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)
Do you have any favorite cafes you work from un Tarapoto? I will be traveling there today and am looking for either a hostel with good WiFi or a good cafe to work from on Friday.
Thanks for the info! I had been debating where to go Iquitos / Chachapoyas and this article helped with my decision!
Hi Bronte. I live in Tarapoto and have good internet at home, so it’s been a long time since I’ve needed to go anywhere else to work. But I think Suchiche Cafe (about two blocks from the Plaza de Armas on block 2 of Jr. Lamas) is a popular spot for WiFi. There’s also Cafe Plaza on the main square, which has decent internet as far as I know. As long as you buy a coffee or something in either cafe, you should be able to sit there and work for a while. I can’t think of any hostels that I know have good internet. Let me know if you have any more questions. Thanks, Tony.
what mobile provider works best all over the country? I will be spending a month in a place near Yurimaguas, and it seems like the line is always bad.. Many thanks! Marie
Hi Marie. To be honest, I’m not sure which mobile provider is considered to have the best coverage nationwide. Claro and Movistar always claim to have the best, but I don’t which is actually better. I use Claro in Tarapoto and it works OK. But in Yurimaguas I don’t know, best to ask some locals if you have contacts there. Sorry, not much help! Thanks, Tony.
Cheers for this information – it’s a little old now, but I imagine it still holds pretty much true.
I’m going to be travelling up the river from Colombia (where I live) to Iquitos and Tarapoto, on my way to Lima and eventually Santiago and NZ (home).
As you mentioned, I’m an English teacher, so a good connection is vital for my classes (Hangouts, Zoom & Adobe Connect mainly).
I was planning on hanging out and working in Iquitos for a bit, but after reading this, maybe I should stay in Tarapoto instead?
Either way, I’ll be passing through – are you still there? – maybe we could catch up for a coffee?
I’d appreciate your advice anyway, cheers
Hi Ricky. I haven’t been back to Iquitos in about two years, but I think the internet there is still fairly bad. I’m pretty sure you’ll get a better connection in Tarapoto, although the speeds in hotels and cafes aren’t always great (much faster if you have your own connection). And yes, I’m still here. Feel free to send me a message when you come this way. Cheers, Tony.
Cheers Tony, will do mate – should be passing through there around the beginning of June.
Do you have any experience with home internet service in Chiclayo?
Hi Michael. No, not personally. I imagine the internet must be decent there, as it’s a major city on the coast. According to Movistar, there appears to be no fiber optic connection there yet (like there is here in Tarapoto) but there is an HFC connection with up to 200 Mbps: http://www.movistar.com.pe/hogar/internet/cobertura. Thanks, Tony.
Awesome! Thanks, Tony!
Hi! 🙂 I’m Ines. Thank you for this article! I’m in the process of becoming a digital nomad. I teach online and also have my own website. I really need fast reliable wifi (I would say minimum 10 mbps download)… I often go to the jungle in Peru too and was hoping you could tell me how fast is the internet at Tarapoto (considering how awful it is in Iquitos)? Cheers
Hi Ines. It depends what package you get in Tarapoto (but it will be better than in Iquitos, for sure). With Movistar, for example, you can get at least 20 Mbps, and I think up to 40 Mbps. I’ve got 12 and it’s fine for what I do (WordPress, uploading/downloading large images etc). If you’re in a hostel the internet might not be so good, but you can usually find a place to go where it’s quicker. Or, if you’re staying for longer, get your own connection. Cheers, Tony.
Thank You, Tony! 🙂