Before prepaid options were available and when 3G had yet to arrive in the country, getting wired for the internet was notoriously difficult for foreigners. Accounts had to be in the names of Costa Rican citizens who were forced to wait in endless lines with stacks of documents and IDs. For short term travellers who couldn’t sign 12 month contracts, the only options were Internet cafes and Wi-Fi hotspots.
In 2011, Costa Rica opened up their telecommunications networks to private companies which are finally giving the hated, government-controlled monopoly (I.C.E) some much needed competition. Now there are several options available to travelers or expats who want relatively fast Internet without being tied to a contract.
Japi is the first company to launch a 4G network in Costa Rica. They provide internet service to the greater metropolitan area and boast download speeds of up to 6 Mbps. Customers have the choice of buying or renting a USB stick, Mi-Fi or Wi-Fi router or an outdoor antennae to connect to the network. Prepaid plans can be purchased for periods as short as one hour and monthly rates start at $22 and go up to $135 for faster speeds. All plans include unlimited download data. The routers give you the extra benefit of being able to set up a wireless network and connect multiple devices just as if you were using Wi-Fi with a cable modem at home.
3G USB Dongle
In order to connect, you must first purchase the USB dongle which costs around $30, then purchase a SIM card which can be used in a phone or be inserted into a computer’s USB port. Plans can be purchased for one hour up to one month and vary slightly in price. Speeds fluctuate but usually hover around 1 Mbps.
Most of the plans offered by the companies above are similar, but since Kolbi is owned by the state, travelers can buy SIM cards at kiosks right inside the airport.
One thing to keep in mind though, is that while the SIM card can be removed from the USB port and inserted into a phone, you will not be able to receive calls while the card is in the USB dongle in the computer. You can however, receive and respond to texts which show up in the companion software provided by the company.
If you know of any other Internet options please let us know in the comments!