Cellphone usage 101

Being excellent trip-planners, we preemptively paid AT&T $60 for 30 days of “International Calling”. Naively, we thought this would allow us to make phone calls and use data while in Ecuador.

Unfortunately, AT&T cell coverage is very spotty in Ecuador, and almost non-existent in the Galapagos.

To add to the difficulty, Ecuador has two different types of phone numbers. The Country Code for Ecuador is +593 which is the prefix you’d expect to dial before calling any number.
However, if you’re calling another mobile phone number, you don’t dial the +593, but rather use 0x and the last 7 digits you’re calling. e.g.: (0x) xxx-xxxx
A number in Quito likely starts with (09) whereas a number in Pichincha would begin with (02).

Here’s a handy reference chart:

Ecuador Country Code: +593
International Call Prefix: 00
Emergency Numbers: Emergency: 911, Fire Department: 102, Police: 101
Toll-Free Prefix: 1-800
International Access: 011

  • To call a local number from a landline, directly dial the seven digits of the subscriber (xxx-xxxx).
  • To make a national long-distance call, or from any mobile phone to a local or national number, dial (0x) xxx-xxxx (For example, to a number in Pichincha province, (02) 211-1111).
  • To call from outside the country, dial +593-a-xxx-xxxx (For example, to a number in Guayas province, +593-4-211-1111, or to a mobile phone, +593-99-811-1111)

We did notice however that there seem to be a plentiful amount of pay phones scattered around Ecuador. So it’s likely easier to forego paying AT&T an exorbitant amount of money and simply pay-as-you-go while you’re there.

During our entire 17 day trip, we successfully completed 2 phone calls and wasted well over an hour trying numerous times. Needless to say, we did not get our $60 worth from AT&T.

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