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Sick of being ignored by your current Internet provider?

Habland Internet dish and external modem

This entry is predominently aimed at readers in our corner of Spain who are looking for a better broadband setup and has been very much updated in early 2024. In the area where we live and in our village of Galera 18840 in particular, choices are limited as to Internet providers… or are they?

This entry was originally started back in May 2022, is primarily (but not exclusively) for people in the outskirts of Galera (and probably other areas including Huescar) who have broadband issues and actually want to solve them. It COULD however have some interest for pretty much anyone looking to escape the clutches of their broadband provider where there is a reliable 4G/5G signal available with comments about other “solutions”.

If my experiences seem like they might be of use to you, then further down, for one option, you would need a half-decent mobile signal and be prepared to pick the right Spanish mobile (yes – mobile) operator for the job – don’t pick and choose from this article – remember – most mobile “unlimited data” contracts are a con – i.e. they have a “fair use” policy – in other words – NOT unlimited. I THINK that Starlink has a monthly “fair use” limit – but not 100% sure. Keep reading….

If you are only interested in a solution, skip this section and jump to “An actual Alternative Solution (or even “July 2023 Update” and work backwards as needed) but I suggest below is worth checking.

Where We Began

For well over a decade – until May 2022, here in Galera , my wife and I were using wireless-dish-based broadband supplied originally by Iberbanda and then moved onto the once-helpful Habland ( used to dealt with a fellow called Antonio who is no longer with the company). Habland is now part of Excom. Originally a PAINFULLY slow service, maybe in 2020, Habland started to offer a barely good enough 30Mbps (MAX) download (TV, surfing etc.) and 3Mbps (MAX) upload service.

The actual AMOUNT of data that Habland allow in a month is unlimited like most broadband services (our home typically goes through 300GB+ a month on TV and PC use – not to be confused with SPEED above). At its best, the Habland scenario was OK for HD’ish TV and general Internet browsing and email, but this Internet setup was limited in many ways… speeds were rarely if ever at the contracted rate and in bad weather, the local antenna in Galera gets turned off, presumably for safety, given storms and less-than-ideal electricity here.

Broadband Speed

The download (TV watching etc) speed provided by Habland was at best just about OK. To be fair, even today, sometimes people complain of poor speed when in fact it could be their own internal WiFi at fault, other times the speed genuinely drops, others are on a different antenna to the one we had, some have old dishes and all of these issues and differences are lumped together into one local Facebook group – which seems not to be achieving anything – hence this article, originally drafted in May 2022 and subsequently updated as need be.

Some (who are lucky enough to have telegraph poles nearby) are using the Habland fibre option and I regularly see complains about that, too. Spain has been allocated billions in EU grants to fit out rural areas with fibre but it is looking increasingly obvious that providers are being selective where they provide their services – the same happened in the UK:-)

Habland POE power supply

So, Habland dish: DOWNLOAD SPEED OK (<30Mbps) but only at best. As for UPLOAD speed, 3Mbps and below is not really fast enough for modern life – video calls (Zoom, Skype, Discord, WhatsApp, Facetime and a miriad of other social media communications) and as for sending video to YouTube – uploading video under Habland was like watching paint dry.

Then there is the question of reliability. We didn’t do that badly at our home but others have regular problems with little if any feedback from the provider. I thought, as VERY FEW in our area seem to be getting anywhere, that I’d start up something constructive in here without getting over-technical (I have a technical blog for that and I HAVE written a tech article elsewhere for further reading for those with some tech background who are interested).

If the local history is not of interest, skip to “An actual Alternative Solution“.

On February 28, 2021, Habland offered our street fibre broadband “soon” – Antonio at Habland emailed me directly on this – see below – even though I told them we have no phone masts here in our area – they would supply fibre anyway, so they said:

“No need to put your order, as soon as the fiber is in your street we’ll call you to switch free of cost. Then you can ask for the speed and IP. Due how the market is moving… may be on the summer we only sell 1000 Mb fiber plans …. who knows..…”

The above was followed by another short email on April 8, 2021:

“We’ll contact you as soon as it is available (anyway you will see our crew laying fiber in town soon)”

On June 2021 , Jesús at Habland wrote to me:

“I’m Jesús. I’m writing from Habland. I do my best to help you.
We still do not have the fiber optic installation finished in Galera.
Before the end of the year we are sure that we will have this service.
We are very sorry for the inconvenience.”

By now I was getting excited – but then around September 16, 2021, all of that changed…

“We have been reviewing the map but we see that it’s too far from the box to be able to pull a fiber cable there. I’m sorry but it’s not possible. We throw our own fiber.
Regards, Rubén”

Finally – October 8, 2021:

“I regret to inform you that our fiber does not reach your property, we have sent a budget to your neighbor of the Cueva Encantada to install fiber in that area, if you want together you can pay that budget, so we can install the optical fiber in your area.


Lucía G.”

I informed others in our area – the response at first seemed enthusiastic – then with one exception, nothing. I hoped Habland-Excom would have a re-think. Later it did occur to me – if we are too far from the box, how would US taking responsibility for pole installation costs help?

Then the merger with EXCOM and all hope was lost… the first thing to magically disappear without explanation was the long-standing ability to drop to lower speeds and price (just enough to support security cameras) when we’re not at home. Habland would not explain, stating only that they did not offer such a service – which was of course UTTER NONSENSE, we’d used that option for several years with Habland while living here part time – and I mentioned it in here in January 2022 and probably much earlier).

Late in 2021, Habland changed their story to one which said they would give us fibre ONLY if we installed our own poles, fibre was left to the house owners – and we’ve all seen how well collective action works – NOT. As you might imagine with our next door, retired neighbours and ourselves being the only ones really committed to getting fibre from Habland at the time – after the above initial promise “soon”, that fibre option went no-where and I don’t now believe it ever will – I got sick of griping and worse – listening to others griping not only about the Habland dish service but also their fibre offering.

There is, of course always Elon Musk’s world-leading, revolutionary Starlink low-altitude satellite network – but it remains stubbornly expensive at this time both for monthly rental and installation. For those who already insist on paying €70+ a month, Starlink should come as no shock – good luck to them I say (of course for business use that kind of outlay may well be easy to justify). Depending on who’s articles you read, price is maybe €65 euros per month for the service plus €9 per month for the regulatory fee with a single initial payment of €199 euros to acquire the equipment. Or put another way, a possibly only temporararily drop to total €74 – and for that you get a WIFI-only connection, not a proper router. You can of course pay extra and buy an adaptor from Starlink to give you a single Ethernet output of which most half-decent normal routers would have 4 or 5. You’ve been warned.

Testing the Speed

Here is a measurement of Habland speed I took in April 2022, a couple of months before sending their disj back to Huescar (the one they promised to pick up but never did) simply by running the web page in my PC browser (Chrome) and pressing a button. I did this on my PC which is cabled to the router – NOT WiFi (always a mistake using WiFi for testing as internal WiFi issues could influence the speed adversely).


SO, with a dish maybe a year or so old from Habland and a clear view to their antenna in Galera from here in the hills above (there must be no visual obstacles – important), the results above were within reason given what we were (until May 2022) contracted for, above the norm for Habland users, some others in the area claim they get far lower speeds on average.

Up until 2021, I occasionally used my phone as a “hotspot” to ensure I had a viable emergency backup option and then moved onto the dedicated 4G router (GL-iNET PULI), image on the right (any half decent phone will have a hotspot facility) but I didn’t have a spare phone.

During 2021-2022 I had my own amateur-night-out 4G backup (low cost, low data, low speed) using that GL-iNET 4G router (white – right image) feeding secondary Internet to my system on demand in case of Habland failure.

SIMYO (Orange), HITS Mobile (Vodaphone) and other mobile company’s monthly data limits typically make even their most expensive offering unfeasible as a full replacement for broadband.

Initially I positioning that GL-iNET router (designed for mobile use) high up externally but as it isn’t waterproof that wasn’t a long-term solution.

In summary, my backup until May 2022 allowed only wireless connection from the above 4G router to my main router – hardly ideal… but things change with time – read on…

An Actual Alternative Solution

In early May 2022 I came up with a 4G alternative to Habland and it has now been running for over a year with only VERY infrequent speed drops.

For the data LIMITS issue, I stumbled on a company called XENET who have a €21 (all inc.) a month so-called “unlimited” plan including 300GB max download data (amount, not speed) a month (just enquire, the will clarify their “fair use” of 300GB dropping to 64Kbps if exceeded – no-one else seems to come close to this offering at that price). This proved to be enough for heavy TV/Movies and typical web use with one small caviat – see below – and why deliberately lie in the ad? claiming “unlimited” – most others do the same with a tiny star at the bottom.

The caviat is: With Xenet I soon exceeded the 300GB/month due to excessive TV/movie use 3 days in a row. I discovered that I was typically turning off the TV at night but I would leave the TV Android box on overnight and the particular service was constantly downloading shows – took me 3 days to realise, but I quickly cracked that – the box and TV from that point on,were put into standby when we go to bed – problem solved.

By mid-July 2022 we were ensuring the TV box was on standby overnight (hence not un-necessarily consuming data) and from there on typically used under 10GB a day without taking any other precautions or reducing general data use. I’m on the PC, blogging regularly as well as uploading videos to Facebook and YouTube – also we regularly binge-watch movies and TV shows.

Hotspots for Backup?

For the SPEED issue, I found out an EXTERNAL 4G router with POE (power over Ethernet – see below) on Amazon.es, seemingly reasonably priced i.e. sub-€70. It also had WiFi and I figured I could use the latter for external devices that don’t need to be part of my internal network.

But as always you get what you pay for and the KuWFI router (photo – left) was AT ALL sensitive at picking up 4G signals.

KuWFi 4G router

I used the cheap 4G modem/router for over 2 months and it worked well but I did need to mount the modem outside on a pole to get a clear signal above the roof – thankfully the router had POE (power over Ethernet – see the end) and so only needed the one cable. I bought cheap CAT5E Ethernet cable from the big Chinese store in nearby Baza complete with connectors already fitted on each end – for just a few Euros – no tools needed.

In our first test with the router in the window I got the same download speed as Habland, i.e. 30Mbps, but an UPLOAD speed of around 4* Habland speed – i.e. maybe 12Mbps (upload speed is important for video calls). In our best tests at the time, mounted near the top of our Chimney with a phone on Orange (i.e. Simyo initially) we briefly managed 150Mbps down and 50-60Mbps up.

Holding the ROUTER near the top of the Chimney I regularly achieved maybe 60Mbps download and 30Mbps upload – not as good as a phone but this blew Habland’s dish broadband offering out of the water for less outlay (our monthly “broadband” total now being €21 inclusive).

I then picked a convenient location (on a simple aluminium pole) which did not offer the top theoretical speed but was regularly pumping out upwards of 50Mbps in one direction and not far off in the other.

The Xenet deal includes calls (but no texts if you want to get clever – I don’t).

Here for reference is the inside setup (photo right)…. ignore the irrelevant mess of wires in my office. The bits to watch are the black power supply (included with the router) (photo below right) on the left, plugged into the wall – and my black router on the right.

There’s a single black cable coming out of the provided power supply/POE unit and into the top of my main router.

So where does this take me? Time for a quick testvelocidad. 56.1Mbps download, 38.8Mbps upload, 38ms ping. I put the cable inside the aluminium pole for protection from the sun.

The aluminium pole came from our local Ferreteria – i.e. hardware store.

While I could not achieve with the router what I can with a top-of-the-range phone, this rig cost a fraction of a top-of-the-range phone! Here’s a typical reading:


The difference between griping and acting was exhilarating.

After all that work – success in more ways than one

In addition to switching from Habland to Xenet for our “broadband” as above, I also switched mobile providers for my phone.

Previously I was paying Habland €35 all in for broadband and Simyo €5 for the phone. As I was now down to €21 for broadband, I felt I could manage a slight increase in mobile cost and still win out. €9 got me unlimited calls and 70GB data a month with Xenet which meant I would have some spare data for emergencies – my main router would automatically switch to using the mobile hotspot if it is was turned on – all sorted.

Is this something only techies can do? Almost 5 years ago I was seriously ill and my memory and concentration is now SHOT. If I can do this so can others.

All seemed well with the new setup until the summer 2022 heatwave. As the temperature rose, the reliability of the KuWfi 4G router went down. I put this down to the external heat (I should have housed the router in a wooden box) and so I replaced the KuWfi router with a TP-Link Archer MR600 (V2) 4G router from Amazon. As it happens, the aerials on this router are better and I no longer needed to place the TP-Link outside. I found success mounting the Archer in the far corner of my office where it sat until September 2023.

TP-Link Archer 4G Router

That is working fine within the limits of the 4G LTE+ service i.e. a (high – 300GB) monthly data volume limit and variable speed depending on the time of day.

Meanwhile on one of the forums I spotted someone talking about a broadband company called MiFibra.Online – they also insisted that Calle Ceuta 25 opposite us is, according to their records, able to get fibre and comprises several chalets – I challenged this as Calle Ceuta 25 is opposite us and comprises one family and no chalets and has never had any broadband other than Habland dish service. Ultimately the company were VERY helpful but could NOT offer fibre in our area (people really should do better research before blasting out adverts). They informed me that MoviStar ultimately need to install poles so that they can provide a service and until that happens, if ever, they cannot help. Mifibra also dismissed a local-group Facebook claim by one person that the latter has a 5G service with them, they are very clear that they only provide fibre services on the back of, for example, MoviStar-installed telegraph installations. Summary – utter timer-wasting.

Update May 2023 – Things change – Sometimes for the Better but Beware

As mentioned above, xenet.es as a 4G provider worked well for us from May 2022 until I switched to Digi. Using the TP-Link ArcherMR600 v2 modem/router to feed 4G to a much better (but not 4G) GL-iNET FLINT router worked well. I also from time to time tested wireless tethering as a backup option to get a data signal from my phone into the FLINT router using the phone’s mobile hotspot. In March 2023 I was writing a review about a another new router and in the process remembered having read, some time ago about USB tethering on mobile phones.

Back in 2022, my Xiaomi PocoPhone and router combination didn’t seem to want to know about USB tethering. Well, NOW, my Samsung phone and the FLINT router DO co-operate over USB and I quickly managed, using SpeedTest.net on my hardwired PC to get 160Mbps+ download from that combination of the two 4G signals when needed. One option if taking this route would be a cheap, 4G-sensitive phone that WILL support USB tethering (I know, good luck finding a supplier that would know USB tethering from a hole in the ground).

Aside from the initial router router outlay, xenet.es and my two routers are a FAR better bet than our original HABLAND/EXCOM dish broadband setup – and for approximately €9 LESS per month, cheaper, faster, better service – and I learned a lot in the process. As far as I can tell, the only limits are 4G and we should eventually get 5G – but I’m not complaining. I could run several HD TVs at once on this lot.

For simple home use only, the TP-Link router is essential – the second router is a luxury.

Please note that while Xenet unlimited (300GB) still remains ok for the house, I made the mistake of dropping my phone contract from 70GB to 30GB/month for one month and when I then attempted to raise it back to 70GB/month (having discovered I could use both my main 4G contract and mobile phone together to increase speeds), they said that they could not offer this. I was a bit disappointed about that… but again “shy bairns get nowt” so I checked their terms – the contract can be terminated at any time without penalty – so I asked for a replacement contract for the phone. Ultimately, Xenet said if I wanted to regain the €9 deal for my phone, I’d have to scrap my contract, go elsewhere for a while and then come back to them – how WEIRD is that!

On the subject of phones – this will vary but down in the village, my Samsung phone, using xenet.es (Orange), will pull in download speeds in excess of 200Mbps.

The June 2023 Update – It Keeps Getting Better

A lot has happened in the past month. I bought a marginally upgraded Archer MR600 router (V3) and I finally switched my mobile contract to DIGI.ES in Spain – it turns out they do not back onto some other company but are in fact a true provider with their own network. Back in the UK you’d have to go to GIFFGAFF to get the best deal out of, say, O2 – but here, the best deal using Digi is in fact Digi – and as far as I can tell they are the ONLY provider offering TRUE unlimited mobile data… accordingly I’ve taken them on.

After a setback when I discovered they have virtually no support over weekends, my SIM for 4G broadband is working just fine. I have the Digi €25 unlimited deal for my 4G broadband. This morning (June 5, 2023), several Speedtest.Net tests in a row returned 140Mbps+ download, up to 80Mbps upload and pings of around 35ms, better by 25% or more than Xenet and (well and truly confirmed) truly unlimited data.

July 2023 Update – All Working Just Fine

As things stand, Digi (atencionalcliente@digimobil.es) are IMHO the best 4G service option for broadband (and truly unlimited for €25 a month with 2024 dropping to €20 (December 2023)) certainly around my home town of Galera but CHECK SIGNAL LEVELS where you live (note I said the actual service – not impressed by support so far). IF you get a decent signal in your area and are able to understand my comments above about getting the TP-Link Archer MR600 V3 4G router then you’re off to a flying start. Second best is Xenet (info@xenetvalencia.es) at €21 a month with their 300GB capped so-called “unlimited” option. Both have performed almost flawlessly for me, Xenet WELL over a year, Digi for several months now. Starlink (the world’s most powerful satellite network headed up by Elon Musk (think Paypal, Tesla, SpaceX) remains an option at a much higher monthly price and with higher download speeds but lower upload speeds and un-alterably higher latency. The Spanish have a temporarily subsidised satellite service but I’d ignore that unless the other options are no good for you. If you hear others recommending Digi or Xenet on Facebook, there’s a very good chance I started them down that route and I’ve yet to hear anyone complaining. In all this time, DIGI have dropped out twice (briefly), Xenet not at all.

End of November 2023 Update – BIG improvements

So when I left this in July I was more than happy with the Archer MR600 V3 4G router… and had moved onto other projects. Early in September I decided to stick with Digi for 4G “broadband” and go back to Xenet for my phone (70GB/month for €9 – or 140GB/month for €14) – when an opportunity arose to purchase a second-hand ZTE 4G router from Wallapop (a kind of Spanish eBay).

I didn’t really expect any miracles but as it turns out, the ZTE can peak at, in my case, pulling in well over 150Mbps download speed. Minor improvement over the TP-Link?



I’m not going to go into further potential speed increases here – the’re fully detailed in my tech blog but suffice it to say that by plugging my phone into my main router I can USB3 piggy-back the phone 4G+ LTE signal onto that of the ZTE (both feeding a GL-iNET ordinary router).

Are you ready for this? Best case example from the combo and bear in mind this option is only for the more advanced user…

Speedtest Digi + Xenet (via USB)

In summary – for basic, fast 4g-based broadband if you get a reasonable 4g+ LTE signal: a TP-Link MR600v2 or v3 OR (if available) a ZTE MF286D 4G router – and either Digi unlimited or Xenet “unlimited” 4G+ LTE (commonly and slightly incorrectly simply referred to as 4G) service.

Don’t expect such speed over WiFi, for TV and saving video to YouTube – I hardwire (Ethernet) the TV box and my PC to the router.

None of this holds a candle to our local pub’s latest broadband updates… Pizzeria La Poza in Galera – I checked on 14/01/2024 – unbelievable – and that’s over WiFi on my phone – I assume a hardwired PC would be even better depending on the network cabling. See image below…

Broadband speed at the local pub.

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