Tech entries have lately become my favourites. In order to write this one, I needed a few months of tests in order to check all the available solutions, come up with some conclusions and be able to recommend something to the ones wanting to have their own Internet connection on their trip to Argentina instead of only counting on WI-FI. Contrary to what I read before we left, connecting to the Internet isn’t as easy as they write and you will often need to be very patient.
After we landed in Argentina, we got free Internet pretty much everywhere at the airport. You had to click a few terms & conditions but it worked – the speed was nothing to boast about but good enough to download your mail – and that was pretty much it. The situation was similar at the rest of the airports we visited. What’s more, they even provided Internet connection on some ferry slips. You couldn’t download anything or put a blog entry up but theoretically, there was some connection.
I packed a Huawei modem for our trip – I was planning to buy a sim card and make a hot spot for all our devices. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Only one network – Claro – offered such service, but after 2 visits to their shops it turned out that they forgot to update their website and no consultant could sell me such a service. The only thing we could do, was buying a regular prepaid card and get 10 MB transfer a day for 2.5 peso. After exhausting it, the transfer was supposed to go down but it was such a low amount of data that I always got the feeling that it was working even better after I got the SMS informing me about using the whole daily limit and encouraging me to buy some additional data. I never did it but the system charged us 2.5 peso daily so I recharged it with 50 peso a few times and we didn’t have to worry. Surprisingly, inserting a SIM card with this ‘offer’ to the modem worked great.
Mobile operators that sell SIM cards are:
And it would have been all great if it wasn’t for the network in Argentina. It’s such a weird thing that I divided it into 2 different categories.
Types of network (theoretically):
Looks normal as for the technology used. However in practice it looked more like this:
- HSDPA and 3g don’t work at all,
- GPRS and EDGE work like 3g,
- HSDPA and 3g work as they should.
The latter category was the rarest while first two were present in most of the country. Watching what your mobile phone tells you about the current – theoretical – connection quality was pointless since I had no idea what determined the transfer speed at the specific time. Being within the network means you can send an SMS and call 911. Good connection can only be found in cities, between them, there’s usually no connection at all (if the distance is more than 50 km) and we often found ourselves out of reach.
If you don’t need your phone and would like to just check your e-mail from time to time, you can try the following:
- hotel/hostel wifi – apart from Buenos and other big cities it’s mobile network dependent. Usually they bring over the connection wirelessly and everybody uses the same source,
- wifi in cafes – rarely available outside Buenos Aires,
- Internet cafes – there’s plenty of them and they usually offer the best connection which does not necessarily make the Internet particularly fast.
So, if you want to have a decent Internet connection on your trip to Argentina, you need to try hard. At some point we gave up on it since it started to affect the pleasure of us being on the road. Slow connection or the lack of it resulted in Instagram photos being published or waiting to be published when the connection permits :)