You’re probably considering getting internet for your home but may not have considered that in Portugal broadband usually comes as a package (pacote) that also includes things like TV, a landline, and a mobile or cell phone contract (often called TV+Net+Voz+Móvel).
At this point, getting internet for your home may be your only concern, and although you can get an internet-only package, it can work out cheaper to get everything in a bundle, so it’s worth thinking about some of the other services that you’ll need in the future.
What providers are available?
The first thing that you need to work out is which internet service providers service your property and which of them, if any, offer fibre optic broadband. In Portugal, it’s not uncommon for a provider to offer their services on one street but not another. Similarly, you may find that broadband is available in your nearest town but not a few kilometres outside in the countryside.
One of the easiest ways to work out what options are available is to use our internet options checker. This is checked by an external engineer who manually checks the options and sends you an email to let you know.
Alternatively, you can go into the MEO, Vodafone, NOS, and NOWO shops and speak to someone (for those that don’t speak Portuguese fluently, this is usually easier than speaking to someone over the phone).
So, assuming you have found at least one provider that offers fibre broadband at your property, let’s think about what you might want in your pacote.
When choosing internet, the main consideration for most people is speed. Assuming fibre broadband is available at your property, most companies offer a range of speeds for example, 100 mbs, 200 mbs, 500 mbs, or 1 gbps. Naturally, 1 gbps or 1000 mbps is the fastest and also the most expensive.
Unless you’re into gaming or work from home in a role that requires you to upload or download a lot of information, most people won’t need 1 gbps. Of course, you can treat yourself to it if you want.
According to HighSpeedInternet.com, “a good target to aim for is 25 Mbps for each person in your household. So if you live with three people, then 100 Mbps is perfect for your home Wi-Fi” [source].
Mobile Phone (Móvel)
One of the main things to consider in your internet package is your mobile phone as combining a mobile phone in an internet package typically works out cheaper and offers better access to data than a prepay or pay-as-you-go sim. It’s also worth noting that you can combine more than one phone, so you could get a contract for your partner and even your kids as well.
Minutes are useful for calling your bank, hairdresser, or any other business in Portugal, but you’ll probably find you don’t use the texts that much. The most important thing for most people, of course, is data.
Data options range from as little as 250 MB to unlimited. Most people will probably want at least 4-5 GB of data, but 10 GB will give you a bit more flexibility.
While more and more people watch TV through Netflix or Amazon, many still like a range of channels included in their TV package. This is particularly useful for international news channels, childrens’ TV channels, and sports channels.
Unfortunately for Brits, your TV package is unlikely to include access to British TV channels or iPlayer. If you want to watch British TV, you’ll need to find another route such as by using a VPN. Americans tend to do better here as most of the international English-speaking channels are American.
You don’t need a special TV package to watch Portuguese TV channels like RTP 1 and 2, but you may find that you get a few more interesting options this way.
Most people can’t remember the last time they used a landline, so it can be strange to be told that your internet package includes a landline. And even though you might be tempted to simply unplug it, there’s a good reason to reconsider doing that (permanently, at least) and that’s international calls. Many internet packages include a telephone deal that includes some free or very cheap international calls.
As an expat, you’ll probably make quite a few calls to friends and family back home as well as to your bank, insurance companies, and any other companies you’re still tied to. You can keep in contact with friends and family through WhatsApp and you can phone companies affordably using Skype, but a phone line is probably going to offer better audio quality – particularly if you live in an area that only has basic internet access.
MEO’s packages, for example, typically include a select number of minutes (1,000 or around 16.5 hours) that can be used at night, either to fixed lines in Portugal or 50 international destinations. This includes most countries, the United States, and the United Kingdom.