A Canadian Family Traveling & Living Abroad (in Ecuador)


What is the Internet Like in Ecuador?

TVCable Cuenca Internet

TV Cable Pricing Chart

Update (May 18, 2013): There is a updated Ecuador internet post. Read about the 5 options in Cuenca and the three national internet providers: speeds, costs and availability.

Here in Cuenca, there are lots of options for an internet connection. TV Cable, ETAPA, CentroNet all offer high speed connections. Porta and Movistar each offer a usb modem connection.

So what’s the internet like in Ecuador? Here’s a breakdown:

  • TV Cable seems to be the leader. They offer the fastest connection speed with the lowest price. As often happens with the leader, their customer service really sucks. As long as you don’t have to go to cancel, you should be fine. Their monthly rates range from $13.40 (220k) to $114.90 (3500k). We use the 1100k speed at $29.90 and its good. Taxes are extra.
  • ETAPA is run by the municipality and they offer a 350k speed at $19.99 up to a 2100k for $80 plus tax.
  • CentroNet is okay. We’ve used them for the last 8 months, but have switched back to TV Cable. They are a good option if you live out of range of either of the first two. They are more expensive and slower speed. They use a roof top modem to pickup a wireless signal from their towers. The signal is consistent.
  • Porta and Movistar are the two primary cell phone companies here in Ecuador and they each sell a usb thumb modem.
ETAPA Cuenca Internet

ETAPA Cuenca Internet Rate Sheet

With Porta and Movistar thumb modems you have two options:

  1. A monthly plan with a limit on the volume of data that can be transferred. A 2 GB monthly plan costs around $20. While this isn’t any good for watching videos, and average of 67mb per day is plenty for some web browsing and emailing. The modem is free.
  2. A Pay-As-You-Go service that costs around $3 per day. They offer an unlimited connection for the 24 hour period, although the speed appears to be throttled after the first 100mb. The modem is bought outright, and costs from $80 to $120.

These modems are a great option if you are traveling around the country, or if you are only going to be here for a short period. As a rule of thumb, if you have cell phone coverage you will have internet access.

An article by

Bryan is a journalist, photographer, expat and dad. He writes for Gringos Abroad (Ecuador travel and living) and Blogger Abroad (run an online business abroad). He also enjoys living in Southern Ecuador (South America) with his wife and daughter. Connect with Bryan on LinkedIn.

More about: Cuenca Ecuador, Living in Ecuador

{ 15 comments… add one }

  • Flora December 18, 2012, 5:14 am

    Hi Bryan, I’m bringing my iPad with me to Cuenca and want to look into getting a 3g network SIM – do you know anything about that? Which provider is the best etc? Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines December 18, 2012, 9:57 am

      It depends on where you’ll be living/traveling – but Claro is generally the strongest network. I would start with them.

      Reply
      • Flora December 18, 2012, 6:32 pm

        Thanks for the reply! I’ll be in Cuenca for five months teaching so definitely would like a good network for that period – then I”m travelling around the surrounding so it will be less of an issue. But 3g for 5 months is definitely appreciated! Thanks, I’ll look into Claro :)

        Reply
  • Ed Medlin September 3, 2012, 9:55 am

    First, we wish to thank you for the website. We plan to visit Ecuador (using Cuenca as our base of operations) in 2013, in part to scout it for future relocation (we are retired). The information on your site has addressed many/most of our questions.

    Second, in regard to internet bandwidth, in addition to having a second means of access as a backup, it is possible to use a “load balancing” router to utilize two internet sources simultaneously. Several companies produce such routers for the home and small office market. In the U.S., one probably would cost between $120 and $160. These generally are not wireless routers, but adding a wireless access point, router or bridge would be neither expensive nor difficult.

    I am not presently need/use such a configuration, but may have enough IT knowledge to answer any relevant questions, without technical jargon.

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines September 4, 2012, 9:39 am

      Thanks Ed – I’ve never heard of a load balancing router but it sounds like a great idea. Can you send me the specifics? I just purchased a high end router on Amazon – it should arrive in a week or so. I would be interested to publish this. Let me know!

      Bryan

      Reply
  • John Mauldin December 15, 2011, 6:38 pm

    Glad this site has answers to my concerns over internet availability. I operate an internet based business and if I cannot get an connection, I am out of business! Anyone know anything about connections at the coast? Air Filter Manufacturer

    Reply
  • Jim Cohoon November 17, 2011, 9:39 am

    Hi Bryan, do you know where the TVCable office is in Cuenca? Is there more than one office?

    Reply
  • P & E October 1, 2011, 10:03 am

    How many Mb is required to get streaming video? Our landlord has TVCable, but we need to tell her how fast we want. Will 2.5 Mb do the job?

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines October 1, 2011, 10:06 am

      Hi P & E, great question. I took this excerpt from Wikipedia:

      A broadband speed of 2.5 Mbit/s or more is recommended for streaming movie

      So looks like you’ll be fine, although a little faster might be better.

      Reply
  • Jo Reason September 26, 2011, 9:13 am

    Remember these are options for Cuenca, in the north of Ecuador CNT is now the best option for fixed line phones and internet. Cheapest too is you choose the cheapest option. They have various prices for the service depending on the speed you need. We have the basic cheaper option costs around 22 USD a month.We watch plenty of videos over the internet, we have to let them load and watch once they have loaded completely. They have now just started a thumb USD unlimited option for around 27 USD a month.
    In other areas you get other providers.

    Reply
  • Jim Cohoon September 26, 2011, 7:54 am

    We’re using ETAPA in Racar and it’s very poor service. We’ll be changing soon if we can get TVCable out here. Otherwise we may wait until we move down to the city in a couple of months.

    Bryan, can you tell me if your TVCable service for $30 is good for Skype video chat?

    Reply
  • Jeff December 11, 2010, 9:51 am

    We had TVCable here in the condo building we're in. The wiring was so bad that they had to come out and bring more service into the building, the replace connectors.

    After that, ours never worked again, and that was about the fifth outage.

    That's when I blew up. I ordered ETAPA and Puntonet. ETAPA's double deal is good (4.2 Mb/sec) for the price of 2.1. So I'm now paying $54.88 including tax for 4.2 instead of $113.01 including tax for 3.0 Mb with TVCable.

    I'd probablly stick with TVCable if we weren't in a condo building, or if I knew for certain the building was wired properly.

    Jeff

    Reply
  • Pat Grimm November 18, 2010, 4:09 am

    Thank you for breaking this all down for us. We live in Cuenca and have been using the Porta usb modem but it doesn't allow us to play feeds without it stopping and starting.

    Which option is based for watching videos and feeds without interruption?

    Thank you for your advice.

    Pat Grimm

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines November 18, 2010, 11:33 am

      Thanks Pat. Glad its been of use. For true high speed, I recommend TVCable. They are the best speed. ETAPA should also work fine. Some friends used to use them and were happy. I haven't used ETAPA myself. You won't have trouble watching streaming video with TVCable.
      Bryan

      Reply

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About Bryan & Dena Haines

We are a Canadian family of 3 living in Ecuador since 2009. If this is your first visit, start here. We blog about life and travel in Ecuador. Interested to work with us? Read more about Bryan & Dena

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