Using a mobile phone in Ecuador is easy. Take the phone you have from your country. There is a good chance that if it is a newer quad band GSM phone model, it will work in Ecuador. Try this first, go to the Porta or Movistar outlets that sell phones in the city you are in and ask if they have a ‘SIM card’ that works for your phone. They will try and if it works, great because it doesn’t get any easier than this. Remember that to do this you must have an unlocked phone. I won’t go into details because you can search for this information on the Internet. If the SIM card works in your phone, simply buy a recharge to top up your phone’s minutes. This is the same as prepaid minutes. Both Porta and Movistar use this concept. If you want and are going to stay for a long time, you can also choose a plan.
If the sim option doesn’t work for your phone, you’ll need to buy a phone there. There’s plenty to choose from and the best phones don’t come cheap. Expect to pay US prices. However, if you are not picky about the phone, there is a good type of basic phone that you can get with Movistar and Porta for around $50.00 USD. Both companies have an Amigo kit that will give you a basic phone and a few minutes of talk time. Time to start.
Cellular coverage in Ecuador is relatively good for a developing country. The main cities, such as Quito and Guayaquil, have general coverage. In the Andes, valleys often have very patchy coverage, while a signal can usually be found on top of hills and ridges. The main coastal tourist areas are really well connected. Smaller communities may have weak or no coverage. Remote parts of the Amazon basin are generally not covered. As companies build more cell towers, coverage across the country is expected to improve. Lately, more money is being poured into infrastructure projects across the country. Ecuador relies heavily on tourism, so expect things to change in the future.
The simplicity of having a mobile phone in Ecuador makes it easy for you to get one even if you don’t speak the language. Worst case scenario, you spend $50.00 on a starter phone.