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E.T. Phone Home - But Maybe Not From Spain

By Susan Pedalino

A phone line is considered a basic amenity and is considered to be the norm especially in a brand new, purpose built home. However, buyers of off plan property shouldn't be so complacent to expect to be able to check your emails when away from work on holiday or even make an emergency phone call without a mobile phone.

Your off plan may be almost habitable and on a first inspection, you may have noticed that the telephone sockets have been installed. You will probably be told by someone connected with the developers that you just need to arrange with Telefonica to start using a phone etc. Likewise, do not assume that just because you have spent in excess of a million euros on your Spanish property, that a phone line will be part of the package.

Unfortunately, it seems that a phone line is considered an after sales problem which developers and agents choose not to get involved with. Buyers are often left minimum of two years waiting for a phone line. If you are considering buying a resale on an off plan development and a phone line is important to you, it might be worth your while to do a bit of homework. Look at the road in the urbanisation for metal access manholes cast with "telefonica". This means that the conduit channels have been built in when the roads and pavements were constructed. Have a look for overhead lines nearby, check with the neighbours to find out if they have a phone and how long they had to wait for it to be installed.

However, sometimes even this is not enough because the ducting may have been built but without cables installed. If the developer has not installed the lines the cost of installing them may prevent Telfonica from doing so. The lines that have been installed may not be the right type to use the Internet, emails etc.

If you can't get a phone line, and need to use the internet, do not despair as there are ways around the problem. We used GPRS, a mobile phone data communications system for a while. It is not a particularly cheap option as you pay for the number of bytes that are transferred to and from the internet. It's also quite slow, similar to a dial-up connection. Modern phones can take advantage of the new 3G network which provides a much quicker connection, but the network is limited and again, not cheap to big users.

Unfortunately, we live on an urbanisation in Manilva, Costa del Sol and it is unlikely that we will have a phone line installed for a long time yet. However, we are lucky enough to have a wireless internet connection that allows us to make phone calls and use the internet. In order to receive this we must be in line of sight of a transmitter located on Estepona Mountain. I am told that there is also one on Mijas Mountain. The tariffs are comparable to Telefonica although the ADSL connection is slower. We aren't about to complain as we are grateful to have found a solution. The company that we used is Iberbanda, they have a website www.iberbanda.es. The best thing about this company is their customer service, they are so professional.

For those of you that have no phone line problems, be prepared because it is inevitable that you will have to deal with the infamous Telefonica at some point. They are normally a total nightmare to deal with. To have a telephone installed or reconnected, you can visit your local Telef nica office. You will need to take your passport or residence permit (residencia), proof of your address such as a recent electricity bill, and a copy of your property deed (escritura) or rental contract. You will pay an installation fee and for the phone that they provide you with.

Making Calls

Spain's country code is 34.

Numbers beginning with 9 are landlines.

Numbers beginning with 6 are mobiles.

To make a call from one phone in Spain to another just dial the number beginning with 9 or 6. There are no town codes as such in Spain, where each province has its own area code. All numbers have nine digits and include the area code, which must be dialled whether you're making a local call or calling Spain from abroad.

The usual response when answering the telephone is diga or d'game (meaning hello or literally, "speak to me"). The caller may preface what he has to say with oiga (listen). "I'm trying to connect you is le pongo/ le paso con - A call is una llamada and to call is llamar.

Do not feel that you are tied to Telfonica. There are other companies Auna or Jazztel. However, you will still need Telefonica to install the actual phone line. If you were to choose Jazztel as your provider and then decide that you want to change to Auna, Telfonica will charge you a fee to go back to their service. This is because you cannot switch from one provider to another without going via a telefonica installation.

Once you are online, use a VOIP phone for free calls. This allows you to make phone calls over the Internet. We use Skype (www.skype.com), which enables us to call other Skype users anywhere in the world for free and any calls to UK landlines for less than a euro an hour. This is the future.

About The Author
Susan Pedalino is Masters degree qualified in Intercultural Communication and teaching English as a foreign language. Susan regularly writes for Eye on Spain (www.eyeonspain.com). Having moved to Spain to set up a business and buy property, she has gained invaluable experience in buying off plan property in Spain.



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