San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Far Away Places Need Internet Service, Too

Dear Tico Times:

I’m a Tica and a fan of The Tico Times. I use your newspaper’s articles and ads for my classes. Thanks for being so constant throughout the years, during the ups and downs.

I have a huge concern, and I hope you can help me find the answer. I live in Grecia, Alajuela, in the mountainous area, and so do a lot of Americans. Now, we all share the same problem: the Internet service. We haven’t found a steady, serious alternative to bad ol’ RACSA or ICE. Are there any alternatives? There was a company, Puro Wireless, which provided Internet service, but it suddenly seems to have vanished without any notice or explanation…Where are they? Are there any good companies offering satellite or efficient Internet in CR for far away places?

Patricia Salazar

San Isidro de Grecia

Sources close to Puro Wireless told The Tico Times this week that the company had closed due to “difficult economic circumstances.” The same sources were unsure whether the company would resume operations in the future.

Rosemary Monge, a spokeswoman for the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), the state-owned telecommunications monopoly, told The Tico Times she had never heard of Puro Wireless. She said the company would have been operating without government permission.

Monge said that only two private companies – AMNET and Cable Tica – have concessions to provide private Internet service.

Both companies use ICE’s already existing communications infrastructure, which has proven problematic. Because of signal limits, neither company is able to provide service that reaches Salazar’s neighborhood.

Monge was unsure whether it would be feasible to build a tower or run cables to Salazar’s community because of the distance from the main town in the area.

“It depends on many things,” she said. “The zoning and topography of the area may not permit the infrastructure.”

The Superintendant of Telecommunications (SUTEL) will open Costa Rica’s market to private communications companies next January, and this could allow new companies to provide service in remote areas. However, SUTEL as yet has not approved any applications from Internet service providers.

Monge did not know when those applications might be approved.

Until then, Salazar and her neighbors will have to live as they did just over a year ago – without Internet.

“It’s a shame, we were so happy when Puro Wireless came,” she said. “Our prayers had been answered, and then they disappeared.”

As a service to Tico Times readers, “Get Answers” will dig up information, try to solve problems, bridge language gaps and just generally help wherever it can. Please send your queries to “Get Answers” at The Tico Times by mail, fax or e-mail. We can’t promise miracles, but we’ll do the best we can.


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