Overview of Internet Services Costa Rica
If you are moving to or visiting Costa Rica, you will certainly want to connect to the Internet.
For years, the Internet fell under control of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE). No more. With the passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, the ICE monopoly was removed. There are now several cable and Internet companies as well as cellular service providers that also offer Internet on your cell phone.
One of the most often asked questions goes something like this: "I am moving to Costa Rica and I am going to live in XXXXXX. Can I get absolutely reliable high speed Internet there?".
I have two fast answers.
1. High speed Internet is available in an ever-growing number of locations. Defining high speed may vary. It will depend on the company you use for service, but some of the amazing speeds available in the US may not be available here, or may cost a great deal more. Cabletica bundles with cable TV service. I just got 35mgs for $130 per month here in Potrero, Guanacaste.
2. There is absolutely no 100% reliable service here from any Internet Service Provider unless you are using leased and fully redundant, high speed lines such as T-1 (or greater) connection (which can be outrageously expensive here).
Interruptions are not common (maybe 1-2 times per month) and seldom last for more than a few minutes. While this is probably very acceptable to many people, some others might find it annoying or unworkable, especially if you simply cannot have any downtime.
While you will generally get decent service, there can be outages, problems with IP addresses being blocked for outgoing email, system slowness, and DNS (name server) problems that plague IT professionals.
Customer service is worse, and you will need patience to get matters resolved. So is it just impossible? No just annoying. The problem is exacerbated because most Internet Service Providers (ISP) simply have untrained or maybe UNDER trained technicians. Bring your patience.
"Internet Service Providers?
There are cable and cell phone companies and RACSA that offer their own Internet connections and customer support and of course there is ICE itself. ICE owns RACSA and is attempting to effectively disallow them from selling Internet services.
Here is s short list in order of service quality and knowledge:
▪ Cabletica - head and shoulders above the rest,
▪ RACSA - They have improved customer service and better than their parent company, ICE
▪ Tigo - Crummy "It's your fault" customer service. Many service interruptions
▪ ICE - No clue how to fix issues. Same blame game as Tigo
▪ Claro - no data yet
▪ Movistar - Good mobile Internet
Cable service is sold by the zone, so depending where you choose to live, you get only one.
Finally, expect few support staff to speak any English at any of these companies. Cabletica does have an English support team in the office and in the field.
There are outages, slow downs and other irritating issues, but saying this, unless you are a day trader, or a true IT professional who absolutely HAS to have a solid 24 x 7 connection, the system here in Costa Rica is quite tolerable. 99% of you will use your connection for surfing, email, paying bills and so on... so a 5 to 45 minute outage or a system slowdown, while irritating, simply is not critical.
Availability of higher speed service is spreading. DSL is now available in many locations with more every day. This was not true a year or two ago.
You will generally find more reliable and more widely offered services in the Central Valley, and your chances of resolving a support issue in San José is far better than in remote locations, but this IS improving all the time.