NOTE: Changes in EU legislation have significantly reduced costs of using your mobile in the EU, so that (unless you adopt a roaming package from your provider) costs should not exceed 38p a min for calling and 19p for receiving, irrespective of who your provider is. Receiving texts is free but sending can cost up to 50p. The EU has just (summer 08) announced plans to control costs of texting too. The Commission wants texts to cost no more than about 10p, and unless companies cut their tariffs will legislate. Cannily, some companies are cutting their costs from September 2008, so as to benefit from the high charges during the peak season. The EU has just (summer 08) announced plans to control costs of texting too.
On 22 April 2009 it was announced that further controls will be introduced to control the cost of using other services such as 3G in Europe, and further reductions in call costs. Details will be announced later in the summer. The reason? Apparently there are elections to the European parliament coming up, and the cynical BBC reporter suggested that this could somehow be connected. Whatever the reason, it is good news.
You can use your mobile phone in Spain fairly easily. However because of the variety of networks the situation is complex.
An interesting solution is to buy a Spanish sim. This has the great advantages of saving you the UK-to-Spain charge that your provider would normally charge you (see below) if you are called from the UK,* and also gives you cheap calls within Spain and reasonable calls back to the UK. If you make frequent trips to Spain it is definitely worth checking out: you can buy sims over the internet at 0044.co.uk. This site has good reviews in the press, and is recommended on the excellent moneysavingexpert.com, but I haven't used it yet. This is particularly useful if you are phoning within Spain.
(Nov 2010) If you regularly spend time in Spain, and again don't mind not having your regular mobile UK number, it seems that a cheap but rather fiddly option to make quite long calls to the UK is to sign up to Vodaphone Spain - i.e., buy a Spanish Vodaphone sim card, but get the "Vitamina 60x1" option**, and by a Eurodirect card (see below). You can then spend up to 60 minutes via eurodirect calling the UK. You pay a fixed cost for the 60mins call, and by the minute for eurodirect. For a full 60 minutes it costs I think 1.2 cent a minute so is really cheap. Shorter calls will cost more. This is explained in more detail here, which has other suggestions, and also see here, which also discusses using Eurodirect with other Spanish mobiles, and where you can also buy a Eurodirect card online (although they are available all over in newsagents etc.) Apart from the fiddle, a drawback is that for friends and family to call you, they will have to pay rates for calling an overseas mobile. Another drawback is that if you can't get through, you still pay the 53cents charge for connecting to Eurodirect.
**That's what I read but on going to a store (20/11/2010) they seemed only to have A mi Aire 90X1 24h which gives you 90 minutes for any call to to a landline or to a Vodaphone mobile, for only 1 minute cost. This works fine, and you use the Eurodirect mobile access number. (The alternative allows you to call any other network also but only evenings.)
Another good solution if you are an O2 customer is to pay an extra monthly payment of around £5 (for PAYG) for the Spain option. This allows you to receive calls for free in Spain, so your friends can call you as if you are in the UK (i.e., for free if they have free minutes). Making calls (mobile, landline in Spain or UK) is 25p a minute instead of 35p. Upper limit of 1000minutes a month. Details are here.
If you are a US citizen, another good option is to buy an STM sim which allows you to be called for free from the US for calls lasting up to 30 minutes. Details are in a good article in about.com which discusses further options, including the Spanish vodaphone one mentioned above, and buying Happy Movil sim (which I have just done, so will see how that goes).
(*although your caller will presumably pay more for effectively phoning a foreign mobile)
Summary of using your mobile phone in Spain: If you use your UK
mobile, in general you will be paying up to £0.38 a minute for calling home, but you
will also pay £0.19 for receiving calls (but your UK caller will only pay what
they would pay to call you if you were in the UK--after all, how should they
know where you are and why should they be penalised if you happen to be abroad).
The European Parliament recently (June 2007) passed a law that will make using your phone abroad much cheaper. The proposed "Euro Tariff" will cap roaming charges at 33 pence a minute for making calls and 16 pence for receiving calls. It should come into force by August 2007. BBC Report
For phoning from a landline, phone cards are probably the best option for a one-off visit, but they are much cheaper if you buy them in Spain. They can be bought in garages, tobacconists etc. E.g., eurodirect is one I have used a lot and seems to be the best I have come across (there are slightly cheaper ones around if you search). You can buy a card for 6 euros, and by dialing a freephone number you get 300 minutes of time from say a hotel; this is very cheap indeed (less than 2p a minute). Unfortunately as of August 2004 calls from Telefonica kiosks attract a surcharge, which multiplies the cost by my calculations by about 6 to 7 times. It is only valid for 45 days once you have used it for the first time, which is a pain. (The kiosk on the main square in San Pedro del Pinatar sells them, as does Quick Save). I have discovered that some hotels will charge when you phone using a phonecard, although most in my experience do not, so it's generally an incredibly cheap way of phoning home. It's worth trying it once and then checking with the desk to see if they charge. You can also buy Eurodirect online at Europhone Calling Cards (I think there is a .25€ charge to cover credit charge fees) and the necessary pin number will be e-mailed within 48 hours; you only need the pin to use the service so this is perfectly efficient. (I haven't used this service.) Use the Feedback Page if you know of a better deal so I can update this.
If you don't want the bother of buying a phonecard, or will end up with wasted credit, Dial Abroad Spain may be a solution. It is an instant dial service that let's you call abroad "with no account to open, no separate bills and no hidden charges." (I tried it myself and it works fine.) It works from any phone. From payphones, you pay for your call as normal by putting in coins. Rates vary according to which payphone operator you use. The Instant service costs from 8-12 eurocents per minute from a payphone (probably out of date). Oddly, the rate varies depending both on the payphone operator and on the location of the payphone (for example, a Telefonica payphone on the beachfront may charge more than one on a back street). From hotel phones, calls should presumably be charged as a standard local rate call in Spain, but of course some hotels charge a lot for these.
The following is some blurb from the same company on a new service they offer:
New DialAbroad Euro service enables you to make calls from your Spanish landline or mobile to anywhere in the world, including UK landlines for 4 cents/minute and UK mobiles for 15 cents/minute The DialAbroad Euro service has been designed to be simple and easy to use. To get started simply: (1) Visit www.dialabroad.eu/spain and purchase DialAbroad calling credit securely using a credit or debit card or PayPal.Credit is available from just 5 Euro and there is no ongoing subscription or commitment.(2) Confirmation of purchase is sent via email and a PIN code sent to your mobile phone.(3) Make a call by dialing 914 149 940 - the Spanish access number - followed by your PIN number.Calls to the DialAbroad access number will be included in most "free minute" bundles on both landline and mobile phone packages. Access numbers for other countries are available at www.dialabroad.eu or on our wallet sized information cards. The access number and PIN can be stored in your mobile phone by entering 914149940pXXXXXXXX# where p is a pause and the Xs represent your PIN number.(4) Your balance is read out and you enter the destination number beginning 00 and then followed by the country code and local number (for example, 00 44 20 8497 8008). You’re then advised how many minutes you have remaining and are connected. You can use the same credit for calls from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Spain and the USA - so it's great for travelers too. Unlike calling cards and other account based services, the DialAbroad Euro service offers: - Purchase online with no contract, commitment or subscription- Make low cost calls 24 hours a day- Call from landlines or mobiles- Use the same credit from 8 countries – so it’s great if you travel in these countries: eg. you can use the same credit for making calls in Spain, France and Ireland all for the same great rates. No need to pay for different services when visiting different countries.- Especially low cost calls to UK mobiles.
I also used to use "More Minutes". This is good if you will be making a lot of calls or are a frequent visitor. Use their website http://www.moreminutes.es. They seem to have some talk as much as you want deals, but I have not used them recently. The rest of this paragraph is based on my experience a couple of years ago. The "card" is only valid for 3 months, so you presumably lose your credit. You can put either 30 or 60 euros from your credit or debit card into it, and it costs only 8 cents (about 5.5p at current exchange rates) a minute for regular calls, either to a landline in the UK or in Spain (not sure about other countries). (Calls to Spanish or U.K. mobiles cost about 4-6 times that, still cheap.) It takes a few moments to set up. You have a free phone access number and a pin number (the latter can be forgone if no-one else can dial from your line). Make sure you use the freephone number (900805770) rather than the local call access numbers (the latter are charged at local rates, and in fact you only pay 5 cents a minute on top, but the local rate will be high if you are phoning from a call box or hotel etc.) The beauty of it is that you should be able to use it without charge to phone from a hotel room (I've not had a problem yet) or a Telefonica (the national company - they are very common) phone box, though it doesn't seem to work from other phone boxes. It is also very reliable, the operators speak good English, and you always get through to them straight away. It tells you exactly how many minutes you have left, and I have not found that time disappears mysteriously as it does with other providers. One thing they don't tell you over the phone is that after a call you can press # twice to make follow on calls (avoiding having to redial the access number etc.). They also now have an automatic top-up option, and will e-mail you the new pin number each time the top-up is activated if you ask them.
There are also cheap call back services, but for the visitor these are not so
Of course, if you need to phone from the UK to Spain there are plenty of good options. I was moved to talktalk, but their much advertised deal with free broadband and free calls to countries such as Spain for about £20 a month incl. line rental sounds difficult to beat; are there any catches? Not that I have heard. Send me feedback if you have signed up. Otherwise: PJ emailed me to suggest telediscount, for which you don't need to prepay and charges only 1p a minute to Spain. I used it a lot for a while. But recently (11/06) the quality of the connection seems to have deteriorated considerably, so I have abandoned it. (Telediscount: You just dial 0844 861 98 98 and then when you hear the voice dial the whole number (0034...) with a # at the end , although check their website for changes in numbers in case the deal gets even better; they also have a number for dialling mobiles in Spain). As I have now switched to telewest broadband I am stuck with using one of these operators. Recently I have found that ratebuster charges 1p a min and gives much better quality on average, but I did get one dodgy connection.(dial 0844 720 0000; it works the same way as telediscount; 0911 677 0000 at 13p a min for calling mobiles), and also planet-numbers (2p; dial 0844 799 0181, or to call a Spanish mobile 15p per minute - just dial 0911 552 0181 then 0034...) which was good quality each time I used it.
I was previously using OneTel which was costing me 4p a minute to Spain which still seems to be the rate if you pay the international caller £1 a month fee.
The Owl and the Sparrow
The Owl and the Sparrow is a book about a battle that takes place in a forest. The battle is between the birds on one side of the forest, which they themselves call the good side of the forest, and the birds (vultures) on the other side, the dark side of the forest.
Owl is the leader of the good forest and his adversary is the Condor, reputed as being the darkest force in the forest. Into the story enters an apparently naive sparrow who is seduced by Condor into the dark side of the forest against the rulings of Owl. Owl refuses to send help because he does not want to endanger the lives of more birds, but also because he is furious with the sparrow. He says that sparrow was asking for trouble.
Also on the good side of the forest are an incredibly silly group of finches who like to play games and torment the vultures. But their silliness and game-playing skills are no match for the profound darkness of the vultures, and some are captured, and terrorised.
Golden Eagle rules over the whole forest, but he gets little involved because he has left Owl a set of rules. Finally he gets angry with what he sees happening on both sides of the forest, and realises that rules are not enough. So out of his concern and love for the birds , he sends his son, Silver Eagle, to the forest. The book covers the events that follow including a bitter battle and the discovery that there is an unknown traitor within their camp.
Author Ruth Thomas
Editor Joan Mitchell
First version typed up and suggestions made by Deborah van Welie