In some regard I’m thankful I’ve only had to set up an internet connection in Spain three times as it’s always a test of will and you never know which Choose Your Own Adventure path will open up in front of you.
With Barcelona, it was our dream to not use Movistar (essentially a state monopoly of sorts born from Telefonica) and go with another provider who would theoretically be less monopoly-ish. The catch in doing this is that they (Telefonica) install a limited number of blocks in the cities. If the block to your building is full, then the only way to get internet is to go with Telefonica who will happily install one and then have you in their grasp. We tried several of the smaller providers only to be greeted by the same subcontractor technician who told us it wasn’t possible.
We could have actually have gotten fiber optic in that building except that our mole man of a neighbor who had all the annoyances of Cosmo Kramer while missing all of the comedy told the installers to go away one day when they showed up. I hope that nitwit continues to enjoy La Paradeta each summer.
Then came installation in Priorat where the options are far less numerous and thus, Telefonica was the only choice, especially as there was no line into the apartment. Thankfully, I had an adventurous installation technician who showed up day and gave a shit to make that happen so he clambered out on to the neighbor’s balcony and ran a line in. It worked amazingly well to the point where for the first month I had the line, I was worried it would light my place on fire or strangle me in my sleep as it had gone so easily.
It seems that this previous installation was to prepare me for my next one at the new house in the new village. As it is still in Priorat and there was no line installed, this again meant Telefonica’s Movistar. Things however, have changed in the year since I last signed up. For starters, they only allow signing up for fiber optic on the web. This doesn’t seem like an issue until you realize that there is no fiber optic in most of Priorat so attempting to sign up for it won’t have them come back to you with an option for ADSL. No, they just cancel the order for some unfathomable reason.
So, then you call Movistar to set an installation. The technician gets into a bit of foreplay with you via phone tag until one day he does show up. He look inside the house and then outside and then stares at you quixotically to say, “Where’s the connection from the inside of the house?” The simple answer I was to find out is that there was none. The previous owners had never installed the oh-so-crucial two meter link to bring a line from inside the house out to a non-existent box on the sidewalk which would then tie in with the main line.
Frustrated by this, I found out about a local internet provider called, Xeic who are slowly running fiber to one village after another in the Priorat and Ribera d’Ebre counties. As my village, Marçà is not yet with fiber service (despite Capçanes just 4km away being lit up) they offer very fast WiMax as well. So I called and a technician came out to evaluate this. He told me that sure, I could have it if I put a 3m pole up on the roof to clear the house in front of me blocking my line of sight to the antenna. This did not appeal as I know from past WiMax experience, whenever it gets windy, you lose the webby.
So back to the Movistar installation which meant calling a guy to tear up the sidewalk and put in a box. Ah, but there was no tube from inside the house so he had to tear up part of the wall as well. I felt pretty shitty at that moment seeing my new house being beat up but amazing, this guy put everything back so as you can pretty much not tell that anything was ever done. The magic of Spanish paletas.
I went for Round Two with Movistar, calling them for a new installation visit which was supposed to be on a Saturday morning. The technician never came. He never called. He just claimed that no one was home when he arrived which, if my dog had studied law, he would argue that this was most assuredly not the case as we stayed in all morning waiting for him.
I called back the next Monday for a new visit and then the guy on the phone told me that there was no order for installation and thus he could’t do anything. I then called later and went through the entire set up for a new line yet again for a new technician visit and this time, I received an email welcoming me to Movistar and letting me know my order number.
In this moment, I realized that I’ve been dealing with a rotten onion in terms of service via Movistar. Whether it’s because you can’t do everything through the web now or what, you have to peel back layer upon layer to arrive at just the right bit where you find freshness and make contact. There is it appears regular Movistar and then Deep Movistar which is a vast network of subcontractors who handle phones, orders, and provisioning. Get in the wrong one and you’re doomed. How do you know it’s the wrong one? You don’t. It just fails.
Ultimately, the technician finally showed up again and I helped him run new cable through a variety of tubes (it turns out that during the construction of my house they shredded the original service line and Telefonica installed a whole new one) and so we arrive here, with fully-functioning internet that, despite being a village of 600 people, in a county with a total of 9,000, if more than five times faster than what I had in San Francisco and less than half the cost.
Unsurprisingly, a few days after successful installation a woman from Movistar called me to arrange a technician visit. No, this wasn’t a check up or anything like this, but a visit to install internet again–on a Saturday. I told her that everything is installed, functioning, I’m happy, and for the love of god, don’t do anything to screw this up. She insists and said he could come at 10 and I said fine. Then, two minutes later, she called me back saying, “tienes razon” (a phrase I only learned maybe two years ago means, “you’re right” as literally “you have reason” makes no sense) and that there were two orders in the system despite one being completed and the other supposedly having been cancelled. We laughed, said we’d exchange Christmas gifts, keep in touch, and that was that.
Viva España y viva el internet.