What’s The Internet in Madeira Like?

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Last updated on June 14, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you’re thinking about moving to Madeira, you may be wondering what the internet is like there? After all, the internet in mainland Portugal may be good but Madeira is a small Portuguese island that’s closer to Morocco than it is Portugal. In fact, Madeira is situated 967 km (601 miles) from Lisbon. 

The good news is that, like the Azores, Madeira has very good internet. The internet is more than good enough really: Madeira has recently become a hotspot for digital nomads, remote workers, and freelancers. If it’s good enough for people who work online, that shows that it’s going to be good enough for most activities like using Zoom, Netflix, and surfing the web.

Portuguese internet service providers MEO and NOS currently operate on the island of Madeira. 

Of course, as with all of Portugal, your internet options can vary from one property to the next. That’s why it’s so important to check that you can get fibre internet before you rent or buy an apartment. 

Cost of Internet in Madeira

The cost of fibre internet is ever-so-slightly cheaper on Madeira than it is on mainland Portugal. This is because IVA or VAT is 23% in Continental Portugal whereas it’s only 22% on Madeira. That single percentage point won’t make a huge difference, but it’s always a nice bonus to get something cheaper. 

Internet Speeds in Madeira

It is possible to get fibre internet with speeds of up to 1,000 mbps, particularly around Funchal. A few Airbnbs in Ponta do Sol, where the digital nomad village is located, also advertise speeds of 1,000 gbps (or 1 gbps). However, the average seems to be closer to 200-1000 mbps for downloads and 100-400 mbps for uploads, depending on the package the client chooses. 

What If You Can’t Get Fibre Internet

Fibre internet isn’t available throughout Madeira just yet. If an internet service provider (like MEO) is unable to offer fibre internet, they’ll offer satellite or 4G internet instead. What kind of speeds can you expect with this?

Telecommunications expert Fernando Mendes says it can be enough for most people. 

“In terms of speed, most operators will tell you that the speeds go up to 40 Mbps. However, when I tell clients what they can expect, I’m very down to earth and in reality you get an average of 10-15 GBPs. You have to be in a really good location to get more than that on a 4G connection.”

In practical terms, Fernando says that’s enough to stream videos on Netflix or YouTube and to work from. 

“You won’t have a problem having one person on it using YouTube and other streaming services but if you start to add more people, it might not be enough. Unfortunately, if you’re in a rural area and there’s no fibre available, that’s unfortunately all that’s available.” 

There can be a difference in speed between different satellite internet providers and that’s down to the quality of their mobile signal, since the internet is sent through mobile networks (just like with your phone). 

Fernando recommends doing a test before signing up with an internet service provider which you can do by ordering prepaid (or pay-as-you-go) sim cards and putting both into your phone to see which has better signal and which scores better on a speed test. It might be a little frustrating having to do this, but as home internet contracts in Portugal are typically for two years, this will be worth it.  

Short Term Internet Options

If you’re visiting Madeira for less than two years, the typical contract length in Portugal, there are a few options to consider. Some internet service providers, like MEO, will offer a one-year contract but this can work out quite expensive as it normally doesn’t include the cost of installation and equipment that the two-year contract does.

Another option is to get a mobile hotspot for around €30 per month as these work on a prepaid basis so there’s no contract. As this is mobile internet, you won’t get the same speeds as fibre and you may not get the same unlimited data (despite most providers advertising that they offer this). However, if you’re only in Madeira for a few months, it might be the best option.

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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.

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