Mobile communications in Spain was first presented in 1976 and began with the so called automobile radio phone, which was developed and supported by Telefónica company. We should admit that the market of mobile communications was created by that company and all its features are the result of Telefónica's activity. It was a monopolist until 1994 and the only telecommunications company on the market.
That company was founded in 1924 and still holds the top position on the market. Its share in the telecom market is 75%. If to consider mobile communications, its market share is 41%. Nowadays, Telefónica provides cell phone service and communications under the Movistar trademark. In 1995, a company named Airtel-Vodafone has entered Spanish mobile communications market and in 1998 Amena-Orange joined them too. And in 2006, when the market became really competitive – Yoigo. And since 2001 lots of virtual mobile carriers has appeared in Spain, which were using mobile networks of the existing carriers.
According to the statistical data, in December 2011 the quantity of active mobile users in Spain reached the point of 58 million people, 42% of the population use prepaid GSM services and 58% for the postpaid. Mobile carriers of Spain has built a decent GSM network, which covers 98% of the country. As for the mobile communications standards, Spain uses the widely spread European GSM standard on 900/1800 MHz frequency. Also, major mobile carriers provide 3G services with UMTS and WCDMA standards, which use 2100 MHz frequency.
Now, a couple of words about mobile carriers in Spain. At the moment, there are 4 major mobile carriers, which have their own GSM network and a decent coverage. They are Movistar, Vodafone, Orange and Yoigo.
We've already mentioned virtual carriers. Their market share in Spain is 4.9% of the market, or 2.7 millions of users. There are nearly 40 of such carriers in Spain, they do not have their own network and they use the infrastructure of one of those major carriers. They sell their services under their own trademarks.
There are two kinds of mobile service in Spain: prepaid and postpaid. They are called Contract “Contrato” and Card “Tarjeta”. The Card option is in fact a prepaid option. You will have to pay fro the service before you use it and the payment can be made with special terminals or various e-payments.
A Contract for mobile service is being signed for 12-18 months, it depends on the carrier and the option, you've chosen. In that case, client is obliged to provide the carrier with the data on his bank account, for which mobile carrier will send invoices monthly. You should know that Contract option os available to residents only, and only in case you have a bank account in the local Spanish bank.
As a conclusion we may say that Spain has built its mobile communications networks really fast and the big quantity of mobile carriers works for the benefits of consumers, because more competition means lower prices.