Before you go investing in a movistar PAYG dongle, you need to make absolutely certain that Movistar have a decent 3G coverage for your area. You say you have a Movistar mobile service ‘just’; from this statement alone I would guess that 3G cover, essential for wireless dongle service, is probably equally as marginal.
I would suggest you visit a Movistar shop to make sure that 3G coverage is available.
To be honest, Vodafone might be a better bet, or Orange. Both offer PAYG dongles. Vodafone claim to have cover in something like 95% of the mainland. Again a visit to one of the shops is adviseable.
My wife purchased a netbook on her last visit to the UK and bought a PAYG Vodafone dongle at the same time. What she was told at th time was that ‘roaming’ ie the ability to use the system in other countries would not be possible and this has proved to be the case. So the chances are that similar rules apply over here; ie., a Vodafone Spain PAYG dongle will work in Spain but not in the UK.
OK so what is a dongle? Basically its a device for converting digital signals into a format suitable for transmission and reception over radio links. It acts as a mobile phone that plugs into a USB slot on your computer. It uses a different set of characteristics that make high speed data transmission and reception possible. Much faster than a conventional mobile phone. Not having been there when my wife bought hers I cannot say whether there is any additional software to be loaded onto your laptop but I would imagine there is. I would suggest you take your laptop to your chosen service provider and let them set it up for you.
When you plug the dongle into a USB port it goes through a self check procedure. It takes it’s power from the USB port so you dont need to worry about batteries. Having completed its self-test routine it then searches for and synchronises with the nearest wireless mast operated by your chosen service provider. That done you should be able to use the net as you would normally. As you surf or download so the available credit is counted down until you are getting close to zero at which point you will receive a message from the service provider telling you to recharge. I believe that its just a case of taking the donglre into a service providers store and handing over the cash. You will need to know the number of your dongle; it has its own dedicated phone number the same as a mobile phone. It may be possible to recharge the dongle over the net or at stores such as Carrefour; I’m not sure. Perhaps someone else can provide an answer to this point.
As for operating costs…they are more expensive to use than conventional ADSL services, but it all depends on useage; clearly shifting large amounts of data, photographs, and downloading music etc is going to use up your allotted useage pretty quickly, so you should use a bit of caution…a typical CD music album transcribed at 320kbs will use something like 120Mbs ie 1/10 of a 1Gb; downloading video clips is probably a bit of a no-no if you want to conserve your allocated usege.
If your laptop has a wireless card installed you should be able to make use of the Free WiFi services offered at some hotels and other outlets…(RENFE AVE services offer free Wifi as do some longer distance coach services.) If using a free wifi service you should ensure that the dongle is removed from the laptop; so that the laptop communicates with the Free Wifi service rather than the mobile service provider thereby saving you money.
Hope some of this helps…
BTW were you ever based at Rousilllon Barracks in Chichester…You let slip somewhere on another thread that you were a redcap at some point so I guess you must have been…