If you are planning to stay in the Dominican Republic for a while you will likely want to get your own internet service. While you will find internet cafes in almost every little town in the country, you will likely find the cafe to be small, crowded, noisy and everyone sharing an about 1-2 meg download speed. Probably fine if you are planning to pick up your mail, but not real good if you need to spend much time for work, Skype or even internet research.

Like in the States, you have two main options, wired or wireless (mobile data plan). I’ve not seen a cable service here offering internet, so likely if you plan on getting a wired service than it will be DSL. This is normally cheaper, and faster than wireless internet and also have the advantage of not having a download cap or limit. However this is only available if you live in the middle of one of the larger towns. If you have opted to stay out on the outskirts of town where it is quieter, you may not have this option.

The option I choose is a wireless data plan. This runs off the same cell towers as the cell phones do, so coverage is pretty good throughout the country. While there are a few wireless internet providers in the country, I choose Claro Mobile due to their greater coverage. I travel with my laptop and wireless modem throughout the country and I can work almost anywhere I want to go. You can expect good reception at most of the beach towns, large cities and even most of the small campo towns. Understanding the internet services that Claro offers can be a bit tricky and it doesn’t help that the sales people often don’t understand what they are offering. If you are planning to purchase Claro internet you might want to read my post on Understanding Claro Internet Services.

Wireless modem

Wireless Model

There are a few drawbacks though. First the price. It’s about $60 per month for a 3 gig limit on downloads and the price goes up as you increase the limit (I have 10 gig and pay $100 USD per month). The speed is “Up To” 3.5 meg, in reality I usually get 1-2 meg download, where there are problems it can drop dramatically (this happens pretty often). The limit is not a hard limit, once you reach the limit they lower your speed to 120kb for the rest of the month and it goes up again as it renews the next month, so you are never really cut off, that is still about 3x what you could expect from a good dialup connection.

You can plug the USB modem directly into your computer (any USB port but a high speed port works better). My house is sort of an internet cafe with my computer, my kids and any friends that happen to stop by so I needed to set up a wireless network. I opted for a Cradlepoint wireless router. This one is a little expensive, I paid almost $200 for it. There are cheaper ones out there, but I was moving here and I wanted to make sure it worked the first time. The Cradlepoint router has several different network inputs, of course a wan input, but also an expresscard and the one that was most important to me USB (in fact there are two). The Cadlepoint also has 4 lan connections if you don’t want to use the wireless for your network. The Cradlepoint works great, I plugged in the USB Modem from Claro, added a little information (username and pass) and it hooked into the wireless cell network and distributed out to my home network great (with security enabled).

Cradle Point Router

Cradle Point Router

While 2 meg download seems slow, we often have groups of people on my internet at the same time, our group is rather international, so we have have multiple skype sessions to the US, one to the UK and one to Poland all going at the same time with little or no problems.