Includes information on internet accessibility, the cellular phone technology in use, which U.S. cell phone services work in this country, the prevalence of Wi-Fi in hotels, what types of voltage and plugs are used, and other technological information of interest to U.S. businesses.
Last Published: 7/31/2017
ICE (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad) has been Costa Rica’s traditional monopoly provider of telecommunications, internet and electricity services. In the country telephone coverage is extensive.  U.S. visitors have experienced difficulty in using their GSM phones in Costa Rica, due to differences in the frequency band used in each country.

In 2011, the two new cellular phone competitors to ICE, Mexico-based America Movil, known locally as “Claro,” and Spanish provider, Telefonica, known locally as “Movistar”, launched their services. 

Service providers of voice communication over internet connections (VOIP) for overseas calls are licensed and regulated under the new telecommunications regime.

The accessibility and use of the internet is growing rapidly in the country as technology improves, going from 2.1 million internet subscriptions in 2011, to 5.4 million in 2015, as per the latest Report of Sutel (May 2016). This same report highlights how access to internet has been expanded for users of mobile internet. The report states that fixed internet subscriptions are still at 12% of the population and 39% of households. The report states that 65% of the total mobile subscriptions have internet, reaching 101% of population. ICE is the main provider of internet services in Costa Rica. 

Internet usage for cellular phones is prevalent in urban areas.  Internet cafes are available in some areas (especially in San José), and Wi-Fi in hotels and restaurants continues to expand, particularly in the Central Valley. RACSA, a subsidiary of ICE, has offered 20,000 WiMax connections in Santa Ana, San Jose, Alajuela, Desamparados, Heredia and Cartago. ICE plans to expand the program to the additional Central Valley locations of Curridabat, San Isidro de Coronado, Santo Domingo, San Isidro de Heredia, Barreal de Heredia, Alajuela, Ciudad Colon and Paraiso in Cartago.  However, in many rural areas internet connectivity can be limited and slow.

During the first quarter of 2014, fourth-generation wireless technology (4G) was introduced in the wireless and internet sectors and is available in the major urban areas.

For more information, visit either ICE’s website or Sutel’s webpage.

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