Like most countries Portugal has plenty of mobile phone and internet providers, but you still have to be careful which one you choose in order to get decent reception and overall value for money.
Our phones are unlocked so whichever country we go to we always pick up a pre-paid simcard. The best options we have come across in Portugal (for use between the two of us) is Moche; a subsidiary of TMN which gives us free calls and texts to other Moche users, along with very low costs to TMN users.
According to most phone sellers we’ve spoken to, Moche provides the best compromise between cost and reception and everywhere we’ve been so far our phones have had signal.
You can top the credit up at certain phone shops and newsagents, or, if you have a Portuguese bank account you can recharge them at an ATM.
For mobile internet we have two different dongles and providers; TMN and Kanguru Optimus. The principle is that if one dongle is weak or without signal, the other should work.
Both dongles cost the same, €9.95 but the TMN came with €5.00 worth of credit whereas the Kanguru came with only €1.
Prepaid mobile internet in Portugal works a little differently in that you pay for time rather than bandwidth which has pros and cons. If you’re a heavy user (for work perhaps) then it will get quite costly each month. One hour of use costs €1.00 so if you’re going to need to use it a lot then you may want to explore some of Vodafone’s deals.
The plus side is that you can abuse your dongle as much as you want; make Skype calls, download things, stream video, etc without racking up a massive amount of expense.
One problem I have encountered with both dongles is that they don’t work with Linux (Ubuntu 12.04). There are forums available but I haven’t been able to fix mine on the Linux notebook as yet.
So far both dongles have worked very well and the Portuguese 3G networks are very fast and efficient.
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