In our technologically advanced world it’s all about on-line communication and being connected, so one of the first things you will want to do in Peru is get a chip and a local number. Firstly, if you have a phone from home that isn’t locked to a network, bring it with you. Like most electrical items, cell phones are relatively expensive here and you won’t find the same variety of brands and models.
Before you get too excited getting back on line, a sad truth must be told, that Peru is infamous for having one of the slowest internet speeds in the world. It is also incredibly unreliable and the connection will often be cut off without warning, especially in provincial areas.
Although the market is starting to become more competitive, there are basically two main telecommunications companies to choose from, Movistar and Claro. Movistar seems to be more popular in the provinces whereas Claro is the most common provider in Lima. Both offer similar services; free calls to other RPM (Movistar) or RPC (Claro) numbers. Claro will automatically detect another Claro number, however for Movistar RPM numbers you will need to mark an asterix at the beginning of the number. You can choose a pre-paid or a contract, if you don’t need a new phone then pre-paid is probably the best option as contracts include the monthly handset payment and you will need to commit for a minimum of eighteen months.
Both the major providers, Claro and Movistar, will claim to have better coverage although the truth is that there is very little difference. Claro seems to have a slight advantage with the quality of their coverage, particularly their internet network and service and attention in their centres is often quicker and more professional.
The new players are companies such as Entel and Bitel. Both offer very competitive phone and internet packages when compared to Claro and Movistar, however their coverage has not yet been established to the same degree and the training of their staff in their centres leaves a lot to be desired. Bitel in the provinces, fingers crossed it’s better in Lima, has a huge number of staff members who appear to be poorly trained and lacking in knowledge and expertise. Which means that purchasing something as simple as a recharge can take up more than hour of your time. What Claro and Movistar still have as an advantage over these new companies is the amount of places where you can buy a recharge or pay your bill. Bitel has very few outlets and you often have to travel to their actual customer centre instead of being able to buy a recharge from your local tienda.
So at the end of the day it’s a good idea to shop around and compare companies and their advantages and disadvantages before making a commitment.
About the author: Ellie Ryan is an Aussie expat working and living in Peru. She is the Founder of TEFL Zorritos, a TEFL training institute which trains people to become English language teachers and places them in positions in Peru and abroad. This article was originally published on the Living in Peru website.