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Internet in Portugal: Getting Your Home Connected to Fibre Broadband

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Last updated on February 29, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 13 minutes

If you’re moving to Portugal, one of the questions you may have is: what’s the internet like there? And, secondly: is it expensive?

Fibre optic broadband (called internet fixa or banda larga) is available throughout Portugal, and according to our own research, 76% of Portugalist readers have been able to get it at their property. The remaining 24%, unfortunately, have to rely on satellite or mobile internet.

Use the form below to check you can get internet at your property. It’s a good idea to do this before renting or buying in Portugal.

Thankfully, fibre is available in towns and cities and increasingly throughout most of Portugal. Broadband or fibre optic internet typically offers speeds of up to 1 gbps, which is in line with most European countries, but some parts of the country can even get 10 gbps (expect 8 gbps in reality). Traffic is always unlimited, although there are restrictions if you abuse your account.

In short, internet in Portugal is as good as anywhere else in Europe or North America while also being cheaper (see below for sample prices). In fact, most people moving from the US note that the internet in Portugal is much better than what they are able to get in the US—and far cheaper too!

The cost varies depending on the package you choose (e.g. if you add a mobile phone) but for a typical plan with a landline and TV, you can expect to pay around:

SpeedCostTrafficMore Info
200 mbps€38.99UnlimitedClick Here
500 mbps€41.99UnlimitedClick Here
1,000 mbps (1 gbps)€45.99UnlimitedClick Here
10 gbps€101.00UnlimitedClick Here
(Prices are for mainland Portugal. In the Azores and Madeira, prices are slightly cheaper as VAT is less. In mainland Portugal it’s 23%, in Madeira it’s 22%, and in the Azores it’s 16%).

However, the speeds and options depend a lot on the location – and sometimes the very specific location of your house or apartment. Here are some important things to know.

  • Generally speaking, fibre is available in most towns and cities in Portugal. Where fibre is available, you can expect to get up to 1 gbps.
  • Even if broadband internet is available in your postcode, it may not necessarily be available at your property. It’s not uncommon for a town to have internet, but for the cables to only reach akilometre or two outside of the town.
  • Similarly, an internet service provider (e.g. Vodafone, MEO, or NOS) might offer their services on one street within a town or city but not necessarily the next street along.
  • Usually in an apartment block, you’ll only have a choice of one ISP (internet service provider). It’s rare to get a choice of all three.

The cable instalment seems to be pretty tough even in Coimbra city center. I and my wife have recently relocated here from Tokyo metropolitan area, Japan. The first thing we did here was to seal the contract with one of tele-com companies here. We had waited more than three months in vain. They abruptly informed us the cable is not available around my area, shutting out our 4G mobile connectivity altogether. We wish we could have read this information much earlier.

Takashi (Portugalist reader)

If fibre isn’t available at your particular address, you’ll normally be able to get a 4g connection of some sort or, potentially, Starlink. Depending on the location, 4g can be perfectly suitable for browsing, streaming videos, and phone calls over Skype, WhatsApp, or Zoom, but fibreopic broadband is always more reliable and the better option.

So, despite the generally great coverage Portugal has, it’s a good idea to research what internet options are available before renting or buying a property. There are a few ways to do that.

What Speed Do I need?

200 mbps versus 500 mbps might not mean a lot to you, but thankfully Fernando explains it in simple terms, why he recommends at least 500 mbps.

200 mb is enough for normal usage, particularly if it’s just 2-3 people in a property, but when you subscribe to the 500 mb or 1,000 mb package, you get a better quality router which has a better performance. It can also help to be on a faster speed internet (and better quality router) when you have friends and family visiting, such as at Christmas, as you really notice the difference in quality when you have lots of people on the same network. 

The difference in cost between the 200 mb and 500 mb packages is typically around €3, so it’s worth going for the slightly faster package to have peace of mind.

What about 10 gbps internet, which is ten times as fast as the fastest internet option in most countries? This is much more than most people will need, however, with 10 gig upload and download speeds, this could be perfect for those that work with large files, such as video or graphics editors.

10 gbps is only available in certain cities, including Aveiro, Beja, Braga, Bragança, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Évora, Faro, Guarda, Leiria, Lisbon, Portalegre, Porto, Santarém, Setúbal, Viana do Castelo, Vila Real and Viseu. It’s also worth noting that it typically works out at 8 gbps in reality, as discussed in this webinar.

The Different Providers

In Portugal, there are three main providers which offer fibre-optic internet as well as other solutions like 4G satellite internet:

  • MEO (pronounced mayo)
  • NOS (pronounced (nawsh)
  • Vodafone

Which internet service provider is best? Fernando says the best option is the one that can offer you fibre, but otherwise there aren’t big differences between the ISPs. He typically recommends newcomers to Portugal go with MEO, however.

If you’re renting or have just moved to Portugal, I typically recommend that people go with MEO. MEO is the biggest network in terms of size and network availability. It has around 80-90% of the fibre infrastructure.

The reason I suggest MEO is because you might decide to leave that property in six or 12 months and buy or rent a new property. Because you’re on a two-year contract – and this is recommended – you’ll ideally want to bring your current connect to the next place. MEO, as the largest operator, is the company that’s most likely to have internet at your next property. 

If you’re buying and you know that you’re likely to be in the property for at least two years, you have more flexibility to pick any of the operators (MEO, NOS, or Vodafone).

There’s also NOWO, which is often cheaper, however they offer coaxial-cable fibre, which tends to fluctuate more in speed than the other providers. In the Algarve, there is also a small Algarve-focused provider called Lazer, which offers fibre around Faro and the Eastern Algarve but only covers a small portion of the region.

The only provider that I’m a little cautious about is NOS because even though they advertise as having fibre in certain areas, sometimes that’s fibre with a coaxial cable, and the speed can drop a little bit with this.

Choosing your package

In Portugal, it’s common to get an internet package or bundle that includes other things like TV, a mobile phone contract, and a landline. You may only be thinking about internet right now, but it is worth considering some of these other options.

Here’s why:

  • Packages typically include free international calls from a landline, and in the case of the US this is both to landlines and cellphones. That means you can call people without having to worry about internet quality or have to teach your friends and family how to use Skype or Zoom.
  • Getting a mobile phone contract in the same package as your home internet is typically cheaper.
  • You can put multiple family members on the same plan, which not only saves money but can increase the data allowance per person as well.

It also makes sense to put everyone in the same family on the same plan. Let’s suppose you get home internet and a sim card with 10 gb of data and you request sim cards for four members of your family. Instead of each of those four people getting 10 gb of data each, the operators normally multiply the requested data by the number of people on the plan. So in this case, everybody would get 40 gb of internet but would pay as if they were paying for 10 gb of data per month.  

Should you get a phone contract or just a pre-pay sim? If you’re signing up for a home internet contract anyway, you might as well sign up for a mobile phone contract. This is especially important if you want data that’s genuinely unlimited and want to take advantage of that multiplier if you’re adding multiple family members to one plan.

There are prepaid plans being sold as unlimited, but some of them limit the speed after you’ve used 100 gb or 200 gb of data. If you’re looking for unlimited speed and data, getting a contract is the best way forward. 

Contracts

Two years is the standard contract length in Portugal. You can get a shorter contract – MEO offers a one-year contract, for example – but for shorter contracts, the tariffs are higher and the setup fee isn’t usually included, which can make them quite expensive. If you opt for a two-year contract and decide to move after a year or so, you have a few options:

  • You can move your existing contract to your new address (the price might change slightly, and there maybe be an installation fee of around €25-50, but you won’t pay an exit penalty. Your two-year contract will, however, start again).
  • You can ask the new tenants or owners to take on the contract.
  • You can continue to pay (which may be cheaper than paying an exit penalty).

You will need

To get internet installed in Portugal, you will normally need three things:

  1. An address (either somewhere you’re living in or somewhere you’re moving to)
  2. Proof of that address (e.g. rental contract, sales deed, utility bill, or promissory contract)
  3. A NIF or Número de Identificação Fiscal (Don’t have this? Read more about getting a NIF here)
  4. A Portuguese bank account (Don’t have this? Read more about getting a Portuguese bank account here)

It is possible to use a non-Portuguese bank account and pay by IBAN or pay manually but this is usually more hassle and adds a few euros to the monthly fee.

Help! I Can’t Get Fibre Internet At My Property

It’s always a good idea to check that you can get fibre internet at a property before renting or buying anywhere. Don’t assume that it will be available. Although fibre coverage in Portugal is good, there are lots of parts of rural Portugal where fibre broadband isn’t available yet.

Many properties are only able to get home internet through a 4G connection which comes in through a receiver that’s placed on the outside of the property. This is usually faster than the internet you will get through your phone or through a dongle as the box is larger and, because it sits on the outside of the property, isn’t obstructed by walls.

According to telecommunications agent Fernando Mendes, if you can only get internet this way, it’s a good idea to check the signal quality before signing up for a contract with any one company. Ideally, you should get a sim card from MEO, Vodafone, and NOS to see which company has the best signal and then sign up with that company for your home internet. At the very least, check the coverage maps to see which networks have the best coverage in your area.

More flexible options

If you aren’t a heavy internet user, you may find that a mobile WIFI hotspot is good enough for browsing the net, WhatsApp calls, and watching Netflix. These boxes, available from Vodafone or NOS for example, cost around €30 per month or €15 for 15 days (+ the cost of the portable router). As well as use them at home, you can take them with you when you’re out and about. There’s no contract and you simply recharge every month (you can also buy up credit in advance).

Improving your connection

Getting internet installed is sometimes only part of the equation, particularly if you live in an old, rural property. These properties can be quite large and often have thick stone walls, which means that your wifi signal may not travel throughout the property. It’s a problem you can tackle once you have internet installed, but just be aware that you may need to purchase another piece of technology like a wifi repeater to ensure the wifi reaches distant rooms.

FAQs

By law, the operators are allowed to raise their prices once per year in line with inflation. Historically, these operators haven’t raised their prices most years but do from time to time. 

Will the staff at the internet companies speak English?

English is widely spoken in Portugal. If you speak to someone who doesn’t speak English, they will hopefully pass you onto a colleague who speaks English.

Which internet service provider is best?

As long as you’re able to get fibre at your address, there isn’t really a difference in quality. The best company is the one that’s able to provide fibre-optic internet so you don’t have to rely on mobile or satellite internet.

Will my monthly cost be fixed?

By law, the operators are allowed to raise their prices once per year in line with inflation. Historically, these operators haven’t raised their prices most years but do from time to time. In 2023, prices were raised with inflation, however.

How long does it Take for Internet to be installed?

According to Fernando Mendes, in big cities it takes around 2-3 days. In somewhere like Lisbon, it might even possible to get it installed on the same day. However, assume 2-3 days in urban areas and no more than a week in rural areas.

There is one issue that could delay the installation and that’s if the technician visits the connection box and discovers that all of the slots are being used. As the box now needs to be expanded, it could take 1-2 weeks for that to happen. This is, of course, only in the event that the ISP hasn’t updated their records about which slots are being used.

Can I use a foreign bank account?

MEO does allow foreign bank accounts, but NOS requires a Portuguese bank account. According to Portugalist reader Luca, Vodafone do accept foreign bank accounts but getting it set up is complicated.

For MEO, you need to have an IBAN (International Bank Account Number), which means you can’t use a US bank account. You can also use a Wise or Revolut account as these bank accounts have IBANs. 

Sources

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James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.