number.

However, precise conditions of use are not being divulged to customers, so it took a couple of sessions to find out what you’ll get for your money: 1.20 Euros will buy you up to 80 MBytes at download speeds of 384 kBit/s (using UMTS coverage), your daily allowance being renewed at exactly midnight “Peninsula” time. Any excess traffic will be crippled down to about 16 8 kBit/s, eventually coming to a complete halt at about 100 MBytes (mobile unit forcibly removed from the network and unable to reconnect for a couple of minutes). It appears as though once you try to use anything near 80 MB/day, your daily allowance will be reset to just 1 MB (before your connection will be slowed down to 8 kBit/s). See Update above.

All in all, if you’re looking for a mobile provider in Spain who offers reasonable rates, and provided your mobile Internet traffic averages around 40 MB/day (perfect for email and browsing, but inadequate for uploading YouTubes), right now Yoigo may be your best bet. They sport several tariffs, e.g. one that has a monthly minimum of about 6 Euros and has lower call charges, and another one that has no monthly minimum, but incurrs slightly higher call charges. On the Canary Islands, you’ll find Yoigo at local Post Offices (services not offered by Correos themselves, but by privately owned enterprises that operate within the vicinities of Los Correos). If you need more (prepaid) traffic, you may want to take advantage of one of Vodafone’s offerings (e.g. 1 month of unlimited Internet access for 60 Euros – traffic beyound the first GB slowed down to 128 kBit/s).

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is based on personal experience and given as is. No warranty of any kind regarding its fitness of correctness can be given. Stay googled to keep informed 🙂

About Reiner

Born 1954 in Ratisbon (Bavaria, Germany), in 1976 punched cards at Berlin Technical University, caught hacking one of its mainframes by Horst Zuse (son of Konrad Zuse), started studying computer science and soon was offered a job whithin their computer department doing systems programming for IBM VM/370. While studying, jobbed around Germany at various places doing all sorts of things, then returned to Berlin to work at SRZ (computer aided typesetting). Never finished my master degree, but chose to take up self-employed work (which didn't turn me rich nor famous). Now working for a mid-sized software company within a very promising department as head of server software development.
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