Fellow remote worker, I feel you in your search. I’ve been working remotely from Ecuador for a Belgian company since 2015. I live in and coordinate Punta la Barca, a small colive-cowork at the coast (know more here). I dare to claim that this connection I work on, is one of the best internet connections in Ecuador & surrounding countries in South America (!!). Let me share my insights about the why and how of this stable connection 🤙.
Why is it so difficult to find out if a place has ‘good internet’?
A simple speed test will show you an idea of the mbps and pin you can get. A place caring somewhat about decent internet will be able to achieve a speed between 50 and 100 mbps. The hard thing though, and what really matters, is to get it stable throughout time. When at night everyone watches netflix, it doesn’t go slow. When there is a street party with lots of facebook lives, you can still do your video call. When it rains and the electricity goes off in the whole city, you have a back up. And when the back up doesn’t work, you have another back up.
Why do I dare to claim Punta la Barca has the best internet in Ecuador for digital nomads?
My claim is based on talking with fellow online working travelers throughout Ecuador. Every month for so many years we’ve been having remote workers at Punta la Barca brag about the internet connection here, again and again. I hear plenty of stories about other places and how the owners don’t really care about the connection. Yeah.. after so many years hearing these comments from digital nomads, I actually give it confidence enough to put it in a blog post (*). And even more. My colleagues in Europe have more trouble connecting to calls than I have from here. No kidding 😏.
So how do we get this connection?
Santa Marianita isn’t this “magic village where the internet is fast and stable always”. It’s a continuous effort to make sure the internet connection goes well for remote working.
-> Everything starts with the internet provider, how they can arrange the connection, and our relationship with them for solving sudden problems. We’ve changed internet providers three times in our first years due to bad experiences (especially service-related). We finally sticked with the last one, happy ever since. They installed a separate fiberglass connection for the coliving. We hold a good relationship, making them help quickly with any problem. And we pay it -easily 4x more than the standard connection around.
-> Important as well, are backups. Because outages are normal throughout Ecuador, mostly because of electricity outages. The first backup we installed is our solar system. It is a separate system that powers the modem and two routers with two solar panels. For most outages, it bridges the gap. The second backup is mobile internet -and there, location matters. We are located on top of the hill where the three main mobile providers have their antennas located. This makes the mobile internet actually quite stable and reliable! You can use it through your foreign mobile sim card, though it is super easy and cheap to get a local prepaid sim card as well.
-> Network knowledge is important as well. Put the wrong routers, and it can actually slow your connection. Put the wrong configurations, and not everyone is able to connect. We find experts mainly at the internet provider, but the icing on the cake has been put by fellow remote workers living at Punta la Barca. Great IT knowledge is well represented in the digital nomad world.. Many, many thanks Tim, Adrian, Jan, Bert, Eric, and all others improving the colivings’ internet system!
-> The basis of it all though, is understanding the need. Only we remote workers understand the stress peak that comes when the internet goes down in the wrong moment 😅, and are willing to do anything at whatever time to find a solution. It is probably this understanding that makes us stand out. And in the worst case, we’re in it together -a consolation that counts ❤.
(*) Honesty note. Did I do a thorough research study of the internet down/upload speed, stability and latency around Ecuador? Honestly, no (although, now thinking about it, it could be a possibility to organize between remote workers here.. But then it would outdate so quickly So as a scientific researcher (which is my actual profession 🙃), my claim doesn’t hold.