10 Years of Blog Archive

Monday, February 01, 2016

About (our) Internet Service in Cuenca Ecuador UPDATED 2016

Update January 2016 - ok so here we are giving our readers an update about (ETAPA) Internet four plus years later! This article was first published on 9/16/2011 and we have to say that back then the Internet stunk. It was not reliable at all. Well there have been some changes...keep reading to find out what's happening with ETAPA Internet Service.

Note: all new updates will be in red text.   

New Update December 2011 - Our Internet still periodically cuts out several times a day for about 5 minutes at a time. We do not have the other issue of it cutting off at 6pm and never returning, but last night it did cut off and we had no Internet for the rest of the evening. I've heard conflicting reports about the other 3 Internet service companies in Cuenca, so unfortunately, we're not able to recommend an Internet company at this time. 

Update 2016 - We have heard good things about 'TV Cable' but we do not have any personal experience with them. We were going to try them when we were having so many connectivity issues but our Internet with ETAPA suddenly got better and we still use ETAPA today.
View of Cuenca from Turi
When we first arrived in Cuenca we were told by gringos that have lived here for two years that Etapa Internet was good Internet, so we jumped on the band wagon and went with Etapa. We’re new here and we didn’t even know the names of any Internet service providers when we first got here.  

We pay $72 a month for Internet that never stays connected for three hours at a time. It cuts off and then comes back on; it cuts out and then comes back on, and this goes on for the rest of the day. Lately, it has completely cut off at around 6:15 pm every single day. This means if you use Etapa there is no Internet after 6:15 pm.  Perhaps it is only bad wiring but perhaps it is just a bad Internet provider? Perhaps it is just in our area. We do not live downtown.

Update 2016 - want to hear something funny. Back in late part of 2011 were having such bad internet that we decided to downgrade our service with ETAPA to the next lowest speed since that was the speed we were getting anyway, and the Internet got faster! ONLY in Ecuador, yeah?

We cannot stream videos and when the Internet cuts out we get cut off from the people we are talking with on the phone. If you have seen our video “12 annoying things about Cuenca Ecuador” one of our annoyances is our Internet. Right now as I write this blog post the Internet is not working and my email is not coming in. The last four evenings in a row the Internet has completely cut off at 6:15 pm or there about and we have no Internet connection whatsoever. 

Update 2016 - the Internet rarely if ever goes out all evening anymore...that stopped years ago, however once in awhile it does cut out for about a minute or so but it always comes right back and usually stays connected for the rest of the day.

We can stream videos, Netflix and YouTube most of the time. If the connection seems to be a bit slow we just lower the quality on the video using the cog wheel on the right bottom and it begins to stream again...we don't like doing this but sometimes you have to. 

Since this time, we have asked local Cuecanos what is the best Internet here in Cuenca and most people say TV Cable is the best Internet in Cuenca.

We really like Cuenca but we really do not like the Internet that we are now using. We are going to try this new Internet service called TV Cable and we’ll let you know how that works. It can get pretty frustrating when you are trying to upload a video and the internet cuts out, or if you are on the phone talking long distance with family and the Internet cuts out. We completely stopped even trying to stream Hulu movies. 

Update 2016 - Again, ETAPA is 90% better with connectivity as well as service. they come out now within 24 hours on Monday through Friday and they even have a representative call back after the techs were out to make sure the problem was resolved. Pretty good service. 

Today we took a complaint letter, written in Spanish to Etapa.  We want to let them know before we change Internet service providers why we are leaving their services and going with another provider. Etapa very much needs to know that their Internet service is terrible.  We went to the main Etapa building downtown Cuenca and they read our complaint and then sent us to a different address and building where they deal with these types of complaints from customers. So we still need to go talk to the director of Etapa, hand him our letter, and nicely let him know why we are switching Internet providers. We’ll of course keep you all posted on what happens next with this. If you would like to read the letter to the Director of Etapa here it is below.

15 Septiembre, 2011-09-15

Estimado Etapa Direttor:

     Yo estoy pagando por la máxima velocidad de internet que usted tiene para la venta. Estoy pagando $ 72 dólares al mes.
     Creo que usted debe saber que el internet no vale la pena el precio. Cada día que no funciona correctamente.     Cada día el Internet deja de funcionar varias veces al día.Ahora deja de funcionar todas las noches después de las 6pm y no vuelve a funcionar durante toda la noche.     ¿Por qué pagamos 72 dólares al mes por algo que no funciona entre un tercio y la mitad del tiempo?
     Vamos a
buscar una compañía diferente. Cuando nos encontramos con uno que funcione como debe ser, vamos a comprar ese servicio.
     Pensé que usted debe saber por qué está perdiendo clientes. Por ahora vamos a mantener su servicio.Muchas gracias por escuchar, y tener un buen día.

Franco and family

In Ingles:

Dear Etapa Director:

     I am paying for the highest speed of internet that you have for sale. I am paying $72 dollars a month.

I think you should know that the internet is not worth the price. Every day It does not work properly.

Every day the internet stops working several times a day. Now it stops working every night after 6pm and does not work again for the entire evening.
     Why do we pay $72 a month for something that does not work one third to one half of the time?

We will be looking for a different company. When we find one that works as it should, we will buy that service .

     I thought you should know why you are losing customers. For now we will keep your service.

Thank you very much for listening, and have a nice day.

Frank and Family
There is light at the end of the tunnel, however. There are four different Internet service providers in Cuenca. No worries. We will be signing up with TV Cable soon. And we will continue to let our readers know what our annoyances are because through us you can become more enlightened to services here and be more prepared when you come here.   

We will continue to update you with our experiences and what we have observed here in Cuenca Ecuador—we’re not going anywhere—it’s great here—Cuenca is a beautiful country with beautiful people! 

Update January 2016 - Here are the four Internet Service providers in Cuenca Ecuador.

ETAPA - http://www.etapa.net.ec/
TV CABLE - https://www.grupotvcable.com/
PUNTONET - http://www.puntonet.ec/ 
CNT - https://www.cnt.gob.ec/internet/

Until we write again.
If you liked this article, you might like these ones too.
We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!


  1. Thanks for this update Frank... internet service is a big concern to me and after seeing your 12 Annoyances video last night I was concerned.

    I may not be moving to Cuenca... not sure yet exactly where I'll land or when... (I would need to sell my house)... but it sure seems Cuenca has a lot of pros to it... other than perhaps the weather which Angie and I have been talking about. I need to see more sunshine in Cuenca (and even Manta photos!)... I am wondering if perhaps due to the location of Ecuador on the S American coast, it attracts more clouds/fog than say Panama...

    As I told Angie, thanks a million for your MOST EXCELLENT blog... it is by far the most informative I've been able to find... I think perhaps because you guys are not retirees and are more knowledgable about the things I am interested in... I wouldn't be retiring... I would be living!

    Best to you all... also love the furniture the guys are building... what a great service and the pieces look really nice.


  2. Hi Carol,
    Yesterday morning when we woke up it was a beautiful sunny day with only a few clouds. Within a few hours many clouds rolled in and it started to pour. Cuenca is the only place that I know of where you can experience all four seasons in one day! Seriously. It can be chilly in the mornings but by early afternoon off goes the jacket.

    What we have experienced since living here, going on 11 weeks is, there are more cloudy days than there are sunshiny days...but understand we are just coming out of winter here so that might play a factor in the cloudiness. And too, the coastal areas may have more sunshine as well.

    I'm getting used to the weather. When I leave the house I make sure to bring a jacket with a hood just in case it starts raining and I always wear a t-shirt under my sweaters or blouses just in case the sun comes out because when the sun comes out it warms up fast.

    Take care,

  3. Great information guys! I'm wondering though if Etapa can check your wiring as part of their service? Here in the states, I can call AT&T if I start having consistent disconnects. After they do some testing from their office, they can usually tell if there is a wiring/hardware problem and will send a technician to troubleshoot the wiring. At times, I've had to get a bit forceful with them because they like to make me go through the modem and computer settings. But once they realize they are not talking to a dummy, they usually come through and do a physical check.

    What I have found with my connection was that over time, the wiring gets pulled by earth movements or what have you and it really shows up after it rains hard. The last time they came out, AT&T ended up running new wire from the road to the junction box outside of the house. They did come in the house and checked to make sure I had good throughput at the modem connection. Note that if the wiring was bad in the actual house, then they would have charged a $70 per hour fee to repair it.

    So my question is, how involved does Etapa get with the actual wiring and will they do physical checks?

  4. Hi Angie...

    Yeah, re the weather, I've been checking out the coastal areas a bit.. and here's some info I found on a great website (geared toward buying property on the coast but with lots of other good general info... they mention TVCable as a good internet option, fyi)...

    rather than looking for the exact quote I will paraphrase...

    He basically says that during May through November... the coast is often overcast, but that beginning in December through April, the clouds move out and it is crystal clear day after day after day.

    And of course, May through November is winter so I guess that makes sense... it's just that honestly I don't think I can handle weeks on end of no sunshine... in fact I know I can't cus I've been there and done that in Idaho in years past and had SAD... no fun... of course it was often below zero with feet of snow on the ground, so perhaps the lack of cold and snow would make a difference!

    Anyway... I somehow really need to get a handle on this cus I would hate to sell everything, move down there and find out it was cloudy all the time for half of the year... so many of the photos are cloudy. I think I'll email Dom (info below) and see what his take is on it... and also talk to some folks who've been there for a while to get their take.

    You might enjoy this guy's website/info... he has a Q&A forum that's informative too (altho there a lot of complete newbs posting questions w/o doing any research)... Domenick Buonamici www.ecuadorrealestate.org ... I bought his pdf guide for buying property along the beach and it is very informative... lots of general info about Ecuador, best airfares, etc etc... only $20... pretty good deal... current from Jan 2011..

    As always... thanks for all the info you all are providing!


  5. Hello Frank I've been reading your post for few month now, I have to say that we have moved to cuenca about a month ago, and after waiting a week and numerous vist and call for etapa to install the internet, our service is pretty good we only loose it maybe every 3 days for 10 minutes but every other time is working great, wireless speed is about 54mbps and wired is 100 mbps
    and we are payng about 25.00 a month



  6. Hey guys,

    My wife Shirley and I live pretty close to the address you described and we also use Etapa. We've only been here a short time, one month and so far (knock on wood) our internet service has been fairly good. Not perfect but good. We paid for the 3.8MB service and for the first 3 weeks we were getting closer to 16mb. Now we're getting close to what we are paying for. It varies. I'm sorry to hear that your service sucks so bad. I just wanted to let you know that there is good service out there.

    I'll be curious to hear how well you like cable when you get it. Can you get just cable without the TV part?


    sfrieler@gmail.com Isabela y Fernandina

  7. Hi guys...update on Internet. Yesterday (Monday) we went to Etapa with our complaint letter and they said someone from Etapa was going to call us at 5pm that after noon and then come out and look/repair the wires.

    Well, remember we said you have to be patient.
    No one called, and no one came out. So, Frank called them this morning and gently reminded them again about our Internet issues and we still have not heard from them...

    We still have the same issues of Internet cutting out on and off throughout the day, and we still have the same issue of the Internet cutting completely off at around 6pm. After 6ishpm we have no Internet access whatsoever. It is strange but true.

    We realize there are other people who live here in Cuenca and use Etapa and don't seem to have a problem and that's great! And this is not a complaint...we're not going to leave Cuenca because of this, we just want to keep you updated since so many people are commenting on this blog post.

    We'll probably give Etapa a few more days to come out and check wiring and if they don't show up, CABLE TV here we come!

    Take care!

  8. I am very glad I discovered your blog, if for no other reason, to vent about the internet here in Cuenca. I just sent the following message to a friend in Salinas. Don't think for a second that TV Cable is a panacea. It is absolutely awful.
    Hey Hector, do you know if CNT is available in Cuenca? I have tried TV Cable twice (currently have them) and ETAPA and they are/were both so terrible it is pathetic. Latest example with TV Cable is I've had spotty connectivity (can loose connection as many as 10 times an hour) since Thursday. They said they would send a tech out because they could see problem was with their service, and couldn't fix it from server end. Appointment was for today between 8-12 AM. They never showed up. This is the second time this very same thing has occurred (the no show for an appointment) and I'm sick of it. I'll try anything

    Any ideas?

  9. Hi Cathy,

    Wow, well pretty much the same thing is/was happening to us with ETAPA, however, the spotty connectivity seems to be improving a little bit since we have had them out here and we complained to the head office with the letter above.

    We were also having the same spotty Internet as you say, PLUS for 3 weeks the Internet would go completely out around 6pm and we had NO Internet for the rest of the night!

    Yes, when we first called ETAPA out they never showed up either...it's a part of the manana lifestyle here...That's not going to change

    But...they did fix our connection from cutting off after 6pm. Once in awhile we still get cut off during the day for about 3 to 5 minutes then it will come back on and it may happen two or three times a day...before they came out it would happen like you say 10 or more times a day.

    As a backup we were going to try CABLE TV because more people here say they are the best, but, I don't know now...apparently there are four Internet providers just in Cuenca. Is CTN one of them?

    Keep calling CABLE TV to come out and check it, and don't get discouraged...you may have to write them a letter and take it down there, hand it to the head person in charge...let them know you will change providers unless they take care of this problem.

    Please keep us updated on what happens. We have a lot of people following this blog who may be moving here and they want to know all about the Internet service here in Cuenca.

    Take care

  10. Hi Angie,

    For an update, I can tell you that TV Cable originally scheduled to come out on Monday, between 8AM and noon and they never showed up, never called and I stayed here all day waiting. My property manager called them repeatedly on Tuesday and it was the same story. Today, the property manager said he called them no less than six times and they kept saying they would come, but they never did. Tomorrow, he says he will go down to TV Cable in person and wait until a service person can come to my apartment with him. He did go down to speak with the managers on Tuesday, but apparently they leave at noon and don't come back for the rest of the day, so he didn't get to speak to anybody. Additionally, for the three consecutive days that I was out of service completely, they have refused to give me a refund or service credit.

    Personally, I think this business of gringos accepting the local culture as a cute "quirk" is nonsense. When you don't do something you say you will do, when you said you will do it, it is no more, no less than a lack of integrity. If I ran my business in the U.S. the way businesses are routinely run here, I wouldn't have lasted a month. To me it is sad, but people here don't seem to take any pride in their work and their word means nothing. Until that changes, Ecuador will always remain third world.

  11. Update: TV Cable came to day at 11 AM. They claim the problem was in the main switch box in this building. The system seems to be working well, but you can't evaluate an intermittent problem by what is happening right now, you have to see how it works (if it works) over time.

    Whether it works consistently is a different issue than the awful customer service I have received to date. What excuse is there for finally solving a problem a week after it was reported and not keeping an appointment with not so much as a phone call? Even in this third world country (that yes, we still love, overall)this should not be deemed acceptable.

  12. Americans are spoiled by the excellent customer service we get, but the competition is why. If you have the only mousetrap in town, you can charge anything you want and deliver it when you get around to it..

    The rest is cultural and it's not just in Ecuador but every Spanish or Portugese speaking country. Everything will happen manana. Some years ago my wife was taking ballroom dancing lessons from a Puerto Rican. He was always 15-30 minutes late and thought nothing of it. We have a friend who lives in Alicante Spain and a couple years ago we were visiting and went out for lunch. We were in central business district at a sidewalk cafe and about noon all the stores closed except the cafes and everyone went home or out to eat. It was the same in Costa Rica, Panama and Guatamala. Everything will happen tomorrow or the next day. Manana is in the culture and If you cannot accomodate this lifestyle don't move to any country that speaks Spanish or Portugese.

    Some years ago, in my yachting days, I kept a sailboat in the Chesapeake and the owner of the boat in the next slip named his boat; "Roundtuit" He was retired and his philosophy was "Every day is Saturday" So if you are retired like me, relax and enjoy it. You are not going to change the culture, all you will go is give yourself ulcers.

  13. Hi All.
    Well organization and efficiency may not be at the top of the list here, it's true. Especially as to how businesses are run. Now, when we say, oh well, manana, we are not accepting the concept on a deeper personal or spiritual level, we're just saying, we can't change the culture, let it go and don't let it spoil the rest of your day. We are always courteous and respectful regardless of circumstances wherever we go, we believe you get back what you put out, good or bad, so there's no reason to stay upset. Live and let live.

  14. OOps, forgot to mention, the internet went out twice while posting the above.


  15. Hi, I like your blog quite a bit and would really, really like to know how the cable company does for you. I have thoughts of living in Cuenca but work online. So, this is a monster issue for me.
    Here is a thread I started on a forum that a long time resident (the moderator) tells you all about the right cable company to go with etc...

    I hope that helps and please update this thread as its a huge deal for me.

    Thank you very much, Patrick

  16. Can you guys find out about Telconet? I hear it's 100% dedicated and also has fiber optics for $200 a month and I am willing to pay for it since my income depends on it--no internet means no moving to Cuenca. I also found this internet provider brochure for Cuenca. Please let me know.



    The service is much improved over what it was. It still goes out a couple of times a day for a minute or two but we don't notice it as much. Over the last few months it seems to be working "better", however, for those that need streaming internet for business it still would be a disappointment because it does also have slow periods during peak times. (this affects streaming such as voip or video)We've only had one major problem since posting the original ones. The internet was again acting the same way as originally reported. We were calling ETAPA several times a day and they only answered the phone once out of say ten calls. How do you like that? A business that doesn't answer the phone. When they answered, they would put us off or disconnect us, huh? A guy came out after a few days, looked at it and didn't do anything. Well long story short we decided to personally show up at their offices and talk to the head engineer. The sent the guy out immediately and replaced the modem. All of this took two weeks to transpire, during which we had internet for only half a day out of each day. The service is back to "normal" now.

    1. Frank and Angie;

      I've enjoyed your videos, and still quander upon retirement in Equator.

    2. Better than reality TV here in the States.
      I love your videos and am experiencing life elsewhere from a new perspective that really affects my life decisions with regard to moving.

  18. I have used ETAPA they have good services and then spectrum charter internet they are also providing good internet services.


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