Learning Uruguay

Every day brings ????

Cell phones

Posted by urufish on May 5, 2007

There are 3 carriers in Uruguay. Ancel (the incumbent), Movistar and CTI. Google them for for their websites and relevant pricing information. They have material on both contract and prepaid phones.  Ancel, being the original telco, is more expensive (majority opinion), Movistar’s in the middle and the new kid on the block, CTI seems to be the cheapest. The vast majority of Uruguayans use prepaid cards. You’re in good company there. That’s easily done and you can get cards in almost every corner store. Your problem will be the phone and chip.

 I know that you can buy phones in all the agencies around town. There are piles of them. Just walk 10 blocks in either direction of most of Montevideo and you’ll pass a few. I bought my daughter’s at Motociclo. http://www.motociclo.com.uy/motociclo/. You can get a phone for U$S20.00 and that includes 300 text messages and $200 worth of voice.

I dont know if they’ll sell you one on a passport. Unfortunately, every time we bought a phone here, I was with my wife and she used her cedula.  Going to have to research that and update the post. 

OK. so now you have the phone which automatically comes with a SIM. You can either buy a phone card in the same store or go to one of the corner stores. For rates, check the websites for the 3 providers above.

The other option, and the one I used starting a few years back is just to buy the chip here and use your phone from up north. If you have a world phone (4 frequencies) and it’s not blocked, you’re in business. If it’s blocked, it may be worth it to take it to a local shop here and have it unblocked. Probably less than buying the U$S 20 phone.  If you want to an unblocked phone, search the web.  There are hundreds of companies selling them on the web. 

One catch.. if you want to use your phone here in Uruguay, you have to declare the phone when you enter Uruguay. You pay a few bucks. They give you a paper that says it’s authorized to use here. You go to the centro offices for the provider you want to use in Uruguay, eg. Ancel, Movistar or CTI. Show them your document and your phone. They’ll sell you a chip for $50 (that’s pesos) and away you go.

There is very little in the way of minute offers here. With prepaid phone service, you pay by the minute, you buy ‘x’ minutes. That’s it. Even contracts here aren’t that competitive.  There are plans that give you a discount if you talk within the network and if it’s one of 5 friends and if it’s your grandmother/grandfather and a plan for under 21 year olds, but you wont see the volume discounts and you surely wont see unlimited calling.  I figure that’s years away.  That’s why everyone in Uruguay uses SMS to communicate… not talk.

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