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Communications

NEWSPAPERS
During the years of General Franco's dictatorship, the press was subjected to severe censorship. Spanish newspaper journalists tended to disguise whatever was real news. All that started to change with the arrival of democracy, and more importantly, the launching of a new national paper, El Pais, in 1976. When it first appeared, El Pais came as a refreshing alternative to the leading daily of the time.

Readership of newspapers in Spain has traditionally been among the lowest in Europe. This was not because Spaniards were uninterested in news, but because Spanish newspapers have generally been boring and expensive. Another reason being that a large number of older Spaniards, those who would be most likely to ponder over a newspaper, are unable to read (or write). Even now, there are still a large percentage of older inhabitants who are illiterate. This is the legacy of Franco's Spain when literacy was considered less important than being able to work and support the family - many had to leave school at the age of 9 to work in the fields. Most Spaniards still see radio and television as a more reliable and entertaining source of information.

POSTAL SERVICE
Though renowned for slow, or non delivery of mail, and its 'couldn't care less attitude', the Correos (Postal System), is very gradually improving over recent years, although it still has a long way to go. Post offices (Oficinas de Correos) are generally found near the centre of towns and are normally open from 8am to noon and again from 5 to 7.30pm, although big branches in large cities may have considerably longer hours and usually do not close at midday. In smaller towns you may find they are only open from 8am to 2pm. Mail deliveries can be very haphazard with often no deliveries in country areas at all or sometimes within a set number of metres from a main road - often dictated by the postman or post woman. You can rent a postbox (apartado) at most Post Offices, or alternatively you can wade through piles of post that are unlikely, or cannot be delivered by the postal staff. The postboxes are for use by one named person or business. If the box is used by a second person or business, the rental of the box doubles in cost - this situation seems to vary from office to office, as do the prices charged for any of the services offered. It is often said that some smaller offices are run as a franchise, hence the higher charges. Non delivery of mail can be a big problem especially if you don't pay a bill because you didn't receive it. Usually a hefty fine is imposed by the sender, or in some cases money will be removed from your bank account. They can find your bank by searching using your national identity number. Post Boxes can have another problem. If the staff sorting the mail put your mail in the wrong box (and this happens often), the receiver (if Spanish) will usually keep it for nosey-ness sake, and not hand it back to a member of staff.

Telephone

Telefonica provide two versions of their DOMO handsets, the manuals for these are only available in Spanish. However English translations have been made of the Telefonica manuals and they are available Here.

TELEPHONES
The telephone system in Spain is dominated by the formerly state-owned Telefonica, now 'Telefonica Movistar'. The international access code for Spain is +34. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Public telephones are either coin or card (tarjetas telefonicas) operated. Telephone cards can be purchased in post offices, newsagents and kiosks or tobacco stores (estancos) that have the sign Tabacos outside.

If you are considering moving to Spain, the opening up of the telephone market means there is a choice of companies you can direct your calls through (often much cheaper than Telefonica), but you may still have to rent the telephone line from Telefonica. If you move into the countryside, the chance of renting a 'land line' telephone line reduces dramatically. Be prepared to use your mobile phone, but don't expect a signal in some of the more remote areas. Spain is a big country with a lot of 'empty' spaces. There are a few companies offering a telephone service via satellite and this often comes with Internet as well, but often isn't perfect.

 

INTERNET
The Internet is generally available in towns, cities and the coastal regions in Spain, but the further you go into the countryside, the less chance of a connection, or the signal along the telephone lines becomes too weak. There are a number of companies offering a satellite Internet connection, and although gaining in popularity (often because there is no alternative), it does remain a rather expensive option. A more recent alternative in some areas is a radio/wireless system which is beamed from various high vantage points in some areas, the predominant company offering this being Iberbanda, There are many other companies serving local areas. This system only works if you have direct sight between your house and the broadcasting mast. This system offers telephone and Internet and is not over expensive, but is dogged by inefficiency.

If you are on holiday in Spain, you will find that most towns, cities and resort areas have Internet Cafes where you can check your e-mails and use the Internet, generally for a reasonable charge. More recently are WiFi Internet points available around kiosks, cafes, etc.

 

Mobiles
Just about everybody in Spain uses a mobile phone - often because the alternative is nonexistent or not good enough. There are many companies offering coverage for your mobile, but beware. If you can't read their terms of contract (in Spanish), you may run into problems if you need to complain. Normal charges vary considerably in addition to extras which may not be obvious when you take out the contract. Examples can be - A charge as soon as you dial the first number or while waiting for the call to be answered. You may be charged for an Internet connection even if you don't want it, or don't use it or have a 'non-smartphone'. Sometimes getting out of a contract, even if outdated, can be a nightmare. BEWARE !!!

Make sure your area is covered by the company offering the mobile service. An example is a town with a plush Mobile shop offering a well known brand, but for which there was no signal in the area, or perhaps you and the sales assistant will have to cross the road or walk to a different road to get a signal. BEWARE !!!

Another beware. If you buy a 'pay as you go' mobile phone just for phoning or texting, you may find that it is connected to the Internet, and although you may not use the Internet, you may pay as much as 40 euros a month just to be connected to it. If you don't want the Internet, get the connection cancelled - even if it involves a heated argument..

Be careful, don't buy or rent a mobile just because it looks nice or has a lot of options. In Spain there's much more to be considered.

 

 

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Kennett

Seymour