The telephone system in Colombia is modern and works well for both domestic and international calls. Cell (mobile) phone coverage is extensive and inexpensive.
Many Colombian landlines are barred from making calls to cell phones.
|Landline from cell (mobile) phone||03 + area code + 7-digit number|
|Colombian landline from abroad||57 + area code + 7-digit number|
|Colombian cell phone from abroad||57 + 10-digit number|
Cell (mobile) phone and mobile data coverage is excellent. Most unlocked cell phones will work with a local SIM card.
Colombians love their cell phones, and in urban areas almost everyone has at least one. The three major providers are Claro (www.claro.com.co), Movistar (www.movistar.co) and Tigo (www.tigo.com.co). Claro has the best nationwide coverage, though all networks now have competitive data and call packages and of the smaller providers, ETB is regarded as having the best internet speed. Cell phones are cheap, and many travelers end up purchasing one – a basic, no-frills handset will set you back around COP$130,000.
Alternatively you could bring your own cell phone from home and buy a Colombian SIM card, which usually costs between COP$2000 and COP$5000. You will need to take ID to buy a SIM from one of the phone companies; you can also buy them from third parties but eventually you'll need to register with the company or risk having your handset blocked.
Colombian cell phone companies do not charge you to receive calls, only to make them.
Public telephones exist in cities and large towns, but they are few and far between, and most are out of order. In their place you'll see shops, kiosks and street vendors selling 'minutos' or phone minutes on a bunch of mobile handsets. These vendors purchase prepaid minutes in bulk, and it is always cheaper to make calls with them than to use credit on your own handset. For this reason many Colombians use their handsets to receive calls only and use street vendors when they need to make calls. Rates oscillate between COP$150 and COP$400 a minute to call anywhere in the country.
Internet cafes almost always have a few cabinas (telephone booths) where you can make both local and international calls for a few hundred pesos a minute.