Internet Options in Costa Rica – Welcome to the 21st Century

High speed internet in the middle of the jungle is a beautiful thing, but up until a few years ago was almost impossible.  The only options back then were to go to an internet café (which was usually dial up speed) or try and hook up your cell phone (if you had signal) to the computer and use snail pace internet.  Well, all that has changed thankfully and it is possible to work online from your house in Costa Rica virtually anywhere in the country from remote beaches and mountains to the big city of San Jose.

There now are numerous internet options depending on where you live.  Cable internet is the best and most reliable, but is only available in larger towns and close to main roads, not in the mountains and more rural locations.  The local cable company CableTica offers a cable TV and internet package of about $65 per month.

I.C.E. – Costa Rica National Telecom Company

Another option is through a land line telephone connection and I.C.E. (the national telecommunications company) can then provide high-speed internet for around $40 per month.  I.C.E. also sells “internet sticks”; which are plugged into your USB drive and pick up internet wherever there is cell phone signal.  Now a days there is signal many places there was not previously due to the 3G network I.C.E. put in place a few years ago.  This “internet stick” supposedly gets up to 2MB speed, but realistically it hovers around 1MB on a good day.

You can also turn your phone into an internet hot spot and use it as your wifi router.  This works only if you have internet service from your cell phone provider and now along with I.C.E. there are other options such as; Claro and Movistar.  These companies have only recently begun to operate in Costa Rica and before I.C.E. had the monopoly on the telecom market.   Again this will only go as fast as your internet service on your phone, but is a great option for those living in rural areas.  For unlimited downloads and supposed 2MB speed it is $27 per month, can be less with limited downloads and less speed.

Lastly there are options that involve antennas at your house that pick up signal from various towers within direct line of site.  We use one called WiMax at our house and it is only $27 per month for reliable 2MB speed and we even have an internet phone line for an additional $15 per month more or less depending on usage.  WiMax is a system that uses a cell phone tower to place its equipment and you have to have an antenna at the house with direct line of site to that particular cell tower.  There is a tower 7-10 miles away from us that we can see in the distance and the service works great.  Does go out in really heavy rains, but can work in normal showers and most weather.  There is another company called SkyLynx that offers 1MB for $55 per month and faster speeds for higher monthly fees.  However, this is not available everywhere and can be less reliable in storms.  But they do have private antennas around the area and the house needs to have a receptor antenna as well.

Having internet at your home makes living and working in Costa Rica much more feasible for anyone considering relocation.  Also renting a home with internet can allow for longer vacations while staying in touch with your work back home; as long as you are at the rental house and not at the beach!