Costa Rica is becoming a popular destination for digital nomads and tech-connected retirees looking to continue living their lives online while living in the tropics. As a result, fiber optic internet solutions are becoming more available in our South Pacific region of Costa Rica.
Three years ago, one of the few high-speed internet providers available in Ojochal, Skyfiber, cost around $100 per month for 4 mbps download speed. Today, a handful of data providers are offering speeds of 50 mbps upload and download speed from around $50 per month. Read on to see some specifics of what our local Costa Ballena internet providers are offering in 2022.
Itellum – Costa Rica’s newest ‘Only Fiber’ provider
Itellum is one of Costa Ballena’s newest internet providers with a plan to be the regional leader in Premium Symmetric one-to-one internet. Their focus is on client services, catering to businesses and individuals, and offering 24/7 security and support, as well as a guarantee of 99.5% stability of their services. They are on their way to having the first satellite internet available in Costa Rica.
Itellum is a Costa Rica-based, privately owned and operated internet and telecommunications company with a focus on US and Central American markets. Among their plans are adding high speed standardized WiFi solutions. Key to their low-cost mantra are VoIP-based solutions which enable them to leverage the internet as the backbone wherever possible.
Kolbi – Costa Rica’s Biggest Telecom
Kolbi is Grupo ICE’s wireless communications and data company, which owns the lion’s share of Costa Rica’s telecom market. They offer home internet from 1 to 100 mbps and you can request the speed you want (1 mbps is $15 per month and 100 mbps is $47 per month, with various options in between). A modem must be rented additionally for a cost of around $2 per month.
Kolbi also offers fiber optic internet in its areas of service that extends up to 500 mbps, meaning that you can play games online, have uninterrupted video surveillance, telecommuting, and more all at once. Triple plans including phone minutes and television service are also available.
Edward, a business owner from Washington, has ICE Fiber Optic with a Kolbi modem. “Our internet is lightning fast. I do Zoom meetings and stream movies with no issues. I can tell no difference in speed and connection from what I had in the U.S.”
Fibra En Casa – Costa Ballena’s Best Fiber Optic Service
Fibra En Casa says that they offer the best fiber optic network in Costa Rica. Their office at the new Plaza Ventanas has been serving the Costa Ballena for many months with great reviews. They are focused on security, stability, and speed with their 100% fiber optic network. They offer the same bandwidth for both upstream and downstream, which is ideal for video games, video conferences, streaming, teleworking, and more.
Fibre En Casa is quite reliable. “I have only experienced one major disruption for a few hours,” says Darryl, “that was related to someone cutting the main cable. Their internet is as fast as promised.”
Fibra En Casa is the first company to offer fiber optic internet via a local transmitter to the higher-altitude homes where the majority of expats live. Experiences have been good so far over the year or so that people in Costa Ballena have had it installed. Their help-center and technicians are bilingual.
Many got the 25 mbps plan thinking it may not be robust enough for their multi-person occupancy property but it has been more than sufficient for most people’s needs.“25mbps is adequate for my home and rental house,” says Rob, a retiree living in Ojochal and renting his guest home. “It covers all of our needs. If you have at least 3mbps download speed, you won’t get any buffering at 1080 HD streaming. This is lightning fast.”
There may be a wait time for installation but it is generally no more than a few days. Rob says that he likes it “much better than the Kolbi router we had and waaay better customer service than others that we’ve previously used.”
Fibra En Casa user Ed says that “If you still experience constant slowness, it can be the fault of your router. It is best that you change the router to the one recommended by the provider.”
Cabletica – The Multi-Service Provider
Cabletica offers optical fiber optic internet that allows unlimited symmetric speeds and availability levels of 99.97% and exclusive 24×7 service. It offers wide coverage of its 100% proprietary fiber optic network. Their on-site support is within 8 hours in our South Pacific region and both the call center and technicians are generally Spanish-speaking only.
Cabletica offer speeds of 30 mbps for $35 per month up to 200 mbps for $42 (in select areas). Their bundles offer Cabletica satellite TV plus internet for around $120 per month.
Typical Questions About Internet in Costa Rica
“We have been here for three weeks now and for the last week or so, we have been losing the internet around five times a day. What is the best way to contact our service provider? My Spanish is not too good. Do they have WhatsApp?”
If your internet goes out, you can call your internet provider’s customer service number. Some companies, like Fibra En Casa, will communicate with customers over WhatsApp. The help-center will ask you to be on-site and call the service line to do diagnostics before they send a tech out.
Sometimes, the power will go out, such as when ICE is repairing lines, although this doesn’t happen often. It is important to have surge protectors on your electronics and to disconnect appliances when ICE is working on the lines. Power delay plugs can help with things like your fridge or stove that are difficult to move and unplug. They will keep power going for a few minutes, which is generally enough time to reestablish power.
“I have high-speed internet and a streaming device (like Kodi or Firestick) but I can’t stream live programming in Costa Rica.”
To get international channels through a streaming service, you will need a VPN service.
“My husband and I both work remotely. We have fiber internet, but for my husband’s job, we need a backup in case it goes out. We have AT&T and usually use the international plan. Has anyone used the mobile hotspot from their AT&T phone?”
International service providers will not work in Costa Rica, however there are local hotspot providers, like GlocalMe and Kolbi MiFi.
Alex, a medical practitioner working remotely while living in Ojochal, uses a lot of video conferencing and says that she used her corporation to set up a data plan with Kolbi. “I purchased an 18 gig per month data plan, which gives me enough video data to do about 3 days of 4 hours of video calling per day. It is super helpful for me because I need the continuity of the internet. I can’t have glitching video and I can’t have dropped calls for quality of care, and this extra sim card solution works well for me.
“Can I find any shared workspaces with great internet connections in Costa Ballena?”
There are a few offices for rent with high-speed internet, especially in Uvita, which has one of the fastest internet speeds available in Costa Rica. Prices are generally around $20 for 5 hours of work. SOMOS is one organization that offers shared a shared workspace with high-speed fiber-optic internet.
“How do I ensure a good internet connection at home? Do I need to buy a device here in Canada before I move? My sixteen-year-old is moving to Costa Rica with us and I know that access to the internet will be her chief concern.”
As long as there are above-ground power lines in Costa Rica, there will always be periodic power outages due to animals, trees, and elements coming in contact with powerlines or transformers. These outages almost never last more than a few minutes before the grid is reset. There is no device that you can bring that will give you better internet that you cannot get in Costa Rica, such as a good battery backup system. Plugging your router and modem into a battery backup system helps because it is rare that the internet signal goes out at the same time the power does, so your connection can go uninterrupted.