Back in 1997, accessing the Internet in Colombia was costly since one had to pay in U.S. dollars. Today, that is clearly not the case as millions of its citizens now use the internet. But how exactly did this technological revolution occur?

Introducing ADSL

The year 2001 was when telecom companies finally began investing in asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) technology to provide relatively cheaper internet access to Colombians. This meant having to compete with the well-established cable providers — but it was clear who was going to win the market.

Cities such as Medellin and Cali were serviced by a single ADSL telecom company, which meant that they garnered enough revenue to improve and expand their business. In fact, the partly government-owned Colombia-Telecom enjoyed its virtual monopoly in cities with a population of under a million.

Fast forward to 2005, and Colombia already had 345,000 broadband users. The next year, there were already 87 personal computers for every 1,000 citizens. And by 2009, the number of PCs in Colombia rose to around 263 per 1,000 people.

Mobile technology had also improved, with 3.8 million people having used mobile internet in 2009. This statistic wasn’t even part of the number of Colombian internet users, which totaled 17 million.

Accessing the Internet in Cyber Cafes

If you’re in Colombia, you can visit any of the cyber cafes prevalent in the major cities and even in small towns. These are places where you can rent a computer to access the internet. However, payment isn’t the only requirement as you may also have to present a Colombian ID.

In case you couldn’t spot an internet cafe, you can check for free wifi. Most cities have dedicated wifi areas. And if you availed of a broadband plan, you can actually use the wifi modem to access the ISP’s numerous wifi zones around the country.

Still, we highly advise you to protect your digital privacy — especially when you’re connecting to a public network. To be safe, look for a free VPN Colombia. There are many VPN services that offer at least a week of free access. This encrypts your browsing activities even when using in a public network.

All in all, internet access in Colombia has drastically improved over the years. Broadband plans here already reach a speed of 50MB. And while there are issues with the government allegedly silencing journalists online, you should be safe if you’re just traveling the country as a tourist.