Many future expats are concerned about how fast the internet is here in Ecuador.
Back in November 2010 is the last time we wrote about internet in Ecuador.
Things have changed over the past 2.5 years.
When we first moved here, almost four years ago, the internet connection was very challenging. It was frequently cut – on a daily basis. Now, we go months between internet problems. Last Friday was the first time in more than six months that our TVCable connection was dropped. It has become very reliable.
Other expats in Cuenca still comment about how bad the connection is. The problem probably isn’t with the internet in general. It could be with the provider, router, or even the level of sharing (who else you share with) on your connection.
With TVCable, we have had nearly a flawless connection. And we have multiple devices online almost all the time. Video streaming (Netflix, Hulu and YouTube) works almost perfect.
In this post, I’ll break down specifics about the types and speeds of internet connections here in Ecuador. But first:
What is a Mega?
Internet speed in Ecuador is ranked as “megas” which is what many of us know as Mbps. For this post, I’ll be referring to the speeds as they are known here: megas.
The post is broken into Cuenca and national internet options. In every area, there are regional internet providers. If you have used them, please share them in the comments below.
Learn how to load balance two connections to create a single, more stable internet connection.
5 Internet Options in Cuenca, Ecuador
Grupo TVCable Certainly one of the biggest providers in the country. TV Cable has offices all over Ecuador (Guayaquil, Quito, Cuenca, Ambato, Ibarra, La Libertad, Loja, Machala, Manta, Portoviejo, Riobamba, Salinas, Tulcán). In addition to internet, they also offer tv cable (as their name would suggest) and telephone connections.
When we last wrote about internet, we had a 1.1 mega connection for $29.90. Their $29.90 connection now provides a speed of 4.1 megas. Almost four times the speed for the exact same price. Not bad.
Current TVCable Internet Speeds
- 2.6 Megas: $19.90
- 4.1 Megas: $29.90
- 5.6 Megas: $39.90
- 7.1 Megas: $49.90
- 16.5 Megas: $99.90
- 19 Megas: $114.90
Taxes (12%) are extra. As are two surcharges: $1.00 for administrative costs (for printing and delivering my invoice. I pay via auto withdraw from my bank) and $0.99 for PC Assistance (I’m not sure what this covers and I don’t think I signed up for this). We currently have the 7.1 mega connection and this costs $58.12 per month with all taxes and fees in. Connections are shared at an 8:1 ratio (known as: nivel de compartición). This is standard across all connections in Ecuador.
What Speed Do We Really Get?
While we are paying for a 7.1 mega connection, we are actually getting an average of more than 14 megas. I checked the speed with SpeedTest.net as I wrote this post and on a Friday night I am getting a 14.94Mbps download speed and 0.93Mbps. For our connection, they guarantee a minimum download speed of 6.1 megas and upload speed of 0.7625 megas (762.5kbps).
Visit: Grupo TVCable
ETAPA is a municipal owned corporation in Cuenca (Empresa Municipal de Cuenca). It functions alongside CNT (their national counterpart, see below). ETAPA provides internet, telephone, and drinking water in Cuenca. They also manage the Cajas National Park just outside of Cuenca.
Current ETAPA Internet Speeds
- 1.8 Megas: $19.99
- 2.4 Megas: $22.99
- 2.8 Megas: $24.99
- 3.6 Megas: $29.90
- 5.0 Megas: $39.90
- 6.1 Megas: $46.00
- 8.0 Megas: $64.00
- 10 Megas: $78.00
There is a $25 install charge which is credited after three months as a customer. Taxes are extra.
PuntoNet has offices in the major urban areas in Ecuador, including: Guayaquil, Quito, Cuenca, Ambato, Ibarra, La Libertad, Loja, Machala, Manta, Portoviejo, Riobamba, Salinas, Tulcán, Santo Domingo, Quevedo, Latacunga, Babahoyo, Azogues and El Coca.
Current PuntoNet Internet Speeds
- 1.7 Megas: $19.90
- 2.2 Megas: $24.90
- 3 Megas: $29.90
- 5 Mega: $49.90
What stands out about their offering is that their upload and download speeds are the same. This means if you share files or photos online, this will be a fast connection. Sharing is at 6:1 ratio. Install costs $50 (1-2 computers) or $75 for three computers. They limit connectivity to just 3 computers per connection.
Another option here in Cuenca is Centronet – a branch of CentroSur (the power company). They mount an antenna on your house and it receives a wireless signal that you can then run through your router and share with all your devices in your home.
A number of years ago I used this service and it was good. Their website is not up-to-date but you can contact them through the site. They also have a kiosk at Mall del Rio.
National Internet Options in Ecuador
Many regions have local providers. As far as I know, there are only three national providers: TVCable, PuntoNet (see above) and CNT.
CNT stands for: Corporación Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (National Telecommunications Corporation) and is the government-owned national telecommunications company. They offer telephone (home, business and cell), internet (wired and mobile) and satellite television.
CNT has an agreement with ETAPA (also a government owned company) to not provide service inside of Cuenca. So while they have an office downtown Cuenca, you must live out of the city limits to use them.
Current CNT Internet Speeds
The speeds need to be confirmed. All speeds are not available everywhere. In some areas, they offer a blanket 2 mega connection.
Fast Boy Internet Fijo
- 2 Megas: $18.00
- 3 Megas: $24.90
- 4 Megas: $36.00
- 6 Megas: $49.90
- 10 Megas: $60.00
- 15 Megas: $105.00
Speeds 2-6 megas have an upload speed of 500 Kbps. Speeds of 10-15 megas have an upload speed of 1000 Kbps.
There is an install fee of $50, but this is often waived when installed with the phone line. To use CNT internet, you must first have a phone line with them. The phone line costs around $70 to purchase (you actually own the number) and $6.00 per month plus usage. Be sure to confirm disponibilidad (availability) of phone lines in your area. Just because you are on a main road doesn’t mean you can get a phone line.
Cesacel is a small provider servicing small towns and regions around Cuenca. Towns include Santa Isabel, Girón, Nabón, San Fernando, Azogues and Biblián.
They offer internet via an antenna mounted on your roof. They are a little expensive but nice if there are no other options.
- 700 Kbps: $18.50
- 1 Mega: $23.50
- 1.2 Megas: $28.50
- 1.4 Megas: $33.50
- 2 Megas: $50.50
The install fee is around $70. Sharing is at a 6:1 ratio.
Mobile Internet Options in Ecuador
There are a number of mobile providers, including Claro, Movistar and CNT. I’ve owned both Claro and Movistar usb modems and they work fine.
Not ideal, but for travel or if/when your other connection goes out, they aren’t a bad option. Unless you are only sending an email a few times a week, I don’t recommend these modems as a primary connection.
Free Internet Connections in Ecuador
While they aren’t as common as in Canada or the United States, you can find free internet here. Many of the malls (all of the large ones) and the airports have free internet. There are some restaurants, but this isn’t that common. Your best best is to go to one of the malls and connect there.
Of course, most hotels have free internet as well.
The Bottom Line
Lots of information. Here are my recommendations if you are just arriving in Ecuador.
- If you are going to live in Cuenca, I recommend TV Cable. They offer the best speed for the price. And they are very stable.
- If you are going to live outside of Cuenca, you should check out CNT first. If they have a connection available in your area, you should sign up.
While there are other options, there is a reason these are the biggest providers in the country.
What company do you use? Did I miss any? Please share your experiences below.