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Well ICE ALMOST Got It Right!

March 20th, 2008

So it was maybe 5:30AM, my normal get-up time, and I am “sleeping in” with my bride. Today is a feriado (holiday) and I figure maybe 7:30 is lookin’ good.

Then, my mind starts thinking… “After so many years in Costa Rica, when has ICE (our friendly local telecommunications monopoly) EVER gotten something right the first time!”. So I reach over to the bed side table and make a test phone call.

Sure enough, ICE has done it AGAIN! They switched to the new calling plan 24 hours early!!!! I have web sites to update, both my customers and my own… notification calls… all originally scheduled for tomorrow morning. Sheesh!

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The Change to 8 Digit Dialing draws near

February 29th, 2008

On March 20, 2008, how you dial a number in Costa Rica is going to change. This not only affects those of us IN Costa Rica, it also will affect those in foreign lands who make call TO Costa Rica.

If you fall into either of the above categories, by all means read on!

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TLC – A Civics Lesson

October 7th, 2007

Today is the Big Day.

Today the citizens of Costa Rica go to the polls to vote for or against approval of the Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) or in English, the Free Trade Agreement with the USA.

Copies of the TLC are currently available online, but only the brave need download and read entirely this document. It is mammoth and confusing and requires a huge amount of cross referencing to other places within the document. I admit that I tried, got through maybe 30% of it, then spent a little more time looking only for certain things like the effect on ICE (communications) and insurance. Thus here is my disclaimer that I am not an expert.

This is the first public referendum in the history of Costa Rica, and I will say that I am very impressed! They did this right and all Costa Ricans should be very proud of themselves and their country.

There have been debates, presentations and countless meetings given almost daily by both sides in all parts of Costa Rica. What has to be clear to all who live here is that any Costa Rican who wanted to learn about this document has had almost unlimited resources at their disposal to do so. The point is… if you wanted to learn, you could.

Some did. Some did not. Here is what I found.

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ICE Incapable of Satisfying the Internet Needs of Costa Rica

September 14th, 2007

Wow! Whatta surprise, huh? That was one of the headlines in yesterday’s La Nacion. It seems that once again, our friendly local communications monopoly has been caught totally unawares by the now 15 year old Internet revolution. Apparently, someone in the “strategic planning group” felt that the unprecedented growth of the Internet world-wide simply was not going to affect little old Costa Rica. According to this article, some 36 localities are affected to the point where new connections are very limited.

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Satellite Internet Service in Costa Rica

August 25th, 2007

Internet service is available all over Costa Rica. That is not to say it will be good Internet service, but at least you can connect. If you live outside of the central valley, the chances of getting a high speed connection drop considerably, though in fairness, many of the popular tourist destinations now have some high speed capability.

However, if you live in any of the many hundreds of other cities outside the central valley or the tourist spots, your only option is a telephone modem, or perhaps a (quite poorly working) connection using a GSM cell phone. Either way, you are getting not only a very slow connection speed but often unreliable service as well.

Over the past few years, there have been companies promoting satellite Internet service in Costa Rica. On the surface, this seems like a great idea for those needing a decent connection speed but who prefer to live outside the main population areas.

As I have written in The REAL Costa Rica, these installation are totally illegal in Costa Rica.

If this topic is of interest to you, read on…

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Costa Rica Cell Phone Update

November 22nd, 2006

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) – our friendly local state-run telecommunications monopoly has decided to purchase an entirely new GSM cell phone network rather than expand the current network.

Why is this a big deal? Because with this announcement, we know that it will be at least another year… more likely two-three years before cell phone (telephone) numbers can again be purchased. Believe it or not, this is probably good news.

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No More Cell Phone Lines… AGAIN!

October 20th, 2006

For most of the years I have been in Costa Rica, you could not just run down to your local cell phone store or to ICE and get a new phone line. You could always buy the PHONE but not the line. Nope… You had to wait. You had to place you name on a waiting list… and wait. Sometimes a year or two. Once your name came up on the list, you could buy a LINE (presuming you were a legal resident, a citizen, or owned a corporation), and have it installed on the phone.

Well thanks to your local friends at ICE (why YES!, The very same ones who are fighting the Free Trade Agreement tooth and nail), the good old days are returning!

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Extra Charge Coming for Cellular Internet Service

January 15th, 2006

Up until now, if you really didn’t care too much about using a GSM phone here in Costa Rica, you could at least feel good that when you phone DID have service, you also had free Internet access so you could check emails and do some browsing. That will soon begin to costa (sorry… I had to!) money.
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Surprise! The new GSM phones still don’t work!

December 18th, 2005

Costa Rica signed a contract with the Ericsen folks to update the GSM cell phone systems in Costa Rica. This was in the wake of the scandal that sent three ex-presidents to jail for allegedly accepting bribes from the French company that originally installed the OLD GSM system that never worked worth a hoot.
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