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But only 15% of Ecuadorians have a land line (in Spanish: telefonia fija or telefono convencional).
It seems that the biggest problem with cell service isn’t the providers but the poor quality phones. Claro is Ecuador’s largest and most popular cell network with nearly 12 million subscribers (Q3 2013). When we moved to Ecuador, Claro was known as Porta (legally known as Conecel, which is owned by America Movil). Claro in Ecuador is part of Claro Americas – which is owned by America Movil, based in Mexico City, Mexico.
Claro Americas has service in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico and Uruguay. While Claro staff is efficient and friendly, many customer service reps for Movistar seem to lack drive and product knowledge. CNT is the commonly used acronym for Ecuador’s National Telecommunications Corporation (La Corporacion Nacional de Telecomunicaciones CNT EP). While CNT is a good option for internet in many parts of the country, their mobile phone services looks more like a last resort. Bryan is a partner at Storyteller Media, a content marketing company for Canadian travel brands. Or is their a cell phone on the market that allows for the downloading of Google’s audio translator? Bryan, I was originally bringing a Galaxy SII until I learned that it was not unlocked, so I upgraded to a Nexus5 which is unlocked.
I have read your cautions about bringing more than one cell phone, per person, into Ecuador.
Yes, the rule that is being enforced now is one used phone per person and one new phone per family.
I have been thinking about this because of my need to remain connected to the office (using my US number which is easier for our staff). My husband and I recently returned from 2.5 months in Ecuador and we picked up a phone from Claro shortly after our arrival, and kind of hoping that we made the right choice between Claro and Movistar.
The usb modems are okay for one device but they aren’t the same as a cabled connection. When I first arrived in Ecuador Movistar in Guayaquil would not give me service because I did not have a cedula. Another thing to mention, aside from the added cost of calling a friend with a different carrier than your own, is the the added cost of calling a cell phone number from a landline (for the few that still have one) and vice versa.
When I first moved back to Ecuador from Canada, I made the mistake of calling up all my old friends on their cellphones from my newly installed landline from ETAPA (call me old-fashioned, but I still like the idea of having one in case of a blackout), thinking there would be no added expense until I got hit with a $100 phone bill after calling 5 people. On the flip side, one feature about Ecuador’s wireless industry that I do like is the fact that even if you run out of minutes (saldo), you can still receive calls from other people on your cellphone. I’ve spoken to people in Cuenco who have also had this experience but have not yet got a satisfactory explanation.


Yes, I’m absolutely certain the sudden disappearance of funds from my SIM was not due to overusing the cell as I made only 2 or 3 short phone calls a month. What I learned through much research on line was I needed to bring an unlocked GSM system phone that accepts SIM chip.
I am coming to Ecuador in June, I plan on buying a Claro phone and bringing a phone andsim card from the states, it will be a new phone never used, When I get to Salinas, and go to Claro will there be any issues.
I don’t know if the service crosses over between countries but I imagine that they would. My husband and I have both been on Claro for about 10 yrs (we still sometimes forget and say Porta).
Another suggestion, if you make a lot of calls to others not on your plan, is a phone with dual SIM cards, then you can easily use both Claro and Movi, thus being just a few clicks away from almost anyone in the whole country. In the Development and Manufacturing Electronic Ecuadorian plant (DMEE), located in the Industrial sector Carcelen, the Yezz brand assembles this equipment.
At the time, it seemed to be an even tie in popularity between Movistar and Claro (back then Claro was known as Porta). You can buy saldo at the carriers offices, online through your Ecuadorian bank account or at just about any tienda (small corner store) in the country.
According to the current rules, you are allowed to bring one used cell phone with you on each entry.
It is the largest company in Mexico by revenue with over $47 billion (larger than the next five largest companies combined). Although it is the top carrier in Spain with 41%+ market share, in Ecuador it has just under 25% of market share with 4 million users. Although their service offerings and prices are almost identical, Movistar legs behind in coverage and customer service.
Created in January 2010 it is responsible for conventional landline telephones, high speed internet, satellite television and national cell phone network. While CNT has offices in Cuenca, you cannot purchase an internet or phone line from them if you live in the city. I’m not sure why anyone would choose their cell service with two much stronger options available. Just like everywhere else, it is cheaper to speak with other users on the same network – so all three of us are now on the Claro network. This article was so helpful because communications will be our biggest need, so to know there is a company here that also functions there is so encouraging.
I understand that I will be able to purchase a SIM card at the airport on arrival, but I wanted to check that the available SIM card is the mini type.
Unless the rules have recently changed, you don’t have to be a resident to open an account. Your usage is gauged by volume of data downloaded so streaming video (Netflix or Skype) isn’t very practical. A few years ago the saldo would expire after 30 days but the president changed the law and now it will last indefinitely.


When I bought a Nokia N8 a few years ago, I took the sim card out of my simple $40 phone and put it into the new smart phone and it just worked.
Currently, the factory has the capacity to assemble 35,000 units per month, but your its goal is to reach 70,000 devices. Sometimes as you drive up a mountain, the signal will disappear and then return with higher altitude.
For the first few years I thought that the cell service was not very good – until I traded my $40 junk phone in for one that had decent audio and reception. That means we’ll have to start again with a new chip each visit and advise our contacts of our new cell phone number. I currently have an iPhone 4 and am perfectly happy with it; it would be nice to bring that along.
If you have more, they can confiscate your extra phones, charge you duties or even charge you with providing false information (if not declared). It would probably be a good idea to read a variety of consumer reports as to quality of product from other customer reviews. Of course there are a few dead spots in low lying areas or on some bends of the road, and if you are in the rurals you might be without cell service for the duration, but that’s what you expect in the jungle. Some expats put $20 or $30 on their phone so it won’t run out and be unable to make an outgoing call. Now it’s clear that the weakest part of the system is the cheap phones that most people use. And because they are separate networks we lost whatever saldo (prepayment) on the Movistar sim card.
I am coming on a six month Visa and have all my documents to apply for my Pensionado Visa. We are also at the end of our current 2 yr contract with Sprint and are trying to figure out whether to buy a newer phone privately (ebay or Craigslist) or stick with our current phones paying month by month for the last 12 months in the US.
Because of the limits put on cell phones here, I don’t think that many phones are being export from Ecuador. I am thinking about getting one for a friend who could really use it next time I go and come back from the States. Because of high import duties on technology, the country is a few steps behind what many foreigners are used to – in terms of clear (decipherable) phone conversations.
One other individual at the Sprint store did tell us that all new Smartphones work overseas so long as they are “unlocked,” Is that your understanding?



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