The basics
THE Netherlands: Once you arrive - Must read

Setting up broadband and phone services in the Netherlands

Cable provide a guide to arranging broadband internet, phone and mobile services for international students arriving in the Netherlands...


The Netherlands has some impressive statistics with regards to internet connections. Along with Switzerland, it is ranked as having the most broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, has no bandwidth caps and has the most homes in Europe with a connection speed of 50Mb and higher. So, if you’re studying in the country, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a decent provider to help you stay in touch with your friends and family back home.

While it may appear simple from the outset, you might have a few questions about setting up a broadband connection or getting a mobile phone contract during your stay in the Netherlands. We’ve had a look at your options and produced this guide to steer you through the fjords of telecoms uncertainty.


Arranging broadband internet in the Netherlands

With over 100 providers to choose from, setting up a broadband connection in the Netherlands might seem like an ominous task. There are two types available: standard ADSL and cable. The two main companies that provide ADSL are KPN and Tele2, and they market their products under various brands throughout the industry. As ADSL is delivered though a telephone line, you may need an engineer visit at your property to install it.

Cable services, such as those provided by companies like UPC Netherlands, Delta Kabel and Ziggo, are delivered along a separate cable network and are usually teamed up with a TV and phone package, similar to the deals you can get in the UK. Internet speeds are generally faster in the Netherlands than in the UK, with UPC Netherlands, for example, offering broadband bundles with either 50Mbps, 120Mbps or 200Mbps, which will be more than enough to do whatever you want online and have a decent amount left over. Alternatively, you could be a more social creature and head out to the cafés, bars and public spaces to do your browsing, as many of them have access to public Wi-Fi.

If you do opt for a broadband package, it might be worth looking into a decent VoIP service, such as Skype, which will allow you to make free phone and video calls over the internet, providing the person you’re calling has the same software installed. If the person you are trying to call does not have a VoIP service, you can add funds to your Skype account and use it to call them on a landline or mobile. This is probably the cheapest way to call home, but is not suitable for everyone.


Arranging a phone landline in the Netherlands

KPN Telecom provides the fixed line network in the Netherlands but, if you want to receive its service during your stay in the country, there are some provisos attached. Students must provide information regarding their address, identification and a valid residence permit before they can subscribe. However, you can also pay a fairly substantial deposit to the provider, which will be returned to you when you’ve paid a certain amount in.

There are a number of phone operators that use the UPC Netherlands network, such as Tele2, Primus and OneTel. UPC Netherlands has two packages, one is just the phone line, while the other – which is almost double the price – offers free calls to fixed line and mobile numbers inside the Netherlands and unlimited calls to landlines in Europe and North America. This is an expensive service, and is only available when bundled with a TV package, but it will eliminate your communication problems and give you something to watch during your downtime.


Arranging a mobile phone in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a connected place, with 13 million mobile phones over a population of almost 17 million. Although it’s in the EU, taking you own mobile might be inadvisable, as you’ll be subject to (admittedly fixed) roaming charges. These have decreased in recent years, and are set to be removed entirely eventually, but if you’re a prolific mobile user, these charges will add up and give you a nasty shock when your bill arrives. If you plan on staying in the country for an extended period, it might be wise to invest in a phone from a Dutch company – the major providers being Vodafone, Telfort and T-Mobile – to keep costs down as much as possible.

If you already have a handset you like, you can unlock it from its current provider and pick up a SIM-only deal from a Dutch provider. These are available from most operators and have varying amounts of free minutes, texts and data available. If you do need a new handset, you can pick up a longer contract (up to two years) and pay the phone and SIM off over that time.

Another option is to pick up a hybrid SIM, which lets you change your contract month-on-month. This is great for those that have fluctuating needs from their mobile plan, but the constant alterations might become a pain.


What are my rights as a consumer in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands has a similar system as the UK when it comes to consumer rights, but if you are thinking of picking up a broadband or phone contract it’s worth knowing where you stand if things go wrong. If you buy something that is defective, you can return it to the seller and be entitled to a refund or replacement.

If you want to make a complaint as you feel you have not been treated fairly, you should explain the issue to the seller in a simple manner, detailing what you expected and what you are unhappy about. Hopefully this should solve the problem. If not, you should write a letter to the seller explaining the problem, requesting a letter be sent back in response. If this does not satisfy you, or fails to arrive after four weeks, you can file a complaint with ‘de geschillencommissie’ which should be able to solve your issue.

The most important thing here is keeping a record of your communication, so writing a letter and requesting all correspondence be sent to you in letter form is a must.


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About Author

Richard Murphy is a consumer writer for When his finger isn't on the pulse of the latest broadband and mobile news, it can usually be found hammering a video game control pad or leafing though a Japanese cook book.