Cell Phones In Costa Rica

Complicated Or Not?

Costa Rica Telecommunications

If you are thinking of permanently moving to Costa Rica or decide to take an extended Costa Rican vacation and you want to remain in touch with those who care about you or your business, you need to know Costa Rica’s telecommunications set-up. Remember, it’s not like it is back home, with cell towers everywhere and providers competing for your business!

In Costa Rica, bureaucracy rules the telecommunications network. As a developing country, the infrastructure is also developing and what is available to you depends on where you live. Up until recently, the telecommunications sector was operated by ICE or Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad which monopolized the sector. Today the market has been opened up to other players, resulting in some competitiveness amongst the players.

Surf The Net Tico Speed

ICE provides Costa Ricans with home phone service, which is quite reliable. In addition, 2G and 3G cellphone services are available by this provider.  Unfortunately land lines are limited so you need to know if your property has a land line before you buy or rent the dwelling. If you don’t ask, you may end up not having any chance of communication with the outside world. If you are promised these services, make sure they are there before you sign on the dotted line.

As more players join the telecommunications party in Costa Rica, like with many other commodities, what becomes available only becomes better. That is also true in Costa Rica. With a high percent of the population being Internet users in Costa Rica, and with a a high majority of cellphone users (almost 78%), availability of new technology and development of the infrastructure to support the technology is slow but it is getting there.

Cellphones from other countries including North America do not work in Costa Rica. To get a cellphone with a permanent number, you need to be a Tico friends register the service with ICE. As new players join the telecommunications networks, the requirements may eventually change.

If you decide to move to Costa Rica permanently, you may not have all the comforts of home in terms of Internet and cellphone capabilities. The important rule to remember is to ask and test out what you have before you make the commitment to live in an area. Don’t go on promises of things to come as in Costa Rica, that may be a long time!


Filed Under: FeaturedFeatured - Living and RetiringFeatured - Travelling

About the Author: Tee is Senior Editor of CostaRicaCLOSEUP.com and NBC's adventure dating series fans magazine LoveInTheWildFansMag.com, as well ascontributing editor to QRCodesUSA.org

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  1. Nick says:

    GSM technology cell phones from the USA will work. T-mobile and AT*T will work as long as you let the provider know you want it unlocked for international use.

    Additionally, I have bought over a dozen phones on amazon.com and used them in Costa Rica. Costa Rica uses GSM 1900 MhZ so be sure the phone you bring into Costa Rica has the right chip in it and you can move it to Costa Rica without any problems. They’re available from $10 for a simple flip phone and go up to $800 for the most up to date data phone.

    Now that you have an unlocked phone there you need a phone number. Non-residents/tourists/etc, can go into any ICE store and purchase a pre-paid chip. Load it with as much money or minutes as you like. It takes about 5 minutes to do at any ICE and all they need is a copy of your passport. Because there is no contract it is a simple transaction.

    There are many ICE locations across the country. Try to find one at a mall where they tend to be less busy than the ones in the center of town. San Isidro has two offices. One is always busy and the second, smaller one, rarely has more than 2 or 3 people in line.

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