Ecuador Cost of Living / Ecuador Culture / Ecuador Lifestyle / Ecuador Utilities

Ecuador Cell Phones: Porta Friends *555

There are three major cell phone operators in Ecuador, Porta, Movistar, and Alegra. These companies play a significant part in the Ecuador culture. While there are monthly calling plans available, many people opt to use phone cards to purchase a certain amount of minutes. I use a Porta phone, not because I think it’s better, but because that’s the store I happened to be by when I bought my phone.

The costs of using the Porta phone vary depending on whether you call a land line, a cell phone outside the Porta system, or another Porta phone within the system. For land lines and other cell phones, the price is $.61 per minute. Just see how fast a $10 phone card can be used up when you call a land line or a cell phone outside the Porta system!

But Porta has a special program called “Porta Friends,” which is the least expensive. With the friends designation, the charge is $.10 plus tax, or about $.12 per minute. This compares with around $.38 per minute without the “friends” designation for a Porta to Porta call.

To register your numbers with “Porta Friends,” simply dial *555, then press the call button. The recorded operator will come on in a scratchy recording. Don’t necessarily try to understand what she says, unless you speak good Spanish. Press the number one. Then another recording will come on. Again, press the number 1.

At this point, the operator will tell you to enter your friend’s number followed by the # sign. When you do so, the operator will tell you whether you number was accepted or if the number is from another cellular system. She will also tell you how many numbers you have registered.

That’s all there is to it. With this simple action, you will save a significant amount of money on your most frequently called numbers.

Here’s another tip. When you buy a phone card, the $10 cards charge $.38 per minute for Porta to Porta calls, but for the $6 cards, that price jumps to $.61 per minute. Remember, however, your cards have about a 6 week expiration date, so don’t buy a larger number of minutes than you think you are going to use in the next six weeks.

WHEW!! Yes, it is a bit complex, but that’s how the companies make money. If they can confuse you into not paying attention, you pay through the nose!!

If anyone has any information to share about Movistar and/or Alegro, please post.

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4 Comments

  1. Jorge Alvarez says:

    (Expect CNT and Alegro’s internet feed to drop dramatically once they finish upgrading the PANAME underwater cable by the end of this year :D .)

    I meant fees not feed* :D

  2. Jorge Alvarez says:

    Hi There, things have changed now, Alegro has now the same coverage if not more than movistar and porta according to recent research by CONATEL, also please stop using porta and switch to alegro, it is a state owned company that is here to serve us a not some greedy foreign investor, it was alegro who broke porta and movistar’ duopoly, largely reducing cost; they were also the first company to introduce 3G coverage on all the major cities, that is why they are now offering unlimited wireless internet for 49 dollars, the speed is of 1024 Mbps, that would normally cost 60 dollars with CNT (also state owned) Ecuadors fixed telephone operator (Expect CNT and Alegro’s internet feed to drop dramatically once they finish upgrading the PANAME underwater cable by the end of this year :D .) Choosing State owned companies above all others is a form of supporting and thanking our government for all the subsidized services and products that we get, such as water, gasoline, propane, electricity (only for poor, but we should all get near free electricity once the COCA CODO SINCLAIR hydro plants get completed in 2015), and food just to name a few :D

    It makes us happy to know that you are investing in our country by moving here, please keep it up, we will return the favor :)

  3. Gabriella says:

    Alegro sucks. Coverage radious is very short.

  4. Well as it was said before there are three phone companies in Ecuador. They are Alegro (not Alegra), Movistar and Porta.

    The least expensive is Alegro which charges $0.15 no matter what type of number you are calling. (It can be a landline, Alegro, Porta or Movistar number). It is called “tarifa naranja” and it is available only with the new Alegro GSM service.

    Movistar is a safe choice for people living in the sierra and especially Quito because most people in Quito have Movistar.
    Movistar has basically two options that are:
    -”Tarifa Movistar:” $0.10 From Movistar to Movistar and $0.28 From Movistar to other companies.
    -”Tarifa Multicolor” Costs $0.17 from Movistar to any other number just like “Alegro’s Tarifa Naranja.”

    Porta is the most expensive company but it has its reasons.
    Porta is the company with the best coverage, so if you are the type of person the will go to remote Ecuadorian places you should really think of spending a little bit more. Also it is has the biggest number of clients, so most people in Ecuador use Porta.
    The cost to call other company numbers is $0.61.
    To call other porta numbers $0.38
    And you can register 5 porta numbers “Amigos Porta” to talk for $0.10.

    It is important to note that this information applies to prepaid service. Also it applies for a $10 prepaid card. The more money you put in, the lower the cost per minute, but as Gary said the minutes will expire after a month or so.

    I hope this information was useful. It is interesting to see a “gringo” blog in my country. It is very well written and with tons of useful information. Bravo!

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