Internet, WiFi & Cell Phones in Ecuador
Ecuador is a country where WiFi, Internet access, and cell service is fast, reliable, and affordable. Compared to the US, you can get more bandwidth for less money in Ecuador.
There are also a variety of mobile apps, streaming services and VPNs that are popular and useful in Ecuador.
Internet Access in Ecuador
We currently pay $46/month to NetLife for 150 Mb upload and download. NetLife offers faster plans for heavier users.
We’ve found that, unlike the US, most plans in Ecuador offer the same upload and download speeds. When we lived in Denver, we paid $120/month for 50 Mb download and 10 Mb upload that slowed to a crawl in the evening when everyone in the neighborhood was using it to watch Netflix.
The most popular ISPs in Ecuador are:
The mobile phone carriers, such as Claro and Movistar, also have reliable and affordable 4G coverage in all the major cities and along highways between cities. Amelia has used our Claro phone as a mobile hotspot to run Zoom calls when we were traveling without any issues.
Wifi Routers in Ecuador
We’re often asked about bringing a WiFi router to Ecuador. Thankfully, this is one piece of equipment you don’t need to bring because the internet service providers (ISPs) supply one for you at no additional cost.
Additionally, the router is usually configured to work specifically with the ISP so a different router may not work or may require custom setup and configuration.
When we lived in Cuenca, our ISP was PuntoNet. They provided a dual antenna WiFi router that easily covered our entire 3 bedroom house. We paid $56/month for 50Mb up and down until we moved in January 2020.
In Olón, our ISP was NetLife and they also provided a router plus a booster that we plugged into the wall of the back bedroom.
When we moved to Manta, we took our equipment with us and transferred the NetLife service to our new condo. We paid $45/month for 75Mb up and down until we left Manta in February 2022.
We still have the same equipment as of April 2023.
Mobile Phones in Ecuador
Cell phones in Ecuador work just like they do in other countries. However, while cell phone service plans are very affordable in Ecuador, the mobile phones themselves tend to be very expensive.
The most popular cell phone service providers in Ecuador are Claro, Movistar and Tuenti. Both Claro and Movistar offer plans starting around $20 per month, which includes voice, data, text messages and unlimited use of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Tuenti only offers prepaid plans.
Since most people in Ecuador use WhatsApp, you’ll rarely use voice or text messages.
As of April 2023, only 4G is available in Ecuador. 5G is not available and we haven’t heard any plans to release it here.
You’ll find that the selection of mobile phones is lower and the cost is substantially higher in Ecuador. You can expect to pay an additional 50% or more compared to the U.S. for the same devices.
Therefore, it may be much cheaper to bring your phone with you and swap out the sim card with your Ecuadorian service provider. Just make sure you buy a phone that’s unlocked so it will work with any carrier.
Popular Mobile Apps in Ecuador
By far the most popular mobile app in Ecuador is WhatsApp. It’s included free-of-charge with most mobile phone plans so the data used by the app isn’t included in the monthly data quota.
That means people use WhatsApp more than their cellular service for both voice and text messages. This is why we recommend installing WhatsApp on your phone before visiting or moving to Ecuador.
Facebook and Instagram are also very popular. Most businesses do not have their own website. Instead, they opt to use Facebook and/or Instagram as a pseudo business website.
Uber is available in Guayaquil and Quito, and UberEats is available in Cuenca, as well.
AzuTaxi is the most popular app for calling cabs in Cuenca. It works similar to Uber, only you don’t pay with a credit card; you pay with cash when you reach your destination.
Cabify is like a cross between Uber and AzuTaxi with the option to either pay by credit card or cash. For safety reasons, we recommend using a ride-request app whenever possible.
If you’re looking for that special someone, Tinder is a thing in Ecuador. In fact, we know several expats who have met their significant others on Tinder.
Virtual Private Networks in Ecuador
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows your computer to “look” like it’s connected to the internet in a different country. We use NordVPN and Surfshark, which has both a computer and mobile app. However, there are lots of different options to choose from.
If you’re searching products on Amazon with the intent to have them shipped to a friend or family member back home, you may not be able to purchase some of them if Amazon thinks you’re in Ecuador. Logging in through a VPN opens up the Amazon you want to see based on the location of the IP address you choose.
Streaming Services in Ecuador
You will be able to use most streaming services in Ecuador; however, some streaming services won’t work with a VPN, while others will ONLY work with a VPN. Additionally, some streaming services show different TV shows and movies if you use a VPN.
You can also get DirecTV with programming from the United States, and there are several cable service providers in Ecuador, including Claro TV and Cnt TV.
We watch Netflix although some of the programming is different from the United States so you may need to use a VPN to access your favorite shows.
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I grew up in the Chicagoland area and spent most of my career working as a sales rep in the commercial lighting industry. I still work online for a company in Denver doing sales CRM administration. YouTube is my part-time gig, but I'm so happy we can share our Unconventional Life and hopefully inspire you live yours!
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