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Peru Wifi & Phone Report: Great on the Gringo Trail

Written by Jessica on October 19, 2012

wifi-peruThis article is part of our Internet and Phone Report series.

General availability: High
Quality of bandwidth: Medium
Frequency of internet in campgrounds: Medium-High
Frequency of internet in hotels: High

Areas Visited

We spent six weeks in Peru. We visited the beaches in the north, the Cordillera Blanca around Huaraz, Lima, Nazca, and Cusco and the Sacred Valley. We did not visit the ruins on the northeast side of the country, the Amazon or Arequipa. 

Overall Availability

Internet availability is pretty amazing. We camped almost everywhere, and with few exceptions always had access to free wifi. Every town regardless of the size will have an internet café.

Lodges that are off the gringo trail (especially in the Cordillera Blanca) may not have internet. Same with off the beaten track national parks. If there are few facilities (i.e. no showers) don’t expect internet or electricity.

Hotels and hostels all have internet. Peru is enough of a tourist destination that unless you are in the middle of nowhere, free wifi is a given.

Bandwidth & Connectivity

peru mistura 2012 had wifi

Connectivity in Peru was substantially better than Ecuador and Colombia. Rarely did we have issues with power outages, random signals disappearing or inability to connect.

Bandwidth was generally better as well. Although we did stay at a few places where the speed was dreadfully slow, these seemed to be few and far between. All the hotels we stayed at and the majority of campgrounds had super-fast, good-enough-for-skype speeds that lasted the entire duration of our stay.

USB Modems

Thankfully the cost of pre-paid USB modems has returned to an acceptable level (unlike Ecuador and Colombia). We opted to buy a pre-paid Claro modem in Peru because we intended to stay more than a month and didn’t want a repeat of our experience in Ecuador where we wasted several hours trying to get our unlocked modem to work.

Prepaid Claro modems cost S/119 (USD$45.) and come with 200mb of free time valid for 15 days. There is a deal that if you add a small amount of money to your account you can recharge for another 2 weeks and receive another 100mb for free. Neither Movistar nor Nextel offered prepaid modems.

When our 15 days of free time ran out we recharged for another month (3gb of data) for an additional S/119. Here are the current rates and instructions for recharging.

peru jess working next to the pool with wifi

Bandwidth and Connectivity with Modems

We generally had good experience with our Claro modem. Medium to large towns all had 3G coverage and speeds were excellent. I even used our modem to make a Skype call in Cusco. The further you get from cities, the less likely you’ll have 3G. EDGE connections are crappy and very unreliable. They may work for checking email, but attempting to do more than that will prove futile. If you are stuck with an EDGE connection it’s probably better just to find an internet café to get work done.

Using an Unlocked Modem

Just before we left Peru I swapped the SIM card from our prepaid Claro modem into our Zoom unlocked modem. I setup a connection profile using the settings from my pre-paid modem (see below) and I was able to successfully connect to the internet. This leads me to believe that you could just buy a S/15 SIM card and put it in an unlocked modem and save yourself some cash. However, another overlander friend of ours attempted this with a different modem and failed to connect. I’m not sure if the problem was their modem or if the SIM cards for modems are somehow specifically activated for this use (as is the case in Bolivia).

Connection profile and APN for Claro Peru:
User name: amx
Password: amx
Dial number: *99#
APN: ba.amx

Phone Costs

SIM cards for phones cost S/15 through Claro. Calling the US was more than S/2.5 per minute. There was a promotion when we first entered the country that by dialing a special prefix the rate was dropped to S/.50 per minute (USD$0.20) Making things a bit more affordable. Unfortunately this promo ended unexpectedly and resulted in one very expensive conference call for me. Ask for promotions or paquetes when you buy a SIM card. Current long distance rates can be found here.

The Bottom Line

Internet connections are great on the beaten path. Prepaid modems are worth the cost if you need to be doing work on a schedule.

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