How Satellite Internet is a Game Changer for Remote Workers in Costa Rica (Yes, Fast Internet in Costa Rica is Now a Thing!)

Sep 23, 2020

Fast internet and Costa Rica used to be like chalk and cheese. But the arrival of satellite internet in Costa Rica is game changing for remote communities and remote workers alike. 

The boss says, “Get those documents out to the client within the next hour, please. It’s super important!”.

So I work like the Tasmanian Devil on steroids, making sure everything is correct, reviewing it several times, and now I’m sure it’s ready to send and I’ve got five minutes to spare. I type in the client’s email address, hit send, and… aaaand… nothing happens.

What? I see the spinning cursor indicating that my computer is working furiously to send the file. It’s spinning. And spinning. And spinning. Dammit. I go to the kitchen to get a glass of juice and when I return, it’s still spinning.

Then the boss calls again. He’s saying the client hasn’t received the documents and he needed them five minutes ago. What’s happened?

Ever been in this situation?

Chances are that if you work from home in Costa Rica, you have. Especially if you live somewhere a little remote.

It’s great I can work from home, but here in the sticks I don’t have the most reliable internet. And by not having reliable internet, situations like this can happen.

I could have driven the documents to the client’s office faster than trying to email them with my lousy internet.

Luckily, my boss also works in Costa Rica so he gets it. He gets lousy connections and sketchy internet. He was still annoyed I left it to the last minute to send these documents, but once he calmed down about that, he was cool. And to make sure this didn’t happen again, he suggested I look into getting some reliable internet.

I didn’t mean to appear clueless, but my mouth dropped open at the thought of reliable internet in Costa Rica. Does such a thing exist?

Sure does, he says. You should look into satellite internet.

He tells me to call Itellum, the office provider. They have satellite internet now, meaning it’s accessible from anywhere.

This could be the best news I’ve heard in a long time. My mouth gawped even wider in amazement, which was okay because he couldn’t see me.

Bosses not seeing you is another perk of working from home. You know, like not getting out of your pajamas if you don’t feel like it.

The last time my boss gave me some good news was when he said I could work at home in the first place.

This was a great relief since a few months ago my car suffered a strange illness. With no parts available in Costa Rica and public transport between my place and the office involving multiple buses, I was happy to turn my spare room into an office.

I tried with the bus system, I really did. It’s not a bad system here in Costa Rica, and it’s possible to get anywhere on a bus. But if you’re not traveling a direct route and have to change buses, it’s a pain. I never seemed to get the hang of the bus schedule and oftentimes arrived late.

The ride was mind-numbing, and on more than one occasion the bus driver woke me telling me I had to get off as it was the end of the line. I was up a mountain somewhere and had to wait to catch a bus back down the hill into the city.

When I think about it, it’s amazing they didn’t fire me. They must like me because instead, they told me to work from home … as long as I got good internet. Which, I’ll be honest, I may have told them my internet was better than it was in my eagerness to work from the comfort of my pajamas.

Working from home has a lot more going for it than comfy bedtime-wear as office attire.

When you work from home, you’re always on time. You no longer need to drive or bus your way to work. No more packed buses and falling asleep half way up mountains.

No more packed lunches or unhealthy fast food options. Healthy, homemade food all the way from the comfort of your own kitchen.

Without a three-hour round trip commute every day, there’s more time for shopping and chores. There’s more time, period.

Working from home is a no-brainer. As long as you have fast, reliable internet.

I’m speaking as someone living in Costa Rica anyway, someone used to the perils and pitfalls of the internet here.

But if you’re not used to Costa Rica and its… let’s say… quirks, you’re definitely going to want fast, reliable internet from the get go. Especially if you’re one of the new wave of remote workers who live where they want.

The concept of remote working has been simmering for a while now, but the current COVID-19 pandemic has brought it bubbling to the surface.

What was once seen as a way for entrepreneurs and digital nomads to fund their traveling lifestyles is now fast becoming the norm. Office workers once chained down to the 9-5 now find themselves free to work when and from where they want.

And Costa Rica is on the radar for many of them.

Now Costa Rica is reopening its borders again, it’s possible we’re going to see a new type of tourist here.

With all the protocols to get in, and the possibility of people having to quarantine for two weeks when they go back home, it’s possible people will simply come to Costa Rica for longer. If they’re working from home anyway, why not do it from Costa Rica?

Why not come for a month or two instead of a week or two? Enjoy the country and then hunker down somewhere gorgeous to work? This is definitely a concept many tourist destinations around the work are exploring at the moment.

The only thing limiting the concept is reliable internet.

You don’t want to suffer through the dropped connections and “tortuga” slow download/upload times typical of Costa Rica. The frustration of inadequate internet service is difficult to deal with when working remotely.

Your employer or your clients may not understand the dilemma you face when trying to communicate with them. They won’t buy your “Sorry, I’m in Costa Rica and the internet sucks” excuse. Not one little bit.

So you need to fix it, but how?

If you already live in Costa Rica, you’ve probably tried the alternatives in your area and found yourself disillusioned.

They say they have exemplary service with a high download rate that seems amazing. But once you’re hooked up, the results are disappointing.

Then you realize that now many people are doing the exact same thing you are. As so many people are now working from home, internet traffic has exceeded it’s capacity. This pandemic has caused a lot of that. Thanks, COVID. You’re going to need something else.

What you need is what my boss told me I needed. Satellite internet.

Rural satellite internet has changed how many of us interact in Costa Rica.

It allows anyone, even people in remote parts of the country to access fast, reliable internet.

Itellum uses the HughsNet satellite (also called Jupiter 2). This satellite covers the vast majority of Costa Rica, getting to where other service providers can’t or won’t go to. Perfect if you’re at the beach or riding out the pandemic in the rainforest somewhere.

Costa Rica is full of remote places where until very recently, any internet (let alone good internet) was an impossible dream.

And you don’t need to worry about slow internet with Itellum, either. They offer nothing under 20 mbps download speed. Perfect for work and Netflix. I don’t see that spinning cursor of death anymore when trying to send files. I don’t “try to send files” anymore. I just send files.

And what if you don’t live in Costa Rica (yet)?

What if you’re planning a longish trip to see the country and take advantage of the whole remote work thing before your office opens up again?

Well, ask wherever you’re staying if they use Itellum’s satellite internet. They work with quite a few hotels and rental homes in Costa Rica.

If they do use Itellum, great. You’re going to be all set for a great time mixing work and vacation in sunny Costa Rica.

As for me, I’m all good now. Itellum has worked wonders and my boss loves me again.

Do I miss chatting with everyone in the office? Sometimes, sure. But with my fast internet I can host video conferences whenever I like and the best thing is, pants are optional.

Joanne Loewen is a writer, marketer, and entrepreneur living in Santa Ana, Costa Rica.