Geoff McCabe

Internet Options at the Farm

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Internet ConnectionMany people ask me about internet at the farm, and there are so many options I thought I would write it out once in detail so that people can see what they are and I don’t have to explain it each time.

I’m updating this on Dec 14, 2015, so if you’re reading this many months after that date then the options will probably have improved.

CableTica Cable Internet

This would be the best option, but it’s not currently available in our area. It’s available in Montezuma but not up in the hills yet. The guys at CableTica have told us that if we can find 30 people who would open accounts, then they’ll invest in the hardware necessary to bring it to our area, but we don’t have that many neighbors who want it, and it’s too much to try to organize this. Their website claims up to 15Mb speeds for $60/month in the Cobano area, so this would be the perfect option if they bring the cables here.

Claro and MoviStar

In our area, we have two competing private cell-phone services, “MoviStar” and “Claro” which have national coverage. But unlike ICE, they don’t have unlimited download and you can end up using your entire month’s allotment in a single night downloading movies or watching Netflix, so they aren’t good options for internet. I don’t even know why they offer it with such a small maximum usage. Once you hit your max, it just stops working.

ICE Services

ICE is the name of Costa Rica’s national power/communications company. It’s pronounced like EE-say, not “ice”.

    ICE Datacard

    I have one of these at my house as a backup, and it runs at 4Mpbs when it’s working. It doesn’t work well at all from around 5pm to 8pm when everyone else in town is on the system trying to watch Netflix. But the rest of the time it works pretty well. I easily download even 1080p/Blue-ray movies or TV Series during the night to watch the next day or whenever it’s convenient. I have a small box that the datacard plugs into that broadcasts WIFI throughout the house for up to 3 devices. This is something like $40/month.


    Called ADSL service here, it’s available through your regular phone line in Montezuma and parts of Delicias close to the beach. We actually got it here at our house on the farm, and it worked, but very, very slow, something like 100K speed! It should be 40-80 times faster than that. The reason it doesn’t work is that the box that sends out the signal is down by the beach, and the farther away you are, the slower it works. The good news is that ICE says they’re going to add another box closer to us, so when that’s available, ADSL will be the best internet option at the farm.

    ICE I-Phone Hotspot

    This is a good option where you can get 4Mbps service on your phone and set up a “personal hotspot” for nearby devices. Many people in this area use their Iphone for this as their only internet service, and it’s cheap too because it’s unlimited use, so they just pay their regular monthly cell phone bill. This is on a shared network so if everyone in the area is using their phone at the same time, such as in peak hours then the internet is going to be a lot slower. The I-phones are on a separate network than the rest of the phones (Android/Samsung/Nokia/Etc), and works better and faster because fewer people have the Apple phones.

    ICE Optic Fiber

    Optic Fiber has been on the road for a couple years but they haven’t offered the service until a couple weeks ago. It’s VERY expensive, but has super-fast options both up and down, and is a dedicated line that’s always max speed 24/7. This is geared more towards business users and hotels. It’s the best and fastest option:

      8 Mbps – $343/mo
      10 Mbps – $395/mo
      14 Mbps – $495/mo
      16 Mbps – $550/mo
      20 Mbps – $653/mo

    At Anamaya they quoted us $1500 installation to get it 300 meters from the public road to our office. I’m not sure if that’s a standard installation fee or based on distance.

    ICE WiMax

    This is a little-known option that is used just in a few spots around the peninsula. We already have 3 of them at the farm, with a small white receiver on top of the roof of the houses, pointed towards a big antenna in Cobano. This works really well all day and night at 2MB and is fast enough for Skype or Netflix even at this relatively slow speed. It costs around $40/month. Ours is hooked up to a Wifi router to broadcast it throughout the house and to our pool area. Currently, as of Dec 2015, they aren’t giving any more WiMax accounts out, because all their bandwidth is accounted for. So we’re hoping they’ll expand their Wimax because it was our best option.

WiMax by American Data

Another service offered by a private company is similar to ICE’s WiMax, but they have faster speeds for a much higher price. They have already tested our location at Rancho Delicioso and say it works here. But, you must have a direct line of site to their antenna. Some of the lower lots on the farm might be difficult to do without adding a small tower on top of your house to go up perhaps 20 ft higher to get the connection.

    American Data – [email protected]
    4Mbps – $200+tax
    6Mbps – $275+tax
    8Mbps – $350+tax
    $500 Installation

To sum up, because I use the internet often all day, every day, and we watch Netflix, download movies, etc, and I play video games sometimes with my daughter who lives in Florida, I have three different options, that work best in this order:

    ICE WiMax (currently unavailable)
    ICE Datacard
    Cell Phone Hotspot

The third one I almost never use. In the rare cases that both the first two aren’t working, I usually go and do something else away from the computer. Keep in mind that I am a HEAVY user of internet. Besides downloading movies almost every day, I maintain more than 25 websites and communicate with friends, family, and employees all around the world, so the internet options here at the farm should be good enough for almost anyone even without the high end services I listed above like Optic Fiber or American Data’s WiMax. The only reason you would really need those is if you want to do frequent high quality video chat or play online video games that require super fast speeds.