According to a survey conducted in 2010 by the International Telecommunications Union, 45% of Chileans had access to the Internet through a combination of fixed-line and mobile services.
The country’s telecoms infrastructure is provided by a range of private companies, including Spanish giant Movistar (Telefonica), and is made up of a network of satellite, cable and microwave relay services that connect Chile domestically and internationally.
While a trend in recent years has seen a drop in fixed line telephone usage as mobile coverage has expanded and handset costs have come down, services in remote areas of Chile can still be unreliable. Likewise, Internet coverage outside of major cities relying on mobile 3G and satellite is somewhat patchy.
Monthly rates for telephone and Internet services are relatively high, with a lot of people opting for package deals that bundle TV, phone and broadband when setting up utilities at home.
A typical package in Santiago will cost around US$100 a month and include free local calls and a reliable Internet speed of 5MB. If you are renting a property and do not have residency status, ask your landlord or real estate agent about what’s available in the property as some are willing to handle these utilities for you, or else help you to get line rental set up.
Beware though, some apartment blocks have been known to offer a limited choice of providers, with some seemingly allowing certain operators to monopolise service to their building.
Finally, a word of advice on long-distance and international calling. VoIP (Voice over IP) software, such as Skype, is by far the cheapest way to make phone calls between countries, and even sometimes inside Chile.
The cost of a headset (not even strictly necessary, but useful) will be recouped easily if you make regular audio or video calls, and the process is a lot less hassle than the country’s complex dialling procedure.
Viability will of course depend on the stability and speed of your Internet connection, but expats wanting to stay in touch with home may want to take this into consideration when deciding on which Internet plan they purchase.