Step into the realm of Portugal’s mobile telecommunications scene as we reveal the top three operators that reign supreme. Whether you’re a local searching for the best connectivity or a visitor in need of reliable communication, this blog post will guide you towards the ultimate choice.
Table of Contents
I. List of Portugal Mobile Operators
1. Main Portugal Mobile Operators
|Operator||Ownership||Year established||Subscribers in Portugal||Mobile services|
|Vodafone||Vodafone Group plc.||1983||5.9 million||Mobile phone services, mobile broadband services, TV services, landline services|
|MEO||Altice Portugal||2000||5.4 million||Mobile phone services, mobile broadband services, TV services, landline services|
|NOS||NOS SGPS, S.A.||1975||5.2 million||Mobile phone services, mobile broadband services, TV services, landline services|
2. Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) in Portugal
In addition to these main operators, there are numerous Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) that rent network access from the major providers and sell service under their own brand. Some examples include:
- Lycamobile is the largest MVNO in Portugal. It operates on the Vodafone network and offers prepaid SIM cards with international calling plans.
- Moche is a mobile brand that operates on the Meo network. It targets youth customers and offers postpaid plans.
- Phone-ix is an MVNO that operates on the Meo network. It offers both prepaid and postpaid plans with no-frills options. Its current status is listed as unknown.
- UZO is a mobile brand of MNO TMN that operates on the Meo network. It offers prepaid plans targeting no-frills customers.
- Yorn is a mobile brand of MNO Vodafone that operates on its network. It offers both prepaid and postpaid plans targeting community-focused customers.
II. Best Portugal Mobile Operators – Detailed Comparison
To give a more in-depth look at the top choices, here is a detailed feature comparison of the main 3 mobile network operators in Portugal:
|Coverage||4G LTE covers >98% of population||4G LTE covers >95% of population||4G LTE covers >96% of population|
|Max Speeds||Up to 300 Mbps downloadUp to 50 Mbps upload||Up to 375 Mbps downloadUp to 75 Mbps upload||Up to 500 Mbps downloadUp to 75 Mbps upload|
|English Support||English website, chat and call support available||English website and call support||English website, chat and call support|
|Prices and Plans||€30/month for 20GB dataPrepaid options available||€20/month for 10GB dataPrepaid options available||€25/month for 15GB dataPrepaid options available|
|Roaming||Roaming in 47destinations||Roaming in 53 destinations||Roaming in 49 destinations|
|EU calling||100 free minutes to EU||Unlimited calls to EU||300 free minutes to EU|
|Perks||Data gifting, some free streaming||Data gifting||Data gifting, WiFi calling|
All three major operators offer excellent nationwide 4G LTE coverage though Vodafone has a slight edge in maximum speeds. English support is available from all three.
NOS tends to offer some of the lowest monthly prices for data packages. But MEO and Vodafone have competitive options as well. For roaming, NOS includes the most destinations while Vodafone offers the most free EU calling minutes.
Overall, the right choice comes down to your specific usage needs. But all three networks deliver high-quality mobile service across Portugal.
III. Where to Buy SIM Card from Portugal Mobile Operators?
There are several options to purchase a SIM card from the major Portuguese operators:
- Online – All providers offer SIM purchase and delivery through their websites. Provides convenience but no in-person help.
- Airport kiosks – Arriving in Portugal, find SIM card kiosks at the Lisbon, Porto, and Faro airport arrival areas. Staff can assist and set up service.
- Operator stores – Visit official branded stores run by MEO, NOS and Vodafone located in major cities. Get help choosing and activating service.
- Authorized resellers – Look for authorized agent locations that sell SIM cards on behalf of operators. Offer added convenience.
- Supermarkets – Some supermarkets like Continente may have MEO, NOS and Vodafone SIM cards available.
When purchasing, you’ll need to provide your passport as identification. Make sure to compare plans and pricing at different outlets.
IV. Do Portugal Mobile Operators Offer eSIM?
For those traveling to Portugal, using an eSIM provides a convenient alternative to buying a physical SIM card. An eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a digital SIM built into supported smartphones that allows users to activate mobile plans without needing to swap nano-SIM cards.
All four major carriers in Portugal offer some level of eSIM compatibility. However, there are important factors for visitors to consider before directly signing up with a provider. Among the major Portuguese operators:
- Vodafone: Offers eSIM service on compatible Apple and Android devices. Plans must be signed up for online.
- MEO: If using MEO prepaid for the first time, an initial physical SIM is needed. Carrier plans provide a Portuguese phone number, but visitors typically want to keep their existing foreign number.
- NOS only allows purchasing an eSIM by visiting a retail store in-person. There may also be delays obtaining eSIMs from operators due to ID verification requirements.
A better option for travelers is purchasing an eSIM plan directly from a specialist like portugalesim.com by GIGAGO. We offer short-term prepaid packages that can be instantly activated upon arrival in Portugal without the above issues. Plans start as short as 3 days up to 30 days, with generous daily data allowances from 1GB up to 20GB.
portugalesim.com enables simple eSIM management entirely through their website. After purchase, access an online portal to activate, change plans, monitor usage, update payment details, and more.
To activate, check device compatibility, select a plan length, purchase, scan the provided QR code, and you’re connected like a regular SIM in Portugal. Support is available around the clock in multiple languages.
Having full control of your eSIM through portugalesim.com‘s portal makes the experience hassle-free. Customize seamlessly from Portugal or even before visiting for worry-free connectivity while traveling.
Which Portugal mobile operator has the best coverage?
Vodafone has a slight edge, covering over 96% of the population with 4G LTE. But MEO and NOS also offer excellent coverage of 98% and 95% respectively. Rural areas may see differences.
Can I use my SIM card from another European country in Portugal?
Yes, European Union roaming rules allow using your cellular plan from an EU country across Portugal. But roaming charges, speed caps, and data limits may apply. A local Portuguese SIM provides better rates.
How long does it take to activate a SIM card?
If purchased directly from an operator, SIM activation is typically immediate. For an online purchase, allow 24-48 hours for delivery and activation. Some verification procedures may lengthen the process.
Do operators offer monthly contracts or just prepaid?
All major operators offer both monthly contract plans, typically 12 or 24 months, as well as prepaid options without a contract. Prepaid may require periodic top-ups to maintain service.
Can I purchase just a data-only SIM?
Yes, many plans are available for data-only use, without voice capability. These data SIMs work well for tablets, mobile hotspots, and other connected devices.
Finding the best mobile operator in Portugal depends on your specific needs and usage. But MEO, NOS, and Vodafone all deliver excellent nationwide connectivity and competitive plan rates.
Purchasing a local Portuguese SIM card in airport and retail locations is straightforward. Be sure to compare offerings to identify the right operator for coverage, speeds, price, roaming, and other features you require. With an appropriate SIM card, you can stay conveniently connected across Portugal.