The primary telephone service provider in Catalunya is Telefónica. To have your service connected or disconnected, you will have to visit the local office or alternately, you can contact the company via their website at http://www.telefonicainenglish.com.
The company also has an English-language call service that is open for inquiries between 10:00 and 18:00 from Monday to Friday. The number to call is 902 118 247.
You should be aware that while telephone services in Catalunya, as well as the rest of the country, are of reasonably good quality, it could take a very long time for you to get your telephone service connected due to the long waiting list in most neighborhoods. Even if the property owner claims that there is an existing telephone line in the house that you are considering buying or renting, it may not be activated at present, and activating it may take a long time because of overloading of the current telephone networks in the area.
If they say 10 – 15 days, give it a month and then call back. Some people have been waiting up to three years to get their connection, for no apparent reason.
If you have an NIE (see our NIE and Residency section) and a Spanish bank account for the bills to be debited from, you can arrange your connection over the phone or the internet. You will need to provide your address and a passport number when you arrange the connection.
Calls usually cost around €0.06 per minute locally and a little more to mobiles (depending on the network).
By far the cheapest way to make overseas calls is to buy a phone card from a Locutorio (a combination internet cafe and public phone booth) or any Tabac (tobacco shop). You will punch in the code under the scratch panel and then dial the number as normal. Unless you use VoIP (phone calls over the internet), international calls get very expensive from a standard fixed-line.
An important note: Before you connect your phone, make sure the last bill was paid by the owner or tenant. Although it is illegal, Telefonica makes a habit of holding the new tenant responsible for the bill before they will connect.
You can buy a prepaid SIM card as soon as you arrive in Spain for about €10 (which will include €10 worth of credit). You can buy an international SIM card from Orange which will give you your own personal PIN (delivered by SMS) that gives you up to 2 hours of talk time overseas whenever you recharge with €10 or more. This will be your best option until you can get an NIE. As soon as you have your NIE, get yourself a contract. They are cheaper, and the phones are attractive.
The best suppliers are Orange, Movistar (http://www.movistar.com/), and Vodafone, but as mentioned above, Vodafone is far superior for customer service.
Although you can organize your contract online, it is better to go into the store to test your phone, sign the contracts and ask any questions you may have. Spain works very much on a ´who you know´ basis so if you make friends with the salesperson and something goes wrong, you will have a much better chance of having it fixed quickly.
Like other Western European countries, mobile contracts tend to run for 18 months and most contracts will include a ´free´ phone. A €50 per month contract should give you at least €200 worth of calls, and probably the chance to use your phone as a modem or bundle your other mobile internet options into the same package. Again, you will need to provide identification as well as your billing address and bank details.