Getting Online: Internet in the Netherlands

The Internet options available to you in the Netherlands...

The Netherlands has the highest average data download speed in Europe at 45Mbps for home connections and 19Mbps for mobile data. Around 98 per cent of homes are covered by a cable network that delivers Internet and TV. Most residents choose to subscribe to cable Internet services, with 97 per cent of all data in the country delivered via this method. There are no bandwidth caps, and ‘shaping’ (slowing Internet speed after a certain amount of data is consumed) is not used.

Most providers offer similar packages. Although the majority of provider websites and invoices are in Dutch only, customer enquiries are almost always answered in English when needed.

Getting connected to the Internet

Connections take about five working days from sign-up to full functionality. Signing up can be done online with the chosen provider (although most websites are in Dutch only), via telephone or in person at a retail store. The company will first run a postcode check of your address as the infrastructure in some regions is still under exclusive licence to one of the two largest telecoms companies (KPN and UPC). In this case a contract can only be signed with one of these.

Comparison websites give a convenient overview of the available packages:

ADSL

For the 2 percent of homes not yet covered by the cable network, ADSL (broadband) is the second-fastest option. This connection type tends to be more expensive than cable as it is necessary to hold two contracts: one with the owner of the phone line (KPN) and the other with an ISP (Internet service provider).

Mobile Internet

Mobile internet is usually part of a bundled mobile phone contract that includes calls and SMS, although data-only plans are available. This can be post-paid (abonnement) or prepaid, and in either case can include the handset or be SIM-only. Although mobile data connection is reliable and speeds tend to be high, mobile Internet in the Netherlands is more costly than in other Western European countries. Also, the data is usually capped, a step backwards from the unlimited contracts offered up until 2014.

Hotspots

Dutch residents who have their home Internet connection with KPN or UPC are automatically given access to hotspots across the country. The system works by adding a broadcast public network to a private home network. This public network can be accessed by any passerby who is a client of the same company, effectively ‘borrowing’ unused bandwidth.

Wi-Fi is available in most cafes and other public places as well as on all public transport, although reliability and speed can be erratic. Like all public hotspots, these connections tend to be poorly secured. Care should be taken not to transmit sensitive information while using them.

Internet service providers

A non-exhaustive list of the major providers of Internet in the Netherlands: