Cable TV and Internet Providers in Medellín

25
2014
Claro Store in Los Molinos mall
Claro Store in Los Molinos mall
Claro store in Los Molinos mall
Claro store in Los Molinos mall

There are two major TV and Internet providers in Medellín that offer triple play TV, Internet and phone services: Claro and UNE. For TV services you also have the option of DirecTV (plus Internet with DirecTV available in some metros in Colombia).

To sign up for triple play Internet, TV and phone services from Claro or UNE requires a cédula in my experience. Claro, UNE and DirecTV all have stores or booths set up in many of the malls in Medellín, where you can sign up for service.

In my first apartment in Colombia I had triple play service from UNE and in my current apartment I have triple play service from Claro.

Claro’s Triple Play Service

Claro, which is the local Colombian business of Mexico-based telecom provider América Móvil, is the largest telco in Colombia. Claro provides a popular triple play service in Colombia with Internet, TV and fixed-line telephone services.

Claro has a promotion currently running for triple play service for 119,000 pesos ($57) per month including VAT, which is good until the end of November, which includes:

  • 10 Mbps Internet
  • 92 regular TV channels + 50 channels of HD
  • Fixed line (fijo) telephone service with unlimited calls to fixed line phones throughout Colombia

Claro offers Internet services in seven different speeds, 1 Mbps, 3 Mbps, 5 Mbps, 10 Mbps, 20 Mbps, 50 Mbps and even 100 Mbps. 1 and 3 Mbps are only offered in Estrato 1 or 2 areas and Internet service is exempt from VAT in Estrata 1 and 2.

5 Mbps Internet speed by Claro is offered only in Estrato 1, 2, 3, 4. While 10 Mbps, 20 Mbps, 50 Mbps or 100 Mbps is offered in all estratos. Of course for higher speed Internet, the monthly cost is higher.

Claro also has additional TV channels available for additional costs:

  • 4 channels in Minipack HBO
  • 10 channels in Premium HBO
  • 8 channels in Premium Moviecity
  • 8 channels pay-per-view: 3 channels with movies and 5 adult channels

I currently have Claro’s basic Triple-Play Service with 10 Mbps Internet, TV and phone services and I am very happy with it. My Internet service with Claro has been more reliable than my Verizon FiOS service was in the United States and of course it is much less expensive.

I have only had one Claro outage in nearly three years. When I called Claro, they had an automated message saying that technicians were working to restore service in my area and that it would be restored by 7 p.m. (which it was).

Several TV channels available on Claro have news, programs and movies in English. I regularly watch several popular series from the United States in English including Blacklist, CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds and Law & Order Special Victims Unit.

UNE Booth in San Diego mall
UNE Booth in San Diego mall

UNE’s Triple Play Service

UNE is a Medellín-based telecom provider that recently merged with Millicom. UNE provides similar triple-play services to Claro, but with fewer Internet speed options (2 Mbps, 5 Mbps, 10 Mbps, 20 Mbps and 50 Mbps).

I am aware that UNE recently was running a promotion (until the end of September) where triple play service started at 99,000 pesos ($47) per month in estratos 1-4 or 115,000 pesos ($55) per month in Estratos 5 and 6, which included:

  • 5 Mbps Internet
  • Regular channels plus over 60 channels of HD
  • Fixed line (fijo) telephone service with unlimited calls to local fixed line phones

UNE also has additional TV channels available for additional costs, including:

  • 9 channels + 4 HD in FOX+ for 29,400 pesos per month
  • 4 channels + 1 HD in HBO Pack for 22,040 pesos per month
  • 10 channels + 7 HD in HBO Max for 29,400 pesos per month
  • 3 adult channels + 1 HD in HOTPACK for 29,400 pesos per month

UNE frequently runs promotions for its additional TV channel packages.

DirecTV Satellite Dish installation
DirecTV Satellite Dish installation

DirecTV Options

DirecTV offers bundled services that include satellite TV programming and high-speed Internet. DirecTV uses third-party Internet service providers in addition to its DirecTV satellite programming.

Unfortunately per their website, DirecTV doesn’t look to offer Internet services in Medellín, Bogotá or Cartagena yet but Internet is offered in several cities including Cali, Barranquilla and Santa Marta.

DirecTV offers both prepago (pay in advance) and pospago plans in Colombia.

DirecTV prepago in Colombia offers two primary packages:

  • Family – includes 102 channels for 39,000 pesos per month for 1 receiver or 49,000 pesos per month for two receivers.
  • Bronze – includes 111 channels for 59,900 pesos per month with two receivers.

DirecTV pospago in Colombia has several packages available:

  • Bronze – includes 111 channels with 3 HD and 2 or 4 Mbps Internet (where available)
  • Silver Max – includes 126 channels with 17 HD and 2, 4 or 6 Mbps Internet (where available)
  • Gold Max HD – includes 168 channels with 17 HD and 4 or 6 Mbps Internet (where available)
  • Platinum – includes 188 channels with 19 HD and 6 Mbps Internet (where available)

DirecTV also has several add-on packages, including:

  • NBA Pass with 2 channels for 85,000 pesos per month
  • HBO Max with 10 channels for 29,400 pesos per month
  • HBO Pack with 17 channels for 17,000 pesos per month
  • FOX+ with 8 channels for 29,400 pesos per month
  • De Pelicula FOX+ with 4 channels for 17,000 pesos per month
  • TV Globo from Brazil with 1 channel for 29,000 pesos per month
  • Zee TV from India with 1 channel for 29,000 pesos per month
  • NHK from Japan with 1 channel for 32,000 pesos per month
  • Several Adult packages for 24,000 to 35,000 pesos per month each

DirecTV additionally has several pay-per-view channels for movies and adult content.

The only drawback with DirecTV is the need to install a satellite dish that may not be possible in some locations.

The Bottom Line

With intense triple play competition between Claro and UNE in Medellín, both companies regularly have promotions for new customers, which help to keep prices for triple play services lower than in the States.

Both Claro and UNE service may not be available in all apartment buildings. In the first unfurnished apartment I rented only UNE was available. In my second and third apartments both Claro and UNE were available.

I don’t watch TV that much so Claro’s basic TV package is fine for me with several channels with English programs and the Spanish ones with subtitles in English help to me to learn Spanish. If you are looking for many channels, DirecTV looks to the have the widest selection of channels available.

More important for me is high-speed and reliable Internet and I have found that Claro is very reliable. I also use my fijo fixed-line telephone frequently to call for taxis and for home delivery (domicilio).

There are also many streaming TV options available like Apple TV, Netflix, and Amazon Prime that just requires a high-speed Internet connection and might meet your TV needs.

But some of these streaming options might require setting up a VPN to give you an IP address in the states to “tunnel” around censorship and blocked sites.

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25 COMMENTS

    • Yes, I have seen a few studies that have said the U.S. Triple-Play prices are among the highest in the world.

      I understand in some countries in Asia the prices are even less – I know someone in Seoul that told me he pays only about $35 per month for Triple Play with 100 Mbps Internet.

  1. Thanks for covering this. Triple-Play service is definitely much cheaper in Medellín than in the U.S. I wasn’t aware that you can get Internet speeds as fast as 100 Mbps in Medellín — good to know.

  2. I am surprised that Claro gets such an endorsement here. I have had nothing but trouble with them and know a lot of people with the same problem. Frequent, maddening outages and terrible customer service.

    • My experience with Claro is different. I have only experienced one Internet outage in nearly three years while living in two different barrios in Belén — Los Alpes and Loma de los Bernal. I averaged about 3 outages each year with my Verizon FiOS service in the U.S. so my Claro service here in Medellín has been more reliable than my Verizon FiOS service in the US. I know several other foreigners in Belén that also haven’t had problems with their Claro service. My UNE service when I had it several years ago in Estadio wasn’t as reliable as my Claro service has been in Belén.

      Plus customer service with Claro has been good in my experience for my two apartment installations – Claro showed up when scheduled and installations went smoothly. But I had an inside contact at Claro that was provided by my real estate agent.

      Which area of Medellín are you located where you have had outages with Claro? Perhaps this is specific to a particular area or building?

    • I had UNE for several years at my apartment, but when I returned in 2014, they’d switched the cable and internet (5mb) services to Claro and I feel like it’s been an improvement.

    • I, too, have had endless problems with Claro. Beginning with my prepaid service before I moved to Medellin, they often just kept any remaining funds that were prepaid.

      This may be normal here for prepaid cell service, but the last time I went to reactivate, I was still within the active period. I wanted to pay, but the agent assured my that I had no need to do so. The very next day, my service expired and I had to return. The same agent was working, he remembered me and told his supervisor that it was his mistake. She agreed, then went to her supervisor to get it turned back on. Her supervisor refused, so I went to Tigo to get a new prepaid line.

      Claro is the only cable provider to carry FoxNews, so I reluctantly went there for a triple play activation. Three agents responded within 10 minutes of my online inquiry, and the first one set me up. We made an appointment for the next Saturday to have everything installed. I sent a copy of my cédula extranjería, never received a confirmation, never received an answer to my phone or email inquiries.

      After losing an entire Saturday waiting for them to arrive, I went to the store at Centro Comercial Oviedo, where I received many apologies and restarted the process. Today I received a call to tell me that 20 megs is the max available in my building (It’s not), and that they needed a “color” copy of my C.E. instead of the black and white one I had sent. I eplained that I had been to the store and restarted the process, but the guy would not take no for an answer.

      Finally, after he just kept telling me to send the color copy of the C.E., I told him that I will be there for Tuesday’s appointment, and if they can’t install it as promised, I’ll simply cancel the whole thing and end my frustration with Claro. As I was telling him this, he hung up on me.

      I never lost my patience, was professional, clear and polite. Hanging up on someone is one of my biggest pet peeves. I am actually hoping that they fail to show up again on Tuesday, and I’ll find another method of getting my US channels. I can get internet and land line service elsewhere.

      Unless one has a specific reason to need Claro, I cannot endorse them. From my conversations with the locals, my position is affirmed more than not. They are the worst at customer service, IMHO, and I would avoid them at almost any cost. FoxNews has several programs that enjoy, so I decided to do what should have been easiest for me, but it is not playing out well at all.

      • Claro seems to have some problems dealing with foreigners and anyone speaking less than very fluent Spanish. I had an insider contact at Claro from my real estate agent and we put our triple-play service in my Colombian wife’s name and she made all the contacts with Claro and we never had problems with installs happening on schedule in two apartments and we also have experienced no problems with customer service.

        When we recently moved to a new apartment in Sabaneta I wanted to change the account to be in my name using my Cédula de Extranjería but ran into problems trying to do this so I just gave up and we ended up keeping the account in my Colombian wife’s name.

        I had countless reliability problems with UNE service in my first apartment so I’ll only use Claro.

  3. trying to locate a company that has no contract for month to month or minutes I need a mobil modem w/ 3G in medellin any suggestions .? uni -claro.?

    • I would recommend Claro as they are the largest telco in Colombia and have the best wireless coverage in most cities. I have a Claro USB 3G modem stick that has a prepaid plan. I have used it as a backup or a few times when traveling. Do a Google search for claro usb prepago. They have prepaid packages for different time periods ranging from 1 day to 30 days and you can recharge anywhere you can recharge a cell phone. The 30 day plan costs 41,000 pesos.

      • I am in Castropol and my service with UNE was cut off without notice apparently due to its sale to Tigo I think. Does anyone have any suggestions, and more importantly, does anyone know if this can be done over the internet and without going down to some office to sign up ? I am presently out of the country but do have my residency in Colombia. I can have someone else go down if necessary to sign up and this is the person that will be there to let in whoever comes to install.

    • I recommend Tigo. Having had Claro for years, I have found Tigo’s service to be much more reliable, plus I have 4G LTE at a lower price than I was paying for Claro.

      Be careful if you can’t renew your prepaid plan often. Minutes unused without a recharge will expire. I have lost more minutes and data using prepaid service than I have used.

      Tigo offers minutes that do not expire (but not data), so even though the price is higher for those minutes, it actually cost me less. Not to mention the number of times I have landed here to have no phone service with which to call my driver, girlfriend, etc.

    • In my experience to sign up they will want a copy of your cedula and see the original ID and have you sign a contract so unlikely to be able to do this online. Lines haven’t been long in my experience with Claro in the Los Molinos mall.

  4. Hi Jeff,
    I am returning to Medellin early November and am in the process of getting my visa. I am moving into a house I bought but am having problems getting internet since I do not have a cédula extranjería card. Do I need to have a visa before I can get a cédula extranjería? Is there any way I can get my cédula extranjería while I wait for my visa application to be processed? Thanks!

  5. Hi Jeff – Do you think this is this is our best bet in Guarne (about 3 miles from town) for high speed internet?

    “Colombia is a key market in extending our footprint across the Americas,” said Vinod Jain, vice president of Hughes. “HughesNet in Colombia will bring consumers and businesses choices of attractive service plans, offering download speeds up to 30 Mbps, enabling customers to do more online than ever before, including email, online shopping, downloading music and video, using social media and browsing the web.”