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Medellin Cell Phones
Medellin Colombia Cellular Service
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Yes! You will need a cellphone while visiting Medellin. It is almost a necessity! Plan to bring yours or rent one locally.
Medellin has what could be termed excellent cellular phone service. It is probably attributable to the fact it is in a valley, surrounded by mountains and the cellular providers can aim their antennas very easily. (The valley where Medellin is located has around 650 cell phone masts according to city authorities and more than 3,000 microwave sources including cell phone telephony according to the National Ministry of Communications.)
The largest providers with the best coverage are Tigo and Comcel. You will find their stores and kiosks in malls, supermarkets and even with individual street vendors. They also have many standalone stores dotting the community. Comcel offers all digital 3.5G cellular services.
There are many smaller companies that focus in individual communas but are in fact, mostly authorized re sellers of Comcel or Tigo services.
There is also an authorized Nextel office in Medellin.
If you have a tri or quad band "unlocked" cellular phone, you can purchase a local SIM chip, buy some prepaid minutes and have local Medellin cell phone service in a matter of minutes. Cost for the SIM chip is around 10,000 pesos. Cost for the prepaid minutes cards are in denominations of 5,000, 10,000, 15,000, 20,000, 25,000, 30,000, 50,000 and 100,000 pesos. (some have other variations but these are the most common). You can buy the chip on the street without hassle or go to a Comcel store, show a copy of your passport, get fingerprinted and have your card in about 15-20 minutes depending on how many customers they have.
Comcel and Tigo frequently run specials of 2 for 1 minutes; free Comcel to Comcel minutes, special text messaging promotions and others.
Minutes do have an expiration date on them. If you don't use them you loose them after 30- 90 days.
It is cheaper to call Comcel to Comcel than to call Comcel to another provider. You can call any other cellphone in the country without dialing a city code. There is an added charge by the local telephone company to call from a cell to a fixed line (Fijo). Dial 034 and the number to reach a land line.
It is very difficult to get a "postpago" monthly plan without established local credit or a Colombian with good credit to co sign on your behalf. If you are staying for a while (a year or more) you can get a prepaid monthly plan but must go to the Comcel office every month to pay it in advance. A bit of a pain but much less expensive than buying prepaid cards.
There are also "walking" pay by the minute cell phone service providers. You will see them all over town and signs in many small tiendas. You just walk up, use the phone (usually on a chain attached to the individual vendor) and pay for the minutes you used. It usually cost between 200 to 400 pesos per minute.
If you have a Tri or Quad Band unlocked GSM Cell phone, you can have a working cell phone number when you arrive in Medellin complete with credits to make local phone calls. Announce your arrival, confirm your hotel or tell that someone special you will be seeing them soon. Whatever your needs, having a number and minutes to palce calls immediately upon arrival will be worth its weight in
Most popular Medellin Cellular Providers
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Note: Do not take your I Phone or Android with you to Colombia. They are prime targets and you will not even know they are gone until it is too late. Take a crappy old GSM phone with you and if it gets stolen, no big loss.
Don't say we didn't warn you.