Cuenca ISP’s

As of September 24, 2015

PuntoNet FiberOptic – Last week PuntoNet installed a FiberOptic connection to my house in NorthWest Cuenca. I opted for the 10 mb plan. The reason I changed from the TV Cable 6 mb plan was that TV Cable after 3 years of great service was not fast enough for streaming TV over the 3 boxes (Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV ) I had in my home. The biggest attraction of the new service was

  • No sharing of the line with other subscribers
  • Minimum guarantee of 80% of the contracted bandwidth.
  • Upload speed matches download speed

The installation went without a flaw and after a week the service has met all my expectations. Below is the cost of the service for different plans


TV Cable (pronounced TV Cab lay) – This is a preliminary review based on my experience in my new house.

Along with my my wife I rented a house on the Northwest section of Cuenca. TV Cable web site is .

You have to commit to a year contract.  We opted for the 6.1 mb service with Wifi. Free install and router.  You need to be near conversant in Spanish or have an interpreter to sign up for the service.  You also need a bank account or a credit card.  The registration for the service took about 15 minutes. Bring a copy of your cedula/passport and bank account #.  I went in on a Monday and the service was installed as promised on Wednesday morning. They arrived on time and the installation took 15 minutes including wifi configuration.

So far the service has met or exceeded 6.1 mb download.  Of the 3 different services I reviewed so far TV Cable is the best bang for the buck.  I’ll follow up with complete review in a month.


  • Best bang for the buck
  • Installation promised and delivered on time
  • No charge for rental router or installation


  • Hard to find office
  • Spanish speaking only staff

ETAPA  – This is a city owned service providing Internet service through the phone line.  You don’t need a phone but must have the phone jack available.  I presently have the 1 mb down service. for $24 per month with a Wi-Fi router.


  • Speed higher than advertised
  • Very reliable
  • Affordable


  • Took forever to set up an appointment
  • Never showed up on 3 scheduled appointments without a phone call to cancel

CentroNet – This service is owned by Centrosur the Electrical Company in Cuenca.  The service is provided via a modem connected to the electrical outlet. I still have this service as part of the Condo fee.  I pay $17 a month for 1 mb of download and I had to supply my own router.


  • Installation was easy
  • Very affordable
  • Any room install


  • Have to supply your own modem
  • Speed is always less than promised
  • Very unreliable – Often down for days at a time.
  • Down practically every day after 15 months of service

DirecTV – Although in the future DirecTV may be offering Internet service I thought I would include them on this page because most newcomers to Cuenca will want TV.


  • Prompt Installation (Done in 20 minutes) and came when promised
  • Superb picture.  Stunning HD
  • In 9 months I haven’t had a blip.


  • Most of the channels are in Spanish
  • Limited selection of programs from North America
  • Pay On Demand expensive

This page will be a work in progress. I encourage contributions from other residents in Cuenca to share their experience of if they know of other Internet Service Providers

33 thoughts on “Cuenca ISP’s

  1. I had ETAPA in my first 6 months in Cuenca. Overall the service was good. After 6 months, I moved into another apartment about a half a mile up the street. Because of my good experience at the first apartment, I had ETAPA installed at the new apartment. The results were disasterous. Even though I had purchased a higher speed in my new apartment, most of the day the service was as slow as dial up (not an exaggeration). I had ETAP try to improve the service with no improvements. I cancelled the service.

    Next I tried Puntonet. The service worked well for a few days, but eventually it was too slow. I had almost no upload speed and the download speed was around 150, even though I had purchased 1mb. Although I had the service people out a few times to try to fix it, they never improved the service.

    Next, I tried Centonet. I believe I purchased a 1mb service like I did with ETAPA and Puntonet. The service is more expensive than the others, but I still work for a living and must have a good connection wtih my office in Florida. I am getting upload and download speeds in excess of 1mb. I need this speed because I do a lot of video conferences. I am very pleased with the service so far. I have had the service for two months now.

    • David, thanks for the observations on ETAPA. From what I hear others have had the same experience as you who have subscribed to ETAPA. I think it depends on how they compress the bandwidth.

      • Actually no it has nothing to do with compression. Compression is never done by any ISP. The problem is with ADSL. ADSL runs over telephone lines and is VERY prone to noise interference especially at distance. It is also VERY limited in distance from your residence to where the first set of ETAPA equipment is located in the street. It is also subject to problems with moisture. This is not an issue with ETAPA. It is the same wherever ADSL is used in the world. The distance variable is why sometimes it works well for some people and not others. ETAPA also offers fiber service as does PuntoNet. Fiber is much better as it transmits light and not electrical current (i.e., it is not subject to electrical interference and the light can be transmitted over much longer distances than can electrical current.

        Having said that you might wonder why TVCable can transmit over longer distances than telephone wires. The answer is that coaxial cable has much better shielding against interference and is less prone to interference from moisture problems. Also the core of the cable is thicker in copper than telephone wire. All of this means greater transmission distance. This is not to say that TVCable cannot have problems with wiring. Poorly crimped connectors or poorly installed connectors can cause problems.

        Likewise, fiber connections can be problematic. Connectors are installed on fiber cable just as they are installed on electrical cable and if they are not installed properly problems can result.

        One last thing: This thing I keep hearing about connections not being shared is deceiving. The same argument is used by Telus, the company that uses ADSL back in Western Canada. They also provide fiber connections. With ADSL you are not sharing with anyone but only between your residence and the first set of ADSL equipment located in the street not far from your residence. After that you share the bandwidth with all the other ADSL users (at least within a certain area of the city) for that particular ISP. The same is true if you have a fiber connection. The further away from your residence the more the sharing occurs. To make it work properly the ISPs make a set amount of bandwidth available on a particular connection. They plan this based on the number of users in a particular area and the heaviest usage patterns. But, to say this once again, you are ALWAYS sharing bandwidth. Don’t listen to this nonsense as an argument to make you think the service is going to be better. It is simply not true!

  2. Really helpful info Lenny. Good job. is nice option that wouldn’t require a IP blocker (I actually had to sign up with an IP disguiser to get it here in the states! It’s designed for expats and it’s licencing requires the users to be outside the US). You can get the big 3 broadcast stations for free.

  3. Thanks for the update Lenny. I really appreciate it as we will be in Cuenca in about 3 weeks so you have made the research part much easier for me to choose. How much is the new cable service for the plan you chose? Also is that the fastest speed of their offerings?

  4. Did they run RG6 into your house to the modem Lenny? When you go here: What is your ping time and what is your upload speed? (click on the green button that says “Begin Test”). I usually do it three time to get a good reading. Try it in the middle of the night, then around 7PM (the busy time). Your ping time will tell you how far your cable runs before it hits a fiber mux.

    If you want to see what your speeds are outside of Ecuador, you can put your mouse on the green map, left click (remember what Jobs said his mouse would only have one button??) hold, and then drag the map up to, say, LA or Portland. Then do the test again. Hold on to your hat!

    Hope to see you two soon.

    Portland Oregon

    • Sorry to disagree but the ping times will not tell you how far the cable runs before a fiber mux. Ping times will increase with distance because of different transmission mediums and traffic congestion. But in no way can you tell the distance of a cable going from your residence and to the first hop (router) in a network (which might be several miles or more from your residence). The first bit of ISP equipment your traffic will see from your residence will not be a router. It will be a switch or a modem or a fiber mux.

      • Actually I should clarify this: Ping times will increase with the length of fiber cable as well as what I have already mentioned. But the ping times would be so small for a several miles of fiber optic cable, directly from your residence, that you would not be able to see much difference and certainly would not be able to determine the length of the fiber.

  5. So, I’m in a temporary apartment in southwest Cuenca using CentroNet. With, I’m pinging at 42-53ms (not bad), my download speeds are 590Kbps to 760Kbps (can live with that), but my upload speeds are all over the map. In the mornings before about 10:00 AM, I can get around 400Kbps, but after about 10 or so, my upload speeds can drop to 20k or even 0k. In fact, without fail, every afternoon, it becomes impossible for me to upload even small files. We can check email, surf the web, but cannot upload. I then discover the owner of the apartment has the cheapest plan with CentroNet, which is also an 8:1 plan. Does that mean 8 customers are sharing this one line? I don’t care about this apartment’s connection, but I’m trying to understand this so when we move to our permanent abode, I can make sure I get what I need and get what I pay for. Anybody have any idea what might be going on, here?

    Thanks for any insight anyone can provide.

  6. Lenny, I much appreciated your reviews. Especially about TVCABLE. We are in the process of moving to Cuenca and noticed that Claro also has a package deal for similar prices. Any thoughts as to how they compare, and which might be better up along River Yanuncay?

    • Thanks for the kind words Karl. I think Claro only offers Internet through a USB modem or a smartphone. In any case Internet when it comes to DSL for now is on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis. We had excellent service with ETAPA when we lived on the Yanuncay at Primero de Mayo and terrible service at Los Alamos y 3 de Noviembre

  7. Lenny, thanks so much for the great cuenca focused tech info on your blog on this ISP page in specific. I’m a tech consultant with a wife, four young kids and a serious hankering to get a cultural experience in with my family. My employer has given me a tentative OK to pursue moving out of the US for a year provided I can secure reliable internet. The details here are just what I’ve been looking for. Muchos gracias!

  8. I need to point out that I have TVCable, and while during the day I am getting 7mb (my current plan) and sometimes greater, at night that speed drops to 1.0. On weekend nights when everyone in Cuenca is on the Internet, that speed sometimes drops to <150kbs, making it impossible to stream video from Netflix, Amazon etc.

    One other thing. In 2014 (no specific date yet), a new 4G LTE ultra-broadband network will come online in EC. It'll be a 6,000km fiber-optic cable that will wind its way from Miami thru the Caribbean Islands, Panama and Colombia, to Manta, EC, with a total speed of 80Tbps. Alcatel-Lucent is laying the cable, and CNT will be distributing the signal throughout the country.

    • Sam, I experience the same problem. Although during the early morning hours I may get as high as 20 mb down. I signed up a year ago
      for the 6.0 mb plan. Thursday night I was so frustrated I just gave up trying to stream anything. But Friday and Saturday night was
      just fine. I’ve said many times that Internet connection in Cuenca is a neighborhood by neighborhood issue.

      I’m ecstatic about the new Cable. Can’t wait for higher speeds.

      • Yes, your connection greatly has to do with sharing issues. The router and switch interfaces that provide higher speeds are more expensive. That means the ISPs will only install what they think they can get away with. So, if they overshare a connection that is what you get. That is why it can vary quite dramatically at different times during the day.

        As to the fiber connection from Manta, the only difference you will see is smaller ping times going in and out of the country. The latency (higher ping times) does increase exiting Ecuador. This could be due to an over congested link and could result in interruptions in streaming at certain hours of the day. But it is more likely due to the transmission medium used between Ecuador and the next hop (Panama or Guatemala). There are three submarine cables that go between Ecuador and Miami (but not directly). Two go via Panama and the other goes via Guatemala. Here is a link to the Submarine Cable Map:

  9. Hi Lenny, We too have been here about 3 years. Until recently we have been happy with TVCable service (in both locations where we have lived), but in the last month or two the service has degraded significantly. TVCable has also instituted a $13 fee service fee if they come and cannot find a problem. Since I am pretty sure the issue is more widespread than just our barrio and the issues are intermittent, I am unwilling to have them check. We have a standalone private residence just north of Primero de Mayo and Avenida Las Americas and I understand there is a HUGE ($300) fee to install Puntonet fiber optic cable to our residence. Please keep us (you readers) updated on your satisfaction with the fiber optic service and make any suggestions your can.

    • You’re welcome Mark. It’s been only 3 weeks of fiber optic puntonet service and there was one outage that lasted 2 hours. So far they have been spot on with their contract commitment of 80% of 10 mb and I even get higher upload speeds.

  10. I have Puntanet fiber optic (one week) and it is great not sharing with seven others. It came with a simple router. If I add a VPN router, do I plug the VPN router into the existing Putanet router or do I replace it?

    Can I flash an old D-Link DIR-655 router to be VPN? If it bricks, I won’t cry.

  11. Hello! Very helpful – thank you. Do you know if an Apple wireless router is compatible with Etapa’s service? We have an Etapa router but considering bringing a used Apple router. Thank you!

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