I’ve been in Spain for a couple of days and I am glad that a number of people have told me about Yoigo, a new mobile operator in Spain, which offers Internet access via Prepaid SIMs. So here’s a report from my weekend with Yoigo and Madrid:
How To Get The SIM Card
Once in Madrid the first mission was to get a SIM card. According to the Wiki, Yoigo SIM cards are sold in "The Phonehouse" shops. So before my departure I checked the web page and located the shop closest to my hotel. Buying the SIM card only took a couple of minutes. The SIM cost €20 euros and included €20 worth in phone calls and Internet connectivity. The price per day for Internet connectivity is €1.20 (€1.36 with taxes) for 2G and 3G access. It doesn’t sound like a lot but if used every day it amounts to about €40 a month which is on par with what other operators offer as well. However, charing daily certainly offers the door to new market segments.
Some people reported that Yoigo only covers a few cities with 3G so far, but Madrid was fortunately part of the list.
Mobile Phone And Notebook Use
The first megabyte is billed by the kilobyte and all data traffic afterwards during that day is free. After each data session or phone call a USSD message reports usage and remaining credit. The picture on the left shows the message which reports a cost of €0.00 of a data session established after the first megabyte has been used. Previous reports were not quite clear if Yoigo requires the use of a proxy and otherwise blocks all other ports or if the connection is open and other services like eMail, etc. can be used as well. I can definitely confirm that the connection is open and I used the SIM for both web browsing, eMail and Shozu with the mobile phone and with the notebok to browse the web, check my eMails, Yahoo messenger, for IPSec VPN connections, etc.
Yoigo does not seem to have 3.5G HSDPA yet, as my phone just established plain UMTS 3G connections. While 3G comes nowhere near 3.5G HSDPA speeds, it’s nevertheless fast enough for most activities (384 kbit/s which equals about 45 kBytes/s). Unfortunately, Yoigo seems to have similar problems like Wind in Italy since I had a lot of IP layer retransmissions due to ‘duplicate acknowledgments" which indicate packet loss. I tried during different times during daytime and also nighttime but the problem persisted. Thus, it’s not a busy hour problem. I can also rule out terminal incompatibility as I saw the same behavior with a Motorola V3xx and a Nokia N93 in combination with a notebook. As a consequence web pages take somewhat longer load and file download performance is around 12 kByte/s instead of 45 kByte/s. Throughput peaks were at around 45 kBytes/s which indicates I got a 384 kbit/s bearer, while the low overall throughput is caused by the frequent retransmissions. The second picture on the left shows a pretty disastrous throughput graph of a file download.
I can’t say if this is a temporary problem or not since I’ve only been in Spain for a couple of days. If I lived in Spain, however, and the problem persisted it would definitely make me go to another operator. So I hope Yoigo takes a closer look and fixes the issue. If you like Wireshark traces of the issue, let me know 🙂
Despite the less than optimal performance I was quite happy with my Yoigo weekend experience in Madrid. In total I transferred about 60 MB during 4 days which is not much, but I have been on vacation after all 🙂 There are still about €13 of the initial €20 left on the SIM card which will probably be eaten up by the €6 per month minimum usage fees over the coming months. However, I hope that the SIM stays active till next February when I will probably come back to Spain for the Mobile World Congress (formerly the 3GSMWorldCongress) in Barcelona. Until then I hope Yogio will also have upgraded to HSDPA.