Whilst working remotely this year I’ve had a real chance to test out different internet options in Central America and South America. From Peru to El Salvador, it’s been a real challenge to stay connected, launch apps, download big files and have Skype calls.
Fortunately, I’ve learnt a heck of a lot and wanted to put together a quick post to share my learnings with others.
This really came to mind today when I had a three way conference call with my business partner and Facebook.
So here are your internet options in South America and my experience:
- Internet cafe – really mixed results (have had rock solid connection speeds in the Galapagos islands and then 0.10 kbps in Peru). Often not the most conducive environment for work with tiny little booths and lots of chatter in the background. Many internet cafes won’t have wifi, only ethernet and their unsecure computers.
- Hostel – can be really good. You chill on sofas, play a little pool and meet people. A little like working at Google I imagine! However, these days everyone owns an iPhone so connection speeds can be slow. In larger hostels the internet won’t work outside of very odd hours when everyone is sleeping.
- Hotel – mixture. Hilton we stayed in Colombia was fantastic. Mexico hotel we stayed in – it didn’t work for 5 days. Can’t really comment as mainly stay in hostels.
- Restaurant – if you can find a quiet cafe or restaurant you can get a pretty solid internet speed. If its busy with many people on the connection, forget it!
- 3G internet dongle – this has been a life saver! It really varies per country, but with the network Claro for around 40 dollars you can get a connection plus 2 gigs of data. To give you an idea of what 2 gigs equates to, a typical 30 minute skype call is around 50mb. In major cities I’ve had connection speeds of 3mbps. I’ve been able to watch YouTube videos in HD without streaming issues. 2 gigs will get you surprisingly far. It’s also easy to top up. You’ll always find “Recargar” signs in little shops and they can top up your connection. In Peru for 10 soles (3.50 USD) I get an extra 200 mb.
- AirBnb or private accommodation – this is the best option as you are not sharing a broadband connection with anyone else. When I really need a work cramming session, I’ll seek out accommodation on AirBnb and work to my hearts content.
Hopefully this helps some fellow digital nomads when travelling in South America. I’d thoroughly recommend the 3G dongles on offer from companies such as Claro and Movistar. Connection speeds have been incredible and perfect for Skype calls.