Communications

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Communications

Internet

Internet access via Wi-Fi is available in all Barcelona hotels. In addition, many cafés and bars are Internet hot spots and have signs indicating it in their windows. Easy Internet Café near the top of the Rambla is one of the city's most complete and convenient cybercafés, with 300 computers available from 8:30 am to 2:30 am daily.

Another, smaller solution is the art gallery–cum–Internet café bcnet, surrounded by medieval stone and offering everything from email checking to video conferences until 1 am. Idea, which also has a bookstore, is a chill place for drafting email.

An important piece of computer gear to pack is the adapter that translates flat-edged plugs or triple plugs to round dual ones. Most Internet cafés have no equipment to get your laptop online, but Wi-Fi technology is common throughout Barcelona.

Computer Supplies and Services

GeoMac (606/308932. .)

Cybercafé Resources

Cybercafes. Cybercafes lists more than 4,000 Internet cafés worldwide. www.cybercafes.com.

Travel Bar (Boqueria 27, Barri Gòtic, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 93/410–8592.)

bcnet (Barra de Ferro 3, Born-Ribera, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08003. 93/268–1507.)

Cafe Internet Navego (Provença 546, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08025. 93/436–8459.)

Crepsi. Internet café. Carrer Rosselló 227, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08008. 93/415–3677.

Friends on Line (Carrer Còrsega 197, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08036. 93/363–0754.)

Phones

Calling from a hotel is almost always the most expensive option; hotels usually add huge surcharges to all calls. In some countries you can phone from call centers or even the post office. Calling cards usually keep costs to a minimum, but only if you purchase them locally. And then there are mobile phones, which are usually a much cheaper option than calling from your hotel.

The country code for Spain is 34. To phone home from Spain, 00 gets you an international line; country codes are 1 for the United States and Canada, 61 for Australia, 64 for New Zealand, and 44 for the United Kingdom.

Calling Within Spain

Spain's telephone system is efficient, and direct dialing is the norm everywhere. Only cell phones conforming to the European GSM standard will work in Spain.

All Spanish area codes begin with a 9; for instance, Barcelona is 93 and Bilbao is 94. The 900 code indicates a toll-free number. Numbers starting with a 6 indicate a cellular phone; note that calls to cell phones are significantly more expensive.

For general information in Spain, dial 1-18-18. The operator for international information and assistance is at 1-18-25 (some operators speak English). Barcelona information of all kinds, including telephone information, is available by dialing 010, where many operators speak English.

Calls within Spain require dialing 8, 9, or 10 digits (beginning with a 2- or 3-digit regional code), even within the same area code.

Making a long-distance call within Spain simply requires dialing the 8, 9, or 10-digit number including the provincial area code and number.

Between phone booths in the street (ask for a cabina telefónica) and public phones in bars and restaurants, telephone communication in Spain functions as well as anyplace in the world. Many phones have digital readout screens, so you can see your money ticking away. If using coins, you need at least €0.20 for a local call, €1 to call another province. Pick up the phone, wait for the dial tone, and only then insert coins before dialing. Rates are reduced on weekends and after 8 pm on weekdays.

Calling Outside Spain

International calls are easiest from public pay phones using a phone card. The best way to phone home is to use a public phone that accepts phone cards (available from tobacconists and most newsagents) or go to the local telephone office or locutorio, a phone center. The best thing about the locutorio is the quiet, private booth. If the call costs more than €5, you can often pay with Visa or MasterCard.

To make an international call yourself, dial 00, then the country code, then the area code and number. Ask at a tourist office for a list of locutorios and Internet centers that include phone service.

Before you go, find out your long-distance company's access code in Spain.

Access Codes

AT&T (900/990011.)

MCI WorldPhone (900/990014.)

Sprint International Access (900/990013.)

Calling Cards

Pay phones work with a phone card (tarjeta telefónica), of which there are several varieties that you can buy at any tobacco shop (Tabac) or newsagent. The Euro Hours Card, sold at many tobacco shops for €6, gives three hours of international phone calls.

Mobile Phones

If you have a multiband phone (some countries use different frequencies from what's used in the United States) and your service provider uses the world-standard GSM network (as do T-Mobile, Cingular, and Verizon), you can probably use your phone abroad. Roaming fees can be steep, however. And overseas you normally pay the toll charges for incoming calls. It's almost always cheaper to send a text message than to make a call, since text messages have a low set fee (often less than 5¢). To avoid roaming fees completely, select airplane mode or turn off data roaming until you are in a Wi-Fi hot spot, where you can check email or use the Web at much lower costs (often free). If you were to do either while roaming, your bill would show it: an email with a five-megapixel photo, for example, would require your phone to download about 2 megabytes of data at a cost of about $20 per MB from either Verizon or AT&T.

If you just want to make local calls, consider buying a new SIM card (note that your provider may have to unlock your phone for you to use a different SIM card) and a prepaid service plan in the destination. You'll then have a local number and can make local calls at local rates. If your trip is extensive, you could also simply buy a new cell phone in your destination, as the initial cost will be offset over time.

Cell Phone Rentals

Telecon Iberica (93/228–9110.)

Rent A Phone (Numancia 212, Barcelona, 08017. 93/280–2131.)

Contacts

Cellular Abroad. Cellular Abroad rents and sells GMS phones and sells SIM cards that work in many countries. 800/287–5072. www.cellularabroad.com.

Mobal. Mobal rents mobiles and sells GSM phones (starting at $49) that will operate in 140 countries. Per-call rates vary throughout the world. 888/888–9162. www.mobalrental.com.

Planet Fone. Planet Fone rents cell phones, but the per-minute rates are expensive. 888/988–4777. www.planetfone.com.

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