Why is internet connection in Andorra interesting? As everyone knows, Andorra is located in the middle of the Pyrenees between France and Spain. It is therefore understandable that such a location is poorly accessible. For this reason, the Principality has been trying for many years connect in all possible ways with the outside, internationally.
For it Andorra has two land accesses: the border with France through Pas de la Casa in the northeast of the country and the border with Spain in Sant Julià de Lòria, in the south of the country. Its air accesses are El Prat International Airport in Barcelona, about 200 km away from the country, Blagnac Airport in Toulouse, located about 200km and Lleida-Alguaire Airport, in Lleida, about 160km.
In addition, it has three projects underway for the future:
- Enable the La Seo de Urgel aerodrome, the first town after the Spanish border Spain located 7 km from it, so that it can take in private, commercial and passenger jet flights with few crew members, and connect it with the main airports in Europe, obviously starting with those of France and Spain (Barcelona and Toulouse).
- Construction of a heliport in Andorra, within the country and with an international vocation, to connect the Principality of Andorra with Barcelona and Toulouse.
- Negotiations and studies for the construction of a future airport already within the country, with full reception of flights of full crew of the main international airlines.
However, there is a very important and relevant connection in the current times, and on which the Principality has made the greatest progress in recent years: the digital connection. And it is that while the authorization of physical accesses is slow and costly due to the need to build colossal infrastructures and draft security measures, and even more given the poor geographical accessibility of the country, improve the digital connection it is relatively easier and much less expensive.
So, in this article we are going to see what are the most important changes and reforms, the measures that Andorra has taken to become a pioneer of the technological revolution and the digital transformation that the Internet has brought about.
Andorra's digital bet, ‘smart country’
Starting with a bit of history, the Principality was already a leader in 2007 in the telecommunications sector by providing digital terrestrial television throughout the country, thus leading the blackout of analog TV. On the other hand, in 2006 it decidedly opted for the technology of laser light pulses, the well-known fiber optics, and until 2013 they enabled the necessary infrastructure to connect the whole country with symmetric 100 Mbps fiber optic, reaching all homes in the territory regardless of their location, leaving the entire country wired.
The development of broadband did not stop there, as this transformation is reinforced by government regulations, which as of 2011, established access to internet as “a universal service», at a reasonable basic price, for the entire country and with a speed of 100 Mbps per fiber optic. It should be noted the greatness of the feat guarantee the connection in any nucleus with permanent population in a country marked by the dispersion of the population in small cities and towns, the mountain orography and the steep slopes.
Thus, after the deployment of a network of 79,000 kilometers of fiber optics in the 468 square kilometers of the country and following its firm commitment to connectivity in 2014, the total disconnection of ADSL and in December 2016 all copper telephony lines and their infrastructure were eliminated in a process that lasted a year and a half.
Since then, the country's telephone and telecommunications company, Andorra Telecom, has been updating the platform and renewing the active network, routers and facilities that users have at home / premises, with collaborations and agreements with Huawei, the leading telecommunications giant in fiber optics.
Internet in Andorra: fiber optic
The result was that the Principality already had a connection of up to 300 Mbps symmetrical in 2017, and finally in 2018 to 700 Mbps symmetric. Currently you can have up to 1GB symmetrical, and at a fairly affordable price. This is certainly a great advantage for those who need a professional, stable and fast internet connection to work or sell their services, such as youtubers, streamers or content creators in general the brokers, traders or financial agents or e-commerce businesses. Specifically, there are three internet connection rates for home or business premises, which you can check here:
- fee up to 300 Mbps for €25 per month
- fee up to 700 Mbps for €35 per month
- fee up to 1 Gbps for €42 per month
The latter is the most recommended if going to create a company in Andorra and to make intensive use of the connection, for example by performing live streaming or playing video games online. The Mbps are symmetrical and they also have a lot of telecommunications services for companies that demand large volumes, they can consult everything on the web. Lastly, it also offers Seasonal internet, for those temporary workers requiring only a few months of service.
Mobile phone and television
The application of the Internet as an essential and universal service does not remain only in fiber optics, but extends to the rest of the basic lines of telecommunications. Fixed and mobile telephony services, from the copper blackout, also work through the fiber optic network and also do it with great efficiency. In the case of mobile telephony, the 4G coverage of almost the entire territory, specifically 98%. Thus, you can go hiking or get lost in the Andorran Pyrenees and stay connected, as the penetration of 4G is absolute.
Mobile network services are offered in variants of prepaid and contract. Prepaid cardsare used and are recommended for tourists or visitors to the Principality, as we must remember that THERE IS NO ROAMING OR ROUTING BY DEFAULT IN ANDORRA. Before traveling, we recommend follow these tips to optimize your trip, taking special care with mobiles, data and calls within the country.
mobile phone rates
Contract cards, on the other hand, they are recommended for residents who live or go to live in Andorra, as prepaid cards are expensive in the long run, especially for international calls. As we can see, the rate can be customized quite a bit, going like European clothing sizes from the XXS rate, which includes almost nothing, to the XXL with everything included. Here is the specific list:
- XS rate, for €5.50/month. Includes 200MB of national mobile internet data (Andorra only), 20 minutes of national calls and 30 SMS (from anywhere). As we can see, it is a rate that is almost useless not even for WhatsApp.
- Rate S, for €16/month. This is already a little more "serious". 6GB of national mobile internet, 300 minutes of national calls, 30 minutes of international calls and 100 SMS. It only serves you to have service in Andorra.
- Rate M, for €26/month: the most frequent and recommended. It has 30GB of national mobile internet, a flat rate for national calls, 300 minutes of international calls and 100 SMS. Nevertheless, you can add more such as 30GB more for €10 extra, €4 more for 300 extra minutes or €4 more so that the 30GB of the rate can also be used for Spain, France and Portugal. That is why it is the most recommended, because for €30 a month you have at least a real rate.
- Rate L, for €56/month. Includes 100GB of mobile internet data and flat rate on everything else. In addition, for €10 more you also double the rate (100GB extra) and for €12 more those 100GB are used for practically all of Europe.
Television: exclusive channels
Own television is also broadcast through fiber optics, distributing a total of 174 channels. Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) is free and includes Spanish DTT channels (such as Antena 3, La Sexta, Cuatro, Telecinco, La 1, La 2, Teledeporte, etc) and French (ARTE, France 2, France 3, TV5Monde, C8, etc.), international channels (BBC, Euronews, CNN, etc.), Andorran national television (ATV) and proximity channels such as TV3, Esport3, 3/24, and some more. Of course, the quality is normal, HD channels are not given for free.
Despite this, Andorra Telecom offers a wide variety of television packages. The package called «Mini», for example, includes all the basic Spanish, French and Andorran channels. Then you also have the entire offer of Movistar exclusively, all the packages: from Movistar + Selección to Movistar + Total Plus. As if that were not enough, there is also a special MotoGP package, one from Mezzo, one exclusive to watch Playboy TV and one last to watch Hunting and Fishing HD. You can check all packages and TV channels included here.
Free wifi for tourists
Finally, it should be noted that Andorra Telecom has enabled, together with Huaweii, a free wifi network covering the main commercial and common areas of the country. These areas include ski resorts, streets of the main towns, public buildings (like Comuns and libraries) and shopping centers like the River. Also many other private venues (restaurants, hotels and aparthotels, entertainment venues, pubs, shops, etc.) have Wi-Fi and a private internet connection with a password.
The objective is to allow public connection to tourists and thus guarantee a better experience and visit to the eight million visitors that the country receives annually. You can check some of the free wifi spots here searching for "wifi", although there are several commercial stores that also offer free connection and do not appear on that list. You can also visit the website Andorra Wifi.
It is important to note that THESE FREE WIFI POINTS ARE NOT SECURE. They should not send sensitive data through these networks such as personal data, passwords, identification numbers, credit cards, bank details, etc. Being a public and open network, tracking data is tremendously easy. Only use it in an emergency, to search and orient yourself, little more.
Our advice for tourists is to put a free Wi-Fi point (for example Parc Central, where they can park quietly) as their address in their car or mobile's GPS, to turn the device off and back on before reaching the border Andorran (thus having the card blocked) and do not activate the card with the PIN until you leave the country. They can also use the Wi-Fi of the hotel in question if they are going directly there, putting the hotel's address in the GPS and deactivating the mobile phone at the border.
5G activation is starting
In October, during the Andorra la Vella Fair, Andorra Telecom announced the 5G activation in mobiles compatible with this technology and it does so from the hand of the current provider of the mobile phone network, the Swedish multinational Ericsson. At first 5G will be available only in the centers of each parish, but later it will be expanded to connect all the parishes. In this initial phase, new antennas will not be installed, but existing ones will be configured in order to offer higher connection speeds.
As with 4G, to implement 5G, each mobile manufacturer must approve the network where they want to make use of the mobile terminals that they have manufactured. The first terminals that can be enjoyed this December will be those of the Xiaomi, Huawei and Sony brands that are compatible with 5G. In the first half of 2022 it is expected to be able to offer it to Apple and Samsung mobiles.
The demand for faster connectivity increases every day. 5G is the technology that responds to this need, offering users the advantages of high speed. Currently there are 90,000 mobile phones in Andorra. In June 2020, only 107 mobiles were 5G but currently, there are already 3,000 that are 5G and this number is expected to increase after the Christmas holidays, with the mobile terminal changes that users usually make.
Lastly, we remind you that at Abast Global we offer professional services to settle in Andorra. Whether opening a company in Andorra, residing or living in the Principality, changing the headquarters of your business... anything. Contact us here. We individualize your case, solve your doubts and we provide comprehensive support throughout the process and during its installation in the country. Can read our main services here.