Puerto Rico: So close yet so far-My experience trying to get internet

When I first moved to Puerto Rico, I got Liberty Cable PR internet, but this was in Toa Alta. I later moved to Ocean Park, San Juan and made the service transfer without a problem. I was relative happy with Liberty, but I found their connectivity extremely slow during peak hours. Which shows a problem with their infrastructure. I thought I will buy a house in the Metro area, but my asthma and allergies couldn’t stand having to live with air conditioners. My husband and I found and obviously bought an amazing house in Aguas Buenas. We have great neighbors. We are less than 15 minutes away from Caguas and 10 min. from “downtown” Aguas Buenas. But it has been 11 days and I still can’t find who can provide me the internet service that I and my husband need to work from home. I am college professor at UPR-Rio Piedras and my husband runs his business remotely from home as well.

Liberty Cable told us that the cable doesn’t reach our house. Which is ironic,giving the fact the we are  living under what they consider to be “covered areas”. We even asked for a special order to have them extend the cable. But when the “supervisor” came, he said that it won’t get to our house. Since we can’t use their service, they are trying to charge us $200.00 to cancel the contract. I am baffled by this. Am I supposed to make my decision on where to buy a house based on their availability or otherwise punished? What I found extremely interesting, is that I found a map published by the not-for-profit organization ConnectPuerto Rico, which shows that where I live its supposed to be covered by DSL and Cable Broadband. But, you know,  “el papel lo aguanta todo.”

I called Claro PR to go then with DSL, which I heard is not great but at least is consistent. This at the recommendation of my front neighbor, I shall repeat, FRONT NEIGHBOR, who has Claro Internet. When the installation guy came, he immediately told me, without even getting out of the car: “I doubt you have telephone service in your house”. His explanation was that the telephone company only has 10 ports allocated for all the houses in our area. If those 10 “ports” are taken we will not only have no internet, but no phone service AT ALL! He then left, to double check if indeed there were all taken. He left without a call, I called him to see what he found, and he said that all the lines were taken, and that there’s nothing to do. I will have to wait for someone to give up their phone service and I have to be out in the  look for it, so then I can Claro to snatch that line. I found that so strickingly ridiculous, that I laugh, but then started to sob.

How am I supposed to be a great Professor, using the latest information available online, when I have to go to Rio Piedras to use it? Which by the way, the university has not provided me a computer or the software that I need to teach the classes that I was hired to teach, but that’s another “20 pesos”. How can my husband be able to produce and grow his business, which is becoming more global everyday, when we can’t get a steady and fast internet connection, in an area that for all accounts is “covered” by broadband internet? How can Puerto Rico progress and insert itself into the fast paced global economy when its citizens cannot use the most important tool to do so?

We are left with two options: Satellite or Wireless internet. And unfortunately all of them have caps on how much data we can use, or even worse, which is the case of Hughesnet, have the speed of DialUP with the cost of Optic Fiber Internet. This will make our professional work and our business less productive, more time consuming, and above all more expensive. Overall, Puerto Rico is not a competitive place to have a business. I feel powerless, especially since these companies, seem to not care that I want to pay for their service. I hear people like Karen Larzon, the ex-governor Fortuño and others in the field  talking about expanding broadband access. I think one thing is having access in theory, and another is having access in reality. At this point I feel there’s nothing I can do, as a prospect client, to have a reliable, fast, and cost-effective internet service that will allow me to become a better professional and for my husband to grow his business using uerto Rico as his hub. And the sad thing is, I AM NOT ONLY ONE!

I really hope this post reaches someone, anybody, who can help or at least is going through the same ordeal. If you are one of the “broadbandless” person, share your experience in the comments section below this post.


P.S. I typed this from a borrowed computer, which belongs to a collegue, and that I personally connected in my campus’ office.