In this article we'd like to highlight the situation with mobile communications and coverage in Portugal. Smartphones and mobile Internet play a great role in our daily life and if you are traveling a lot, it is better to know what's the situation with those in the country you plan to visit.
So, mobile Internet in Portugal is well developed and it covers almost the whole country. You may loose reception only in hollows or in other mountain regions. Mobile Internet works in three independent networks, they use 3G, 4G and GPRS. As you probably know GPRS is slowest, but you can use it in the most remote, rural areas.
Now a couple of words on frequencies, that are used in Portugal. They use the so called European GSM standard that works with 900/1800 MHz frequency. It is also used in Asia. That means that your American smartphone won't probably work there, because GMS 850/1900 is used in USA.
If you pal your voyage to Portugal, you should know that there are thousands of free, public Wi-Fi hotspots in major cities, such as Lisbon. For example, Lisbon has 21 garden, which are participating in the “Digital Garden” program, they have free Wi-Fi on all their territory.
But if you need your smartphone to work everywhere, you will have to use paid services. There are three major mobile carriers in Portugal, they are: Optimus, TMN and Vodafone. Those three provide the best quality and coverage among the others, and only those have their own GSM and 3G networks. Of course, there are lots of less reliable providers, which work under MVNO scheme.
Now, a couple of words on 4G. ANACOM – state regulatory authority in RF spectrum allocation provided major carriers (Optimus, TMN and Vodafone) with 4G licenses and they've started building their fourth generation networks. As you know, that technology allows to give users much faster mobile Internet and other services. But 4G is still poorly developed in Portugal. Portuguese 4G network will work with LTE standard, which has 875 MHz frequency, which is the most widely spread in the world. WiMAX standard, that is considered to be the 4G too is not so widely used.
Even before the license was given, TMN company has provided a couple of semi-4G services, which were using slightly enhanced 3G standards, such as HSDPA+. The speed is really faster than 3G, but is no the next generation. Also, TMN has provided a couple of smartphones and tablets for their fresh 4G network.
All of those major carriers stated that the minmal cost of 4G for their users will compile up to 50 euro per month and they will be able to provide up to 50 Mbit/sec data transmission speed, while the maximum speed in 4G network is 100 Mbit/sec.
Well, we can say that mobile communications, as well as the coverage are pretty well developed in Portugal. 4G networks will be built pretty quickly, because users tend to get best speeds they can. The situation with free Wi-Fi is OK too, so you'll be able to use your smartphone or a tablet in full scale!