A sign stands in the street outside an internet cafe in the Peruvian Andes. Photo by Nicolas Nova, flickr.com.

Now that we’re fully immersed in the age of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, digital nomads, smartphones, Snapchat and narcissism, internet access in Peru is just about as important as knowing how to get to Peru in the first place.

Thankfully, the internet in Peru is OK — not perfect, but typically adequate for most needs. So you don’t have to scrub Peru off your bucket list just because you can’t live without uploading a selfie every half hour.

Mbps, average speed in Peru

Mbps, global average

Mbps, average speed in USA

How Fast is the Internet in Peru Compared to Other Countries?

In its State of the Internet (Q1 2017) report, Akamai Technologies — an American content delivery network (CDN) that serves between 15 and 30 percent of all web traffic — provides average and peak connections speeds for countries across the globe.

According to the report, Peru has an average connection speed of 6.2 megabits per second (Mbps) and an average peak connection speed of 47.5 Mbps per second. Peru’s average connection speed places it at 91 in the global rankings, out of 143 countries.

The global average is 7.2 Mbps. South Korea has the fastest connection speeds at 28.6 Mbps. The USA comes in 10th place, with 18.7 Mbps.

The internet in Peru, therefore, is slightly slower than the global average and significantly slower than in countries such as Norway, Sweden, South Korea, Japan and the USA.

By South American standards, Peru’s internet connection speeds are fairly average. Uruguay and Chile lead the way, with Brazil and Argentina only slightly ahead of Peru. Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela and Paraguay all have slower average connection speeds than Peru.

Peru ranks better for mobile connection speeds. The average connection speed for mobile in Peru is 8.3 Mbps. In the Americas, only the United States and Canada rank above Peru for mobile.

Internet Access in Peru by City and Region

Internet access in Peru varies greatly depending on location. It’s a rugged country with many isolated towns and cities, some of which are poorer than others with less developed infrastructure.

Generally speaking, you’ll find the fastest and most reliable internet connections in Peru’s major cities, and the slowest and least reliable in smaller towns and villages further away from the cities. Lima tends to have the fastest internet in Peru, especially in districts like Miraflores and San Isidro. The internet in Cusco is OK, but might give you a few headaches if you’re trying to upload or download large files.

One notable exception to the big-city rule is Iquitos. Internet speeds in Iquitos have improved greatly over the last few years (it was stuck at dial-up velocities for a long time), but they’re still slow. Considering Iquitos’ isolated Amazonian location, that’s no great surprise. Chachapoyas, despite all the recent investments in the city and the wider Amazonas Region, also has pretty bad internet connections.

Working Online in Peru

As long as you’re in a large town or city and not in a rural location, you should be able to find an internet connection that will at least allow you to use Netflix, YouTube, talk to friends and family on Skype, and upload photos to Facebook, Instagram etc.

I live in Tarapoto in the northern high-jungle region, and my internet is pretty good (it’s actually better here than it is in rural Wales, where my parents live). I work online, uploading and downloading files, including large photos, films and videos, and publishing to WordPress etc. Most days, this is hassle free. And when I’m traveling in Peru, I can normally find an internet connection that will let me work (although I did give up in Iquitos).

If you also need to work online as you travel in Peru, you should be OK — although if you have a lot of live chat engagements (as an English teacher, for example), you will end up canceling some because of poor connections. There will be days when the connection fails or everything runs unbearably slowly, but most of the time you’ll be able to get things done.

How and Where to Get Online in Peru

Nearly every hostel and hotel in Peru offers free Wi-Fi, so you’ll easily be able to get online if you’re traveling in Peru with a laptop, tablet, smartphone or other device. Some hotels and hostels also have communal computers that you can use, sometimes for a small fee.

Many restaurants, cafes and bars also offer free Wi-Fi, which you can use as long as you purchase something. Always be careful with your devices when using them in public spaces.

You’ll also find internet cafes dotted around, even in some small towns and villages. Rates are often between S/ 3 and S/ 5 per hour.

Municipalities in Lima are increasingly providing free Wi-Fi zones. In Miraflores, for example, you can get online at a handful of locations, normally just by registering through social media. You can also access the internet for free, albeit briefly, at Lima Airport. Again, be very careful with your laptop or smartphone of you’re using it in public.

Internet Providers in Peru

The number of available internet service providers (ISPs) has increased greatly in the last decade. Where once Claro and Telefónica (Movistar) were the dominant two for both telephone and internet services, they now have increasing competition from companies such as Bitel, Entel, Olo and DirecTV.

As a foreign tourist, signing a contract with an internet provider in Peru can be tricky, as you might need to have a Peruvian ID card. But shop around and you should be able to sign up for something using your passport.

Fixed and mobile broadband packages normally start at around S/ 100 per month (US$30).

A Note About Keyboard Layouts (and How to Type @ in Peru)

If you’re using a computer in an internet café or in your hostel/hotel, then you might be confronted with an unfamiliar keyboard layout. This is due to different layouts between Latin American, Spanish and standard English-language keyboards.

One of the most common problems is figuring out how to type the ‘at’ sign — @ — known as arroba in Spanish. If you find that Shift+@ isn’t working, you can always copy and paste the @ symbol, but that gets annoying after a while. Alternatively, try one of the following:

  • Hold down the Alt key and type 64
  • Hold down Control+Alt+@ (you’ll probably find @ on either the Q or 2 key)