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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.

ICE, your friendly local telecommunications monopoly is now seeking a charge 4,000 colones per month (about $8.00 US) for this access. As the New and Improved GSM phone service is supposed to provide better service, they may actually get some subscriptions from those who read and believe the publicity.

The sad thing is that cellular Internet service will continue to be so slow as to make anything other than checking email an almost impossible task. The new service will offer a 56k connect speed… Equivalent to modem service.

ICE has been firmly against the Central America Free Trade Agreement (TLC) as they are fearful of job loss. They wield incredible power in Costa Rica. The tide seems to be changing though as Costa Ricans tire of high rates, poor service, and generally crummy customer service. Should the TLC pass, ICE will most certainly have to improve there services in all areas.

What is still a bit odd and I do not understand, is that the only ICE employees who need worry about their jobs are those who are just not doing their jobs. The ones that ARE, (and there are many!) will either continue to work at ICE, but with higher wages, or will gravitate to foreign service providers who will come to Costa Rica offering better training, wages and benefits.

In my businesses here, I am a heavy user of ICE cell service and I have already noticed a HUGE improvement in (business) client support. This improvement has still not trickled down to the average Tico however, and user’s impatience is beginning to show as more and more. Recent polls show strong support for change. The TLC would, over time, eliminate the stranglehold of the big three monopolies in Costa Rica: Telecommunications, Insurance, and CAJA.

A note: My reference to the TLC here is not one of support or non support… only that in the case of prices and services in telecommunications, it is my opinion that the TLC will likely result in lower prices and better service for all Costa Rica.

2 Responses to “Extra Charge Coming for Cellular Internet Service”

  1. Shea Dutton on February 16, 2006 2:58 pm

    I’m just curious about your mention of CAJA. Isn’t that the social security insurance program? I always thought it was extremely inexpensive, albeit frustrating when one has to wait so long. I am planning to sign up as soon as I get my residency, since they accept pre-existing conditions and I have rheumatoid arthritis for which I need medication and occasional checkups.
    I have read a lot about CAFTA and the CR reluctance to vote in favor of it. I don’t know enough about the situation to form an opinion, since I am still in the US right now.
    I would be interested in getting your reply re: my first comment.
    Thanks, Shea

  2. Tim on February 17, 2006 1:18 pm

    CAJA is the SS of Costa Rica… I am sorry, but I do not understand what is your question.