San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Slow Uptake On New Cell Lines

It took a while, but the long wait is finally over: New cellular phone lines are available. The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) started offering the 340,000 lines on Monday.

But Ticos have not been as quick to buy up the lines as the national phone monopoly expected. Fewer than 4,000 people a day are signing up, said ICE spokesman Elbert Durán. Attendants were poised for more than twice that number.

By Thursday, just over 11,000 lines had been sold.

“We’d planned for about 10,000 customers a day – it’s much less than that,” Durán said. But he added that it could speed up. “Tuesday saw more people than Monday,Wednesday more than Tuesday.”

The lines, however, come with restrictions.

For one thing, only people with stateissued ID cards – obtained through residency or a registered company – can get one, and each person is limited to a single line (company ID cards can have two lines).

Also, the lines cannot be used “to change technologies,” according to an ICE press release. That is, if you already have one of the lines with the old TDMA technology that only works on a limited number of phones, tough luck.


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