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Getting Internet Access in Costa Rica

Internet access in Costa Rica
Looking to get online? Look no further…

If you’re looking to get Internet access for your home or office, Costa Rica has a few options that should fit your budget. For now, all Internet traffic goes through Grupo ICE, the state-owned power and communications company that has a monopoly on the market. Almost all the services require you to sign a contract plus pay a refundable deposit but these are not significant.

Here is a summary of the different services available, pricing and their pros & cons.

Dialup
This option allows you to connect to the Internet using your home phone line. With a maximum download speed of 56 kbps, this service is fine if you just want to check your email or post to your blog once in a while. If you’re going to be doing much more than that, the slow speed may drive you nuts. Another downside of this option is that you can’t speak on your phone and be online at the same time. This service is provided by RACSA and there are a few different service plans available:

• Economy Plan. Monthly plan at $4.95 per month + 4.10 colones per minute for phone time.
• 900-en-linea. This is a pay-as-you-go plan at 11.10 colones per minute (including the phone call rate)
• Prepaid internet access cards. Available for 1,800 colones for 5 hours to 5,500 colones for 15 hours of use.

ADSL
Costa Rica’s high speed internet service that works through your phone line, while still allowing you to use the phone normally, is the most widely used option. This service is offered by ICE and is called “@celera” which means “to speed up”. The rate for this starts at $19/month plus 21,000 colones for installation.

Cable Modem
This type of access is available only to people who have CableTica or Amnet cable service so it is mostly restricted to the bigger towns. Rates start at $17/month for 256/64 kbps to $169 for the top-end at 4Mb/1Mb plus a small fee for modem rental.

WiMax
WiMax is a new broadband service that allows you to access the Internet from your home or office via a wireless antenna. Starting at $29 per month for 512/256 kbps, you also have to take into account that you have to pay a small monthly fee for modem rental. WiMax is only available in San Jose, Heredia, Cartago, Escazú, Santa Ana for now although it is expanding to Alajuela and other cities shortly.

Internet Cafés
Virtually every small town in Costa Rica has an Internet Café – some people say they’re almost as common as churches and soccer fields. Rates vary and usually increase as you get farther away from San José. You can expect to pay anywhere from 300 in San Jose to 1,500 colones per hour along the coast or tourist destinations. Internet Café’s are highly recommended as they’re relatively cheap and you don’t have to worry about getting your expensive laptop stolen.

Free WiFi Hotspots
RACSA is offering free Wireless Internet access in the following places:

Juan Santamaría International Airport, Alajuela
Multiplaza, Escazú and Este
Paseo de las Flores Mall, Heredia
Plaza Real Cariari, San Antonio de Belén, Heredia
Terramall, Trés Ríos/Cartago
Metrocentro Mall, Cartago

There are also many hotels, bars and restaurants that provide free wireless access so ask around. Bagelman’s is one of my favorite spots to enjoy a bagel and coffee while I check my email. Some Subway chains and coffee shops also offer free WiFi.

As with all things in Costa Rica, Internet service can sometimes be unreliable. My connection is usually OK except when bad weather knocks down utility lines. If your connection goes down, just remember where you are… and go for a walk.

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John D. Kloninger is a online marketer Living in Costa Rica. Born in California, he grew up in San Jose and then went on to University in Honolulu, HI and Boston, MA. You can contact him at jkloninger@gmail.com.

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Written by JohnK

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