My Internet Speed in Cuenca

Here are the results of my current Internet speed test here in Cuenca, Ecuador.

Image of the results of an Internet Speed Test from Cuenca, Ecuador
Internet Speed Test from Cuenca, Ecuador

1.89 MBPS down, .37 MBPS up

Living outside of the United States for almost four weeks now in a 3rd World economy, I have experienced the divide between the access we have in the United States and the access Ecuadorians have here in Cuenca. To me, the distinct and noticeable differences in Internet connectivity limits productivity. While web pages load fairly fast, it’s the sharing of large files across the network that is a problem.

For example, I’m using Tunnel Bear so that I can purchase downloads from Beatport for my next mix show, but even though I have an IP redirect and can access Beatport, downloading 20 320kbps files is achingly slow.

I’m also taking large photos at high resolutions with my 8-year old Fuji Finepix S9100 that I want to push to Google Drive or Flickr for storage. At 9M in Fine mode, some of these images are 4MB, but if I’m pushing 200 of them, it takes all night. And, at times, depending on where I am, the connection to Flickr times out and I have to retry all over again. Imagine if I had a new Canon or some other high end camera, where each photo was 10MB. It would take forever for just one photo to get up into the cloud.

Say you don’t have a backup drive with you, nor do you want one because it could be stolen. You’re trying to push your files to the cloud, but your connection speed is low. If anything were to happen to your machine or that backup drive, you’d be at a loss. Sure, I could reformat the images, but that means exporting the originals at a lower resolution out of iPhoto, so you can transfer smaller files to the cloud. But, that defeats the purpose of taking high res photos that you may need in the future.

My new MacBook 13″ with Flash storage only has 250GBs available, so when you’re taking 300 photos of Paute, Ecuador, you can use up available space pretty quickly. The benefit of the cloud is to be able to get those photos up and stored for safe keeping, but if you’re connection speeds are poor, then you’re always at risk of losing important data – especially through theft.

The public library downtown has a few Internet connected computers, but no wifi. They had it, but something happened and now they don’t. Even at the local mall where they have a wifi zone, speeds are pretty slow. I haven’t yet been able to get on the Universidad de Cuenca network yet, so I’m not sure how fast that is. In my mind, the speeds I’m experiencing here restrict the sharing of content, which then restricts the growth of of commerce. Someone told me yesterday they are laying fiber from Florida to Ecuador, but news reports say that 80 Tbps pipe being laid by Alcatel-Lucent won’t be ready for action until Q3 of next year.

Image of Cuenca Transit Website Offline
Cuenca Transit Website is offline

Another oddity is that the Cuenca transit website has been down for days. There’s no good way to find out the public bus information, other than an old post on GringoPost, which is a website that provides ex-Pats with local information. Someone used Google Maps to draw the bus routes on GringoPost, a popular ex-Pat website, but now that a few routes have changed, they are not accurate.

Because there is real danger in actually holding your iPhone on a public street and having it be stolen from you if you’re not paying attention (happened to my Dentist down here), I am using a regular Alcatel phone where you have to press the number 1 three times to get to C. Most of us probably forgot the days where that was how you wrote your texts. Just that minor advancement – the ability to type on a keyboard on a Blackberry or iPhone, rapidly changed the way we communicate by texting. I can’t tell you how many texts I’ve started only to leave in Draft mode because I accidentally deleted something or pressed the wrong button. It’s extremely
frustrating to go backwards in time and not forward. You think, wow, we actually did this 15-years ago, before the advancements we’ve made and how the heck did we actually get anything done!

Lastly, the one thing unrelated to Internet speed, but I thought was worth mentioning is the proclivity of glass embedded on the tops of walls, iron fences, and barbed wire or other makeshift security around almost every house as far as the eye can see.

pitcture of makeshift glass shards on top of a wall in Paute
Glass shards on top of a wall in Paute

I wonder if Ecuandorians really need walled compounds or is it just because the person next door built a wall, so I should have one too? I wonder if there is really that much crime here, which I have yet to see, that says we must protect our homes with walls from the rest of the population? While Ecuadorians are lovely people, there is this overarching fear of crime that has forced this barricading of yourself in your home.

Photo of a typical street in Paute, Ecuador
Typical street in Paute, Ecuador

Yes, you do have iron bars on windows in Brooklyn or houses in East LA. I get that. We do have entire communities in Florida or other places that are behind walls, but it’s the whole community surrounded by one wall, not each specific house with its own walls. That’s the difference. Here, every house is behind its own wall with its own barbed wire, walls and other types of security. It’s like everyone has their own compound.

Just some observations from down here. Have never lived in a 3rd world country before. It’s very interesting, exciting and fun, but sometimes I miss home.


  1. Dave E. says:

    Hi Tony, great article! My wife and I are getting ready to move to Cuenca and I absolutely need a fast reliable internet connection and will pay what it takes to get it I need a minimum upload speed of 0.50 mbps but would prefer something even faster. Have you found any providers who offer something this fast? We are planning to make the move in March.

    • Tony Zeoli says:

      Hi Dave,

      Because we’re only here for two months, I have yet to formally investigate the options. However, if you need help, Tony Bishop is your man through Kate Bishop. | Technology Specialists
      Email (1): info [at]
      Email (2): kgb [at]
      Phone: 098 026 5238 | 097 974 2122

      Monday – Thursday, 9:00am – 6:00pm | Friday, 9:00am – 1:00pm
      Saturday, By Appointment | Sunday, Closed

      Or you can also contact Lenny Charnoff – graygeek [at]

      They both are well familiar with the lay of the land here in regards to setting up fast Internet.

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