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TDMA System Will Not Be Discontinued – 3G Coming with Reduced Service

November 27th, 2009

cellAs many of my readers know, there are two cell phone systems here.  One is called TDMA, also known ss “the old system” and equally accurate, “The system that actually works!”.

The second is GSM and truly  is lousy, but requires a more expensive phone that is more sexy, and everyone knows, women go for a guy with a sexy phone even if it does not work. The GSM system was installed by Alcatel a French company, apparently after they paid a few bribes to various government and ICE officials.  As a matter of fact, January marks the month for the trial of still another ex-president of Costa Rica who alledgedly accepted the chorizo (bribe).  Costa Rica seems to routinely send ex-presidents to jail, the last one just a few weeks ago!

So what is happening? If this topic interests you, read on!

ICE has been threatening to discontinue the TDMA system for a long time but has now backtracked.  This is because, as a result of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), they have lost their monopoly and now face the possibility of having competition, a dirty word for sure.

ICE’s president, Pedro Pablo Quirós stated that cancelling the TDMA service might give people the option to move to a competing network.  WOW!  Nothing gets by THAT guy!  Imagine anyone considering switching from ICE after so many years of superb customer service!  Why… the mind fairly boggles… but this is true.

He also states that customers currently using TDMA will be able to choose to stick with the service or move to the 3G when it is available in December and they will be able to keep their numbers.

That brings up the new Third Generation (3G) system rolling out next month with 950,000 lines. Well, it seems there are a few problems!

1. ICE is already hedging by complaining that “someone” is buying up all the good tower sites.  Imagine! Someone apparently got their hands on the list locations ICE needed and made deals with the owners of the land making ICE search for alternate spots and negotiate a purchase. Oh the PAIN. It seems clear ICE has not yet gotten clear on what it means to be in a free market!


2. When the 3G system does roll out, it will only have calling, text messaging, Internet (sort of) and voicemail. All the cool goodies will be rolled out “at a later date”.  Hmmmm!

So to all the many folks who have asked my advice on this topic, I would suggest you wait.

Wait to buy those new and much more expensive 3G phones.

Wait to see who else enters the market for cell service.

Wait to see if THIS system works better than the old 2G GSM system.  If ICE has not solved the tower issue, you might be a very unhappy camper.

Wait to see who DID buy up all those “good” tower locations and see what they will offer.

Wait for some sucker (maybe me) to buy a 3G and thoroughly and honestly review it… probably in six months IF the new goodies become available.

10 Responses to “TDMA System Will Not Be Discontinued – 3G Coming with Reduced Service”

  1. Will on November 27, 2009 8:11 pm

    I suppose this is not really all that shocking. Hopefully too many people didn’t go out and invest in high price phones thinking that it would be rolled out as advertised.

  2. Andreu on November 28, 2009 6:23 am

    This is typical of the ma’ bell of old. AT&T stills reverts to its monopolistic practices and approaches. Talking to any iPhone user (sucker) in the States will tell you that they do not get everything they were promised. It took AT&T 3 years to implement the MMS they promised! Smart iPhone users jailbroke their phone and use it on competing carriers like T-Mobile. They enjoy far superior service on a carrier that acts more like competition and less like the only game in town.

  3. Bob Gieser on November 28, 2009 7:49 am

    Not to divert from your original thread, but one of your paid advertisers, Acetelecom.com sounds great on their rental rates and use of tri-band and quad band cell phones to be able to cover the areas, not just GSM. Is this a partial answer/relief to the would -be traveler to Costa Rica?

  4. Tim on November 28, 2009 9:56 am

    They are NOT a paid advertiser. Perhaps Google?

    I have no idea who they are and always warn folks against using companies NOT in Costa Rica.

    In any case, it is 100% sure they are using the the GSM system, that as I explained, truly is BAD.

    Your call if you wish to use them. A local company like http://www.cellphonescr.com might be safer.

  5. Martin on November 28, 2009 11:05 am

    Digicel is coming in a few months, or so says one of their salesmen. We were in Volcan, Panama and there were three teams of two salespeople each hawking $17 phones with free 600 minutes between Digicel users. ICE is going to get smooshed.

  6. Cy Bolinger on November 29, 2009 8:09 am

    Thanks for keeping me informed. My GSM phone sucks, but I know it is semi-dependable. No use in buying the 3G until you have tested it.
    Is your wife recovering well from her surgery? I hope so.
    Cy Bolinger

  7. M.Valle on December 1, 2009 12:15 pm

    I hae two phones, TDMA one for the countryside and the GSM phone for the city.

    I have learned to always buy the cheapest phone. The system can’t support any advance features and theft is a big problem anyway.

  8. miguel on December 1, 2009 11:33 pm

    Hay que bueno!!!tres dias en a roll…a new record of late…keep up the good work! We all appreciate your posts! All helpful info. Muchas Garsias…Glad to hear your wife came through surgery fine. Wishing you and your family Season’s Best!

    Mi esposa y yo are planning to visit Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Chile y otro pais tambien maybe in this order este mes…si usted quiere algo de Los Estados Unidos…let me know! Usted tiene mi e-mail address.

  9. pissyrabbit on January 19, 2010 1:37 pm

    I have an iphone that I bought in the states and had it jail broken when I moved here. We easily got a 3G card from ICE (however FYI for people who want to switch, you are going to have to change your phone #. Brilliant!)
    I’ve had no problems with the 3G service. Its a little slow compared to the states but some days its better than my wireless. Im guessing thats because no one is using it yet, which is a huge problem in the states. The more people use it, the slower or less available it is. There are a few more rural places where it doesn’t work so Id say if you live in one of those places its probably no good for you right now.
    just my 2¢

  10. Christine on March 25, 2010 10:27 am

    I plan to bring my ‘unlocked’ Pantech Matrix 3G to Costa Rica next month. I was hoping to buy a prepaid SIM card, or go to ICE and buy a SIM cardand get an actual account. Does anyone have experience with either one of these options?