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Chasing the dream in Spain. Part 2

A continuation of the original blog, telling of two 'Brits' settling down in Spain, the many trials and tribulations they come across, and the days when everything just goes right. If this blog dies too, due to 'technical issues', a copy is posted on

Internet and VoIP
14 October 2011 @ 18:05

One of the few things I have actually missed from the UK, apart from a certain brand of corned beef, sad, I know, is my old cable Internet. Yes, I know, there's free wi-fi everywhere these days, but sometimes it's just better to do things from home, and more convenient, not to mention secure. When I was having discussions with my landlord about moving in, he mentioned that they were thinking of having the Internet put in anyway. He has the same system set up where he lives, and it works well. Being a naturalised Yorkshireman, the first words out of my mouth were how much? Of course, closely followed by how fast? Ok, there was the initial installation costs, but basically, it's 8meg broadband for €10 a month. I'll have some of that! The principle behind it is quite simple, but would never work in the UK, because people lack the ability to 'share' anything. I live in apartment block which has a lift in it, which has an outside telephone line in it, for emergency use, it goes to a call/help centre somewhere, I believe. So they put broadband on it as well, a bit like you do with a traditional phone line at home. They then run this to a router/switchbox in the TV room, and from there a cable to whoever wants the service. You never actually notice that anyone else is on, unless you are unlucky enough to be sharing with someone who like to download films etc, common sense should prevail here. The beauty of the system, is that the more people sign up to it, the lower the cost to the individual, my landlord currently pays just over €3 a month for his. Bargain! It's been up and running for a couple of months now, and I am extremely pleased with the service.

He also mentioned to me that he also ran his landline telephone from it as well. He has an English telephone running on it, so anyone can ring from the UK, and it's a domestic call, and he gets 1000 minutes of free calls to UK and various other countries, landlines only though. It was very cheap to run, all I needed was a VoIP box to plug into my router and a standard type phone to plug into that. It's a UK based company, he emailed me the link to take a look. All looked fine to me, time to purchase a VoIP box. I decided to purchase this out here to do my bit for the local economy, rather than have Amazon ship one out, if the price was not too different. I chose a shop about fifteen minutes drive away for my purchase, it's near where we originally lived out here, we still go there a couple times a week to see friends and some work related bits, it's also where we got our TV from. It's a bit like PCworld, but a lot smaller, the staff are less irritating and actually have a clue what they are talking about, unlike the aforementioned outlet! The more senior, manager type person there spoke at least five different languages fluently that I could make out, so service issues would not be a problem. They sold phones so they might have a VoIP box as well. They didn't carry them in stock but their larger branch in Alicante did, they could get one for me from there, it would be here tomorrow, if that was ok. Hook, line and sinker. I ordered one, and guess what, it didn't arrive, what a surprise. A few phone calls and a a couple weeks later, it still had not arrived. I was going past, so I called in. Would it be ok to walk to Alicante and fetch it myself, or do I get someone coming out from the UK to bring me one (along with a few precious tins of my corned beef!), even Amazon to deliver it maybe. Just over three weeks after ordering it, it arrived, snails pace even by Spanish standards. So I went to pick it up and buy s phone. If they didn't have one that I liked, they could order me one, let me just think about that one. No thanks, I'll take this one off the shelf I think.

Back home, I get everything out of it's boxes, to have a look. It was suggested that I might need a little 'expert' help getting it up and running. I used to tinker about with my old PC at home and things like that, so with a flush of bravery (stupidity?), I start lining everything up by the only plug socket within reach. How hard can it be? On to the website, register my details, and follow the instructions for the make of VoIP box I had bought. Five minutes later, I get to the point where it tells me to make a test call with the few minutes given free to a new customer, which I did. It worked! Great, all I need to do now was select a price plan and get an 'actual' phone number. The plan I wanted took quite some finding on the website, eventually I found it after flicking through various web pages pushing me towards various 'premium' plans. I signed up for it for £5.99 a month, picked my preferred UK area prefix, and entered my debit card details, done. But not quite. It seems that due to debit card fraud, I would need to 'prove' who I was to spend such a princely sum of money!!! They wanted a copy of a utility for my UK address, I'm sure I mentioned the reason I signed up for the service was I now live abroad, and have let my UK property, so I don't have a utility bill. Ok, they would accept a bank statement, but I went paperless years ago, and they would not accept one I had printed off from the web. Brainwave! How about some 'official' paperwork from HMRC, or maybe a nice document issued by a government department, like a passport or driving licence? No? Apparently, these documents are not acceptable forms of identity, despite who issued them, and the fact that they have both my UK address on them and a slightly dodgy photo of yours truly on. And I thought Spain could be a bit mad! So, resigned to the fact that I might have to pay my bank to issue me a statement, I go back to the bedroom to sift through the foot thick pile of papers I brought out with me on the off chance of finding something. Ten minutes in I come across some bits and pieces from the Halifax, a debit card and various bit of paper thanking me for choosing them, along with some offers for me to go into debt or maybe buy some life assurance. I only got the account re-opened because it had been mentioned to me that they do free international money transfers to Halifax Españia. It must have been the only account I hadn't changed to paperless, and there was a statement, just a few days short off being three months old, problem solved.

A few hours after me sending off my scan of the statement, an email came back saying my identity check had gone through ok, and I was ok to proceed, which I did. Personal details entered, along with debit card details and an email address, which I had to confirm, and I got my UK telephone number.  It took me about ten minutes to set up the VoIP box, and about the same with the phone, mainly due the instructions being in Spanish, but I got there. There are only two drawbacks to using it really, the first being it can be hard to make calls at tea time sometimes, the other is now friends and family have realised how easy and cheap it is, it never stops ringing! As they used to say in the BT advert, it's good to talk. But not that much! I suppose it's another one of those things that could have done with sorting before we moved out. It costs nothing to register for the service, and the setup works where ever you take it, as long as you have an Internet connection, they even do a smart phone application, but thats  not free. It would have been a lot easier to 'prove' who I was, as I still had some paper bills, so it would have been less stressful. A thought has just crossed my mind. When I go back to the UK for a week at Christmas, if I am passing Tesco and need to pop in for a few bits and want to pay by debit card, will I need to have both parents and my bank manager with me, and perhaps a letter from the Pope vouching for me?

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steveVoIP said:
22 January 2014 @ 14:51

Hi everyone. I use a company called Localcall Telecom. I have a UK number that my friends and family can call me on for free and I get free landline calls in Spain and UK. Its great because when I travel I don't pay roaming charges I use it in a wi fi area and its free. calls to UK mobiles only cost me 6 cents a minute too. Their number is 644 38 38 90.

I also have my office phones with them and use their free app on my phone. my bills have gone from over 500 a month to less than 85!!

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