In 2000, the Internet in Ecuador had yet to really take off. Here in Tena we only had one Internet cafe, which had 2 computers. I worked there for a short while and thinking back makes me laugh.
The cafe had its own email address. Almost everyone who came in would write emails from this account - hardly anyone had their own address. And then you'd come in from time to time to check if you had received a reply - which would be sent to that one email account. Talk about no privacy!
It was at this cafe that I set up my first email account. The owner had to help me and I remember running password ideas by him.
Back then the Internet in Ecuador was s-l-o-w. I can't remember the by-the-hour charge, but you needed a good hour if you planned to do anything substantial online.
Since then Internet in Ecuador has really changed. Now just about every block has one or more Internet cafes. The Internet has become a huge part of life in Ecuador. School kids are sent almost daily to look up something online as part of their homework, which doubles as an excuse to check their Facebook pages.
The increased popularity of the Internet has meant an increase in Internet options...
Coming through Ecuador as a tourist? You have options for keeping in touch.
Internet cafes: As I said before there is an overabundance of Internet cafes in just about every decent size town or city. The average price is 60 cents per hour (if anyone tries to charge you a dollar or more per hour you are most likely being ripped off).
Speed is decent. I wouldn't call it hi-speed, but we've definitely moved past the age of dial-up.
WI-FI: Hotels and restaurants in just about any tourist town now offer WI-FI. So if you are traveling with your laptop, IPad, etc you will be able to use it. When checking in to your hotel ask the receptionist for the password. Some hotels still charge for WI-FI service, but I think this is a quickly dying trend as most hotels offer it as a free perk.
More and more of us who have moved to Ecuador are working online. So having a decent connection is very important. Back in the day, you had to have a land line to get Internet in Ecuador...which in places like Tena meant you didn't even have the option to have Internet at home. Thankfully, times have changed.
CNT (Formerly Andinatel and Pacifictel): The largest public telecommunications company in Ecuador often offers the best Internet. The cost to speed ratio is the best I've found. The downside, you need to have a land line phone and there must be an Internet line available in your neighborhood.
CNT is working on WI-FI, but it is not available in all areas. For example, here in Tena you can access wireless, but only if you live downtown.
Claro and Movistar: These popular cell phone providers also have good options for Internet in Ecuador. They offer pay-as-you-go plans, which are great if you are using them as a back up provider. There are also monthly plans which often include data and speed limits.
Movistar also offers an unlimited plan. I personally use it. It's ok. Nothing special. I can get done what I need to. Loading videos can be problematic and sudden loss in speed can be annoying. But at $32 per month, you can't beat the price.
Both Claro and Movistar use modem sticks, which plug into a USB port in your computer. This can be handy, since you can take the modem with you when traveling.
Both providers also offer Internet plans for your cell phone.
Local Providers: Most places will also have a local internet provider. Here in Tena we have SalvaSelva.net. A year and a half ago we were told they were the best available. Sadly because of where we live, we couldn't get service from them (too much interference between us and their antenna). And now we've heard more and more complaints. The band width they have seems to be overloaded and has caused the speed to slow considerably.
Check out local providers in your area. And if you do go with one it's a good idea to check the speed of your Internet to see if it's up to par with what you were promised.
Trying to load a video or webpage and it comes up "not available in your country?" Download and IP blocker such as Anchor Free Hotspot Shield. This will give you an IP address that allows you to keep up with your favorite websites and keeps your connection secure.
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