Keeping in Touch in the Netherlands
Keeping in touch in the Netherlands is easy. Service standards are good and the options are many, with Internet, telephone, mobile phone and post available. Expats can also stay informed with newspapers and news sites aplenty.
Internet in the Netherlands
As one of the most connected countries in the European Union, dozens of companies provide Internet access in the Netherlands in various forms, including DSL, cable and fibre.
Major companies that provide DSL include KPN and Tele2, but expats may need to have a DSL phone line installed.
A cable network, on the other hand, doesn't require a separate phone line and can be a bit cheaper. Cable service is often available in packages with cable television and telephone services.
Major cable companies include Ziggo and Delta Kabel, but there are numerous Internet service providers.
Unfortunately, cable Internet is dependent on location, so customers can't always choose their cable provider.
There is an abundance of Internet cafés and access centres, while libraries and public buildings offer free computer access. Some business centres also provide Internet access to the public.
Mobile phones in the Netherlands
The Netherlands has an extremely high percentage of mobile phone usage. The largest companies in the Dutch mobile phone industry include Vodafone, Telfort and T-Mobile.
Most mobile companies offer universal roaming coverage and some phones will also work on other networks overseas. Mobile satellite phones are a reliable but pricy option that can be used on any kind of network in most countries.
Phone services from other countries can also be used in the Netherlands, provided the network operator allows international roaming. Expats can also buy a Dutch SIM card as long as their phone isn’t locked by their service provider.
The two major calling plans available in the Netherlands are prepaid and contract. Costs depend on the average number of calls made, the time of day the calls are made, whether the phone is used overseas, and whether calls are made to mobile phones or fixed phone lines. Contract plans typically have cheaper calling rates and include a pre-determined number of free calls over a certain period of time. While contract plans require a subscription fee, prepaid plans do not.
In the Netherlands, it is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving unless it’s used with a headset or car kit. Failure to abide by this law will result in heavy fines. Authorities may even confiscate the mobile device.
Telecommunication in the Netherlands
KPN Telecom provides all fixed landline telephones in the Netherlands. Expats have to subscribe for at least a year and provide identification, proof of address and their residence permit. Other options might include a deposit which will be refunded after making regular payments for a specified period of time.
Several companies operate under the KPN Telecom umbrella and offer competitive call rates.
Telephone information is available in Dutch, English, French and German.
Public telephones only accept prepaid cards, which can be purchased at post offices, tourist (VVV) offices, newsagents and any shop displaying a PTT telephone card poster. At train stations, a special calling card is needed which can only be purchased at a station.
Postal services in the Netherlands
Post offices are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, and on Saturday from 9am to 12pm. Some post offices in major cities are open late on specified shopping nights, usually Thursday or Friday, and all-night post offices are found in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
Stamps can be found at tourist kiosks and supermarkets in addition to the post office. Mailing within Europe usually takes two to five days, while postage times outside of Europe vary, depending on destination.
English media and news in the Netherlands
Several international news channels are available in the Netherlands, including CNN and BBC. Newspapers from various countries and in several languages can be found at any public library. An expat newspaper called The Holland Times is also available via subscription or free at several locations in Amsterdam and The Hague.
Good local English news websites include:
Dutch Daily News
Radio Netherlands Worldwide