San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

RACSA Offers Free Internet At More than 50 Points

In many major shopping areas, libraries and universities in Costa Rica, Internet is available, and free, thanks to Radiográfica Costarricense S.A. (RACSA), the stateo-wned

Internet provider.

RACSA, which began the Program for Free Internet Access in 2007, has extended the service to more than 50 locations throughout the country, the company announced last week.

“One of our priorities was to decrease the digital gap,” said Alberto Bermúdez, general manager of RACSA. “We implemented the Program for Free Internet Access in 2007, and we will keep developing it in the future to facilitate Internet access to as much of the population as possible.”

The news came as RACSA prepares for competition from national and foreign telecom companies after legislators voted to end the state monopoly last year – one of the liberalizing reforms required for Costa Rica to enter the Central American Free- Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA).

Currently, RACSA supplies free Internet access at JuanSantamaríaInternationalAirport in Alajuela, northwest of San José, at the Multiplaza Escazú, west of the capital, and at most of the other large shopping malls that dot the Central Valley. The state provider also offers Web service at public libraries and several universities, such as Fidélitas, Universidad Católica and UNED (StateUniversity at a Distance).

Last month, RACSA announced it will provide Internet access at Costa Rica’s remote Isla de Coco National Park. With exploration and research consistently being undertaken on the island, Internet will be available to facilitate the efforts of university researchers as well as aid in the enforcement duties of the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry.

According to RACSA, 45 percent of the Costa Rican population uses Internet. This percentage is more than double the worldwide average per country, which stands at 21 percent.

–Adam Williams

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