San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

CE Gives Prepaid Phones a Test Run

The Costa Rican Electricity Institute has launched a pilot plan for the long-awaited prepaid mobile phone program that it said will ultimately be extended to non-residents.

The plan is a first step forward from the current monthly-contract-only billing system, which is restricted to card-carrying legal residents, long a hurdle for temporary visitors.

ICE started the plan last week, selecting and notifying some 5,000 mobile users for a first phase, which is planned to lead into a full-fledged service in March or April, said Adolfo Arias, ICE’s services director.

The Public Services Regulatory Authority has agreed on a cost for three prepaid cards: ¢2,500 (about $4.55), ¢5,000 ($9.09) and ¢10,000 ($18.18).

The pilot plan is set to run until January, when ICE will activate a second phase, offering prepaid service to 30,000 people including non-resident visitors, Arias said.

“Phase 3 will be for all customers that want the service, for which we will have a new prepaid platform for up to 2 million accounts and it is expected that this will be in March or April of 2009, and it will no longer be a pilot plan but an official commercial launch,” Arias wrote.

–Alex Leff


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