One of the great things about travelling in Uruguay is that free wifi is available everywhere.
Hotels provide it for free. Restaurants and cafes too. The airport wifi is free. Long distance buses have free internet connections. Even local buses have wifi!
Check out your wifi connections on any Montevideo street and see bus companies CUTCSA and COT with their respective bus numbers appearing and then disappearing on your network list.
Disappointingly, going against this positive trend, Buquebus, the international ferry company, has started charging for connectivity on their Argentina-Uruguay crossings. Come on, Buquebus, even the international airport at Carrasco has free wifi all over! Get with the local beat!
Children using their XOs in Salto in west Uruguay. The computers and internet connections are provided for free by the government. Photo: A K Mahan
Uruguay is the first country in the world to completely implement the One Laptop Per Child initiative. Every child in state-run education in both primary and secondary school has a XO laptop. The project began in the interior of the country (reversing the typical tendency for the capital city, where half of Uruguay’s population lives, to get new developments first) and only rolled out in the capital once the entire of the interior was covered. Wifi connections are broadcast from school buildings, so it’s typical to see small children with their XOs perched in plazas or school steps out of school time.
Right now most homes in Montevideo are getting hooked up to fibre optic connections at no extra price. That includes homes which up until now have had a telephone line but no internet. They can get a fibre optic internet connection at no extra cost (as long as they do not consume over a certain amount of bandwidth, at which point to keep connecting they can buy a pay-as-you-use token).
One thing to note, internet connectivity and pricing is controlled by the state-owned telecoms company, ANTEL. They are doing a pretty good job.
Photo: Children using their XOs in Salto in west Uruguay. The computers and internet connections are provided for free by the government. By A K Mahan.