Is there Internet on that River?
Imagine being in a thick green forest surrounded by wild lush vegetation, tall cliffs, and a raging river, and the only way in and out is via a river raft or hiking trail. You are surrounded by rushing rapids and the sound of the water splashing against the raft as the river swells and then levels out and becomes calm and sleepy. You hear the sounds of toucans, oropendolas, parakeets, and sea hawks soaring overhead. No, you are not in an Indiana Jones movie, but it’s a great departure from the claustrophobic bumper-to-bumper traffic on the expressway!
You had researched this area extensively and knew how remote and beautiful it was. You were looking forward to it and it is an exhilarating adventure beyond what you had imagined. Your significant other decides she’d rather hike in and is in awe over the amazing landscape and the wildlife she can see and hear. When you finally meet up at the lodge she tells you she received a message from your office before she started her trip and that you have the approval to work remotely from there for another month if you wish. It is like a dream come true except for one snag. There is no internet here and without access to the database, you can’t do your job.
Circumstances such as this are seldom anticipated but can be a grim reality when traveling in remote areas. One of these fascinating areas is the Pacuare River, home to the Rios Lodge. Previously known as Rios Tropicales, it was purchased in 2021 by a group of rafting enthusiasts including the co-founder Rafael “Rafa” Gallo’s son, Roberto Gallo. Their vision is to both continue, and expand on, the ecotourism and conservation legacy of Rios Tropicales and its co-founder. They purchased some additional land to make an eco tropical lodge and reserve of some 270 acres in total. This area is famous in the international rafting community for its wild surroundings and various classes of rafting appealing to everyone from families to extreme-adventure enthusiasts. Even if you are not into rafting, this place is magical and accommodations would be perfect for digital nomads except for one thing — there’s no internet! “There wasn’t even a cell phone signal,” says Arturo Oropeza, administrator, and owner of Ríos Lodge. “We’ve dealt with the ICE (Costa Rican Institute of Electricity), with Claro, and with American Data.” Unfortunately, none of them could deliver internet service, let alone superior internet to the area. It proved impossible to provide point-to-point internet such as DSL or Fiber Optic Internet Connectivity.
How could they attract and maintain local visitors and longer-term tourists without this essential technology? High-Throughput Satellite Broadband. “Satellite internet is an opportunity for the most disconnected students, communities, and rural areas to bridge the digital divide, as well as improve their economy by attracting digital nomads,” said Tim Foss, CEO of Itellum. And so the company stepped into action. The installation was uncomplicated and gave Rios Lodge 100 GB rural satellite internet in only three hours. Initially, the lodge was skeptical as they thought the signal would not be good on cloudy or rainy days. This was not the case, since Oropeza affirms that the signal is very stable and to their surprise, the Wifi signal reaches the main facility and its surroundings including the nearby river banks and waterfall!
This is the Best Satellite Broadband Possible. Itellum has made this a reality through its employment of the Jupiter2 satellite provided by HughesNet. Through the Ka band of the radio spectrum, Itellum is able to provide internet that can deliver high-quality videoconferences, voice calls, and even video streaming with Secure and Fast Satellite Services to this previously impenetrable area. Having secured the national concession for satellite internet services, Itellum is now poised to provide Costa Rica’s only High-Speed Satellite Internet to 97% of the country.
Digital nomads grew from 7.3 million in 2019 to nearly 11 million in 2020 in the US. It is estimated that some 17 million people aspire to be digital nomads and now Rios Lodge can attract that desirable demographic. A typical stay at their facility was an average of two days and can now expand exponentially. The lodge expects their clients to stay a week to two weeks now that they will have the ability to work there. This clearly gives them an opportunity to grow and makes their plans for expansion a reality. They have a project to increase the capacity of the lodge from the current, 40 guests to 120 guests. In the beginning, the lodge will have a system that enables their guests to purchase their connection according to their requirements, allowing the business to recoup their $ 1000 investment faster. Oropeza acknowledges that this is not an ideal situation but is a temporary measure and will help them to monitor usage and upgrade as needed.
This opens the door for rural businesses, including hotels, condominiums, bungalows, chalets, or houses for rent on platforms such as Airbnb, Booking, or Expedia, not just in this area but in others in the same situation. The ease of being able to receive reservations, process payments with debit or credit cards, communicate with emergency services, access internal management systems, or simply send and receive an email will become the norm.
Of course, this “digital dissemination” is not limited to tourism. Education, community services, tourism-related businesses, supply-chain logistics, and residential applications can benefit from Reliable Satellite Internet and Broadband for the first time in history. It is also important to note that Internet via Satellite can be installed in areas where there are currently other types of internet connections. Perhaps users are not satisfied with their current internet service providers or in some cases, it may be advantageous to have a backup service in case the main service in use fails. However once the user has contracted for Itellums service, a backup service will become superfluous.
The necessity for faster, better, stronger internet and support has never been so prevalent. Regardless of where you may be in Costa Rica, Itellum’s got you covered.