Costa Rica's Evolving Technologies
When I first moved to Costa Rica in 2007, my friends and family back home asked me what it was like. Was there cable television? Cell phones? High-speed Internet? My answers were yes, yes, and yes, but with the proviso that Costa Rican technologies weren't quite up to U.S. standards or expectations. That statement is not true today: Costa Rica may be considered a developing nation, but its technologies have advanced considerably.
There are two main cable companies in Costa Rica, but a handful of regional providers also exist. Between them, Costa Ricans enjoy hundreds of cable television channels, many in English – CNN, HBO, HGTV, E! and Food Network, to name a few. Where cable isn't yet available, Sky's satellite network delivers over 200 channels including Syfy, Fox, Nick, BBC World News, and MTV. And if that's not enough, Netflix Instant, iTunes and DivTV now provide streaming video – movies and television – direct to Costa Rican home via high-speed Internet connect.
Cell Phone Services
In 2007, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) forced Costa Rica's cell phone market to open. Today, residents have access to multiple cell phone companies that provide not only GSM and 3G, but also 4G services. You can now purchase prepaid (pay-as-you-go) cell phone minutes, subscribe to post-paid service, or pay for cell phone packages complete with included minutes, text messaging (SMS) and mobile messaging (MMS). Very soon, the country's three major cell phone companies – Claro, Kolbi and Movistar – will introduce monthly iPhone 4s and Windows Phone services.
High-speed Internet via cable, DSL, 3G and even line-of-sight wireless (WIMAX) are prevalent in the Central Valley, and are slowly expanding to other parts of the country. Cable Internet speeds are fastest, reaching 6 MB download and 1 MB upload, and ADSL follows with up to 4 MB up/768 Kbps down. WIMAX services hit speeds of 2 MB up/1 MB down, and 3G Internet currently maxes out at 1 MB for downloads. These speeds are generally fast enough to make voice-over-IP (VOIP) Internet calls, watch YouTube and even use streaming video services like Netflix.