San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Cell Phone Lines Draw Eager Buyers

By mid-morning Tuesday, lines were already snaking down the streets of San José as people waited to get their hands on one of the 40,000 GSM cell phone lines the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) had just released. The Tico Times received reports of people missing work to face hour-long waits at distributors authorized to sell the lines – a hot commodity here.

GSM lines are also being issued at ICE agencies by appointment only, but the 16,000 appointments made available May 10 have been taken, according to ICE spokesman Elbert Durán. The remaining 24,000 lines are being sold at commercial distributors.

“They sold at a rhythm of about 1,000 per hour and we expect this to continue,” Durán said Tuesday, adding that at this rate, ICE will run out of lines within days.

Those unable to get a line can get on a waiting list by calling 115, Durán said. Approximately 40,000 additional lines will likely be released in about three months. The lines released Tuesday were revoked from clients who failed to pay their bills.

About 100,000 cell phone lines that use the older TDMA technology are also available through ICE.


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