Satellite Internet In Costa Rica

Is anyone using satellite internet here?  I'm moving to a very remote area and need to use a satellite.  Would like to hear from anyone as to their experiences and costs.

Thank you much!
- Expat Dave

Hi Dave,
We use Claro internet via a portable wifi device. They will have a map of whether it will work in your area. However they said it didn't work in our area but it does, and well.

Here's some important info on Claro:

The quality of service and info sucks, at the offices here. They have no clue and give outright wrong information. They screwed us several times before they finally got it right, and we had to cancel one contract which took 2 hours in their office to create and 2 hours to cancel!... and so we had to switch to prepaid/prepago. Then we wasted 2 x $18mil payments on the prepaid before they explained to us correctly how to recharge it... to keep it from going to a phone plan instead which eats net data much faster.

So here's the scoop:

The contracts are all for service that is LIMITED TO 15 GIGS PER MONTH of data. It may be 5-10mbps but it is limited to 15 gigs of data per month which means if you download stuff or even watch a lot of videos online, you may be completely out of data in 3-5-7 days... and then they throttle your 5mbps back to 250kb per second which won't even allow you to get your email!

Of course they don't TELL you this and so when you run out of service in 3 days after signing up for your 5mbps service via 2 year contract, and call tech support, they say "Well, you used up all your allotted data for the month!"
"What? I was never told it was Limited!"
Too bad, you lose, do not pass go, do not collect your 5mbps monthly service!

Okay, so the monthly contracts are horrible as are the office personnel who don't bother to explain it's Limited during the 2-3 hours you're creating your contract.

So the answer - the only answer - as it turns out, is to buy a wifi unit that fits in a shirt pocket for around $70. With that you get a max of 2mbps service on a PREPAGO (prepaid) service basis which costs about $34/month (17,500 colones plus 500 colones to activate it).

It works pretty good where we live. We do have to move it around from window to window at times to get it to work but it does work, pretty much all the time.

2mbps is incredibly slow but for just surfing the net and reading email it is fine, and believe it or not we can actually watch Netflix on it but Amazon Prime doesn't work well and sometimes neither does youtube, depending on what you're watching. I let stuff download for hours while not "surfing" the net, that's the advantage of unlimited data service. We do have a strong Claro signal here, though, so your mileage may vary.

When discussing satellite wifi internet, it is all about location, location, location. What may work well on my finca may not work well on yours though it's only 1/2 mile away, so test it first. To test you can buy a chip for your phone for $3-4 and try it (prepago) from your location before investing in the wifi unit.

Make sure they know you're buying an internet chip, not a phone chip - they're 2 different things, and the phone chip won't provide nearly as good of internet. Unfortunately you have to assume the Claro personnel will give you the wrong one anyway, which they did for us, so ask them "Are you SURE this is an internet chip, NOT a phone service chip???" If you're super lucky maybe they'll get it right, but don't count on it. They knew the chip was for our wifi unit (obviously internet only) but still gave us the wrong chip! Twice!'ve.ever.dealt.with! Period.
BUT their service for wifi internet does work once you get it sorted out.

Oh, one more thing:
You can't just go in and pay for your  prepago service whenever you want, to recharge it for the next month.
You have to wait until the service expires, drive into a Claro office or agent office, pay the 18mil monthly service, and send a message to Claro to activate it.

This is very complicated to do:
You take the chip out of your wifi unit and put it in your phone which you've also taken the chip out of, and make sure DATA is turned off on your phone before beginning or it will immediately start eating your money and you won't have the necessary 17,500 colones of service to recharge your monthly 30 day account. (500 extra colones are charged for this purpose, but even so I've had it eat the 500 colones immediately and have to buy another 500 colones worth).

So you put the wifi unit chip in your phone and immediately send a message to Claro # 555 that says "30DIAS". That activates your wifi chip for another 30 days.

Then you take the chip out of your phone and put it in the wifi unit and put the phone chip back in the phone and you're on your way.

Simple and convenient, right?

Thanks for the info - and for the laughs.  I'm still living just outside San Ramon now and do use Claro for TV.  I've been trying to discontinue the use of HBO, since I never watch it, for three months now.  They still haven't figured it out and of course are happy to continue to charge me for it.  I can see how the Internet would be a real nightmare.  (Best part was moving your connection from window to window to get a signal.)

My daughter is moving her parrot rescue center to an area of San Carlos -waaaay out.  Just too many people around us here.  We're purchasing about 80 hectares of land for the birds that she rescues and to hopefully help repopulate the Great Green Macaws that are critically endangered.  And will continue to do the same with Yellow-Naped Amazons and Red Scarlet Macaws.

...anyway, Claro is the only thing I've found so far and they are worthless according to people we've talked to in the area.  I'm checking into installing a satellite dish which isn't too bad - about $2,000 install, but the monthly fees I've seen so far are comical - $250 per month or more.

I shall keep searching.  Thanks for the laughs - it is the only way to survive here.  You just have to laugh at the way things "don't" work here.

-Expat Dave

Glad you saw the humor in it.
Good luck with the net, and with the birds!
Are there scarlet macaws then in the San Ramon area or do you go other places to rescue them?
We have a lot of parrots up here west of SR! Not sure what kind they are but there are thousands of them it seems.
My favorite are the ones with yellow and blue faces. Only saw them once but they were beautiful.
Most are green with red wings.

p.s. We didn't find the Claro fiasco at all funny when we started with them.

They over-charged us over $100 which they refused to compensate us for even though it was clearly their lack of clear information that was the problem, and we had to make several unnecessary trips from our farm out in the boonies to San Ramon to deal with these problems.

Even now, when our service expires and we make the trip into their office to recharge it, half the time this happens:

They say "Sorry, our service is down so we can't recharge it now!"
"When will it be back up?"
"We don't know. You may want to try again tomorrow."

I have learned it doesn't pay to get angry, but it IS frustrating.

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