Mobile Phones in Costa Rica
Due to the free trade agreement (TLC) of 2007, the mobile phone and insurance market of Costa Rica had to be liberalised. Although some negative impacts are expected (since many measures will mostly benefit the USA), some positive aspects have been the expansion of telecommunication companies and insurance providers.
Until 2011, ICE (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad) - the country’s state-owned electricity company was the only mobile phone provider in Costa Rica. For a long time it was not possible for tourists to get a mobile phone number.
With the Kölbi line, the ICE is now offering prepaid cellphones that are available for foreigners. Prepaid SIM Cards are available at many shops throughout the country (at the time of writing you had to bring your passport and two copies of it along). This is definitely a cheaper option for calling within Costa Rica than paying roaming fees at home. You can actually get your Kölbi SIM card right at the airport Juan Santamaria: There is a ICE/Kölbi kiosk in the baggage claim hall.
In 2012 Movistar and Claro have also entered the mobile market and began building their own network. Currently, ICE's Kölbi still offers the best coverage throughout the country at reasonable rates.