Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Future of Wireless Internet in Costa Rica

Clients always want to know about my internet connection in Costa Rica

Until recently, using the internet was a challenge I have had pretty much every day for the past 8 years.

It wasn't till this last month when my service provider Japi delivered a flat-line signal to my off-the-grid office for the last 30 days that I had to start the search again on backup solutions.

I did an exhaustive search talking to every company providing WiWax to Microwave (Point-to-Point) services about what could be done to get service here, including the possibilities of installing towers.

The ultimate solution was to rent an office in town for about $200 per month including internet expenses and to fix the problem up here at the off-the-grid office permanently.

Here is what I found and would recommend.


Wait till 2016!

Yesterday I spoke with Alberto Araya regarding cell signal boosters and he told me that in 2016 affordable internet in off-the-grid locations problem will be possible. I confirmed what he told me. There are two scheduled satellite launches for late 2015 (Eutelsat 117W B) and mid 2016 (Via-Sat 2) that will bring the same technology used in "in-flight" internet service to the Central America region of the world. It will probably come in a package in this form: Tooway or may be sold by other national carriers. This isn't any ordinary satellite internet. We're talking 5Mb uplink! 22Mb downlink.

In the mean time you might need to test/try different carriers and boosting their signals. Under the "about your phone" menu on your phone there's a menu that shows signal strength (-60dbm to -110dbm). A strong and steady signal keeps your connection strong is on the -60dbm side. As the number increases and gets around -100dbm your signal degrades and calls are dropped. There's also an app called Antenna Point that should point you in the direction of the tower you are connected to.

My past weekend was spent walking around my place and taking measurements at places I noticed signal. I found I could get 3G internet at most places from Kolbi and Movistar. The hill up there getting a steady -77dbm to -83dbm. The house getting about a -90dbm. The Antenna Pointer program helped a lot too because it showed me I was actually on a different tower and that different carriers needed slightly different angles.

I will be having Alberto boost my signal. He's in Ciudad Colon and will sell the equipment or install.

It could give a nice improvement to the signals that arrives here so there is better backup in the home office in case Japi is down.

Like a pilgrim, waiting for latest ship from GB I wait eagerly for news of the satellite launches!


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