Cell / Mobile phones
It seems like everyone has a cell phone (celular) in Ecuador, even in rural areas. I’m always amazed when I see people who do very badly-paid, unsalaried jobs pulling out their flashy flip phone. Cell phones are not cheap – you either have to be on an expensive contract or pay a high fee up front for pay as you go. Therefore it might be worth bringing your phone with you (get it unlocked first). There are 3 networks; Porta, Movistar and Alegro. Reception for all three is patchy. Call costs are coming down a bit but are still high, especially to call other networks, so you often see people carrying 2 or 3 phones.
The domestic telephone service was controlled by a couple of notoriously corrupt state companies. Now it is just one, CNT, though I’m not sure how much else has changed. They still cut you off if you don’t pay your bill on time. There’s no second warning so don’t lose the bill or forget. It’s much cheaper to call landlines and the reception is fairly reliable across the country.
Broadband internet is available almost everywhere although it is not very reliable outside the main urban areas. It’s not that expensive to get a basic connection in your house and you can also find many internet cafés and wi-fi zones in malls and some hostels. ( If you set up your laptop in a mall check that no-one follows you when you leave).