Inexpensive Internet access is widely available in Buenos Aires. Top-end hotels tend to have high-speed in-room data ports, while lower-budget establishments (including many hostels) have free Wi-Fi. Many hotels have a PC in the lobby for guests to use.
If you're traveling without a laptop, look for a ciber (Internet café) or locutorio (telephone and Internet center). It's hard to walk more than a block without coming across one. Expect to pay between 2 and 5 pesos per hour to surf the Web. Broadband connections are common.
Many bars and restaurants have free Wi-Fi—look out for stickers on their windows. In general, these are open networks and you don't need to ask for a password to use them. You can also find Wi-Fi in many hotel lobbies, libraries, business and event centers, some airports, and in public spaces—piggybacking is common practice.
The country code for Argentina is 54. To call landlines in Argentina from the United States, dial the international access code (011) followed by the country code (54), the two- to four-digit area code without the initial 0, then the six- to eight-digit phone number. For example, to call the Buenos Aires number (011) 4123-4567, you would dial 011-54-11-4123-4567.
Any number that is prefixed by a 15 is a cell-phone number. To call cell phones from the United States, dial the international access code (011) followed by the country code (54), Argentina's cell phone code (9), the area code without the initial 0, then the seven- or eight-digit cell phone number without the initial 15. For example, to call the Buenos Aires cell phone (011) 15 5123-4567, you would dial 011-54-9-11-5123-4567.
Calling Within Argentina
Argentina's phone service is run by the duopoly of Telecom and Telefónica. Telecom does the northern half of Argentina (including the northern half of the city of Buenos Aires) and Telefónica does the south. However, both companies operate public phones and phone centers, called locutorios or telecentros, throughout the city.
Service is generally efficient, and direct dialing—both long-distance and international—is universal. You can make local and long-distance calls from your hotel (usually with a surcharge) and from any public phone or locutorio. Public phones aren't particularly abundant, and are often broken. All accept coins; some have slots for phone cards.
Locutorios are useful if you need to make lots of calls or don't have coins on you. Ask the receptionist for una cabina (a booth), make as many local, long-distance, or international calls as you like (a small LCD display tracks how much you've spent), then pay as you leave. There's no charge if you don't get through.
All of Argentina's area codes are prefixed with a 0, which you need to include when dialing another area within Argentina. You don't need to dial the area code to call a local number. Confusingly, area codes and phone numbers don't all have the same number of digits. The area code for Buenos Aires is 011, and phone numbers have eight digits. Area codes for the rest of the country have three or four digits, and start with 02 (the southern provinces, including Buenos Aires province) or 03 (the northern provinces); phone numbers have six or seven digits.
For local directory assistance (in Spanish), dial 110.
Local calls cost 23¢ for two minutes at peak time (weekdays 8–8 and Saturday 8–1) or four minutes the rest of the time. Long-distance calls cost 57¢ per ficha (unit)—the farther the distance, the shorter each unit. For example, 57¢ lasts about two minutes to places less than 55 km (34 mi) away, but only half a minute to somewhere more than 250 km (155 mi) away.
To make international calls from Argentina, dial 00, then the country code, area code, and number. The country code for the United States is 1.
You can use prepaid calling cards (tarjetas prepagas) to make local and international calls from public phones, but not locutorios. All cards come with a scratch-off panel, which reveals a pin number. You dial a free access number, the pin number, and the number you wish to call.
Most kioscos and small supermarkets sell prepaid cards from different companies: specify it's for llamadas internacionales (international calls), and compare each card's per-minute rates to the country you want to call. Many cost as little as 9¢ per minute for calls to the United States.
Telecom and Telefónica also sell prepaid 5-, 10-, and 20-peso calling cards from kioscos and locutorios. They're called Tarjeta Países and GeoDestino, respectively. Calls to the United. States cost 19¢ per minute using both.
Calling card information
Telecom (800/888–0110. www.telecom.com.ar.)
Telefónica (800/333–4004. www.telefonica.com.ar.)
Mobile phones are immensely popular; all are GSM 850/1900 Mhz. If you have an unlocked dual-band GSM phone from North America and intend to call local numbers, it makes sense to buy a prepaid Argentinean SIM card on arrival—rates will be cheaper than using your U.S. network or renting a phone. Alternatively, you can buy a basic pay-as-you-go handset and SIM card for around 130 pesos.
All Argentine cell-phone numbers use a local area code, then the cell phone prefix (15), then a seven- or eight-digit number. To call a cell phone in the same area as you, dial 15 and the number. To call a cell phone in a different area, dial the area code including the initial 0, then 15, then the number.
Local charges vary depending on factors like the company and time of day, but most cost between 50¢ and 1.50 pesos per minute. Calls to phones from the same company as yours are usually cheaper.
There are three main mobile phone companies in Argentina: Movistar, owned by Telefónica, Claro, and Personal. Their prices are similar, but Claro is said to have better coverage, Movistar has the most users, and Personal is the least popular service, so cards can be harder to find. All three companies have offices and sales stands all over the country.
You only pay for outgoing calls, which cost between 25¢ and 1 peso a minute. You can buy a SIM card (tarjeta SIM) from any of the companies' outlets. Top up credit by purchasing pay-as-you-go cards (tarjetas de celular) at kioscos, locutorios, supermarkets, and gas stations, or by carga virtual (virtual top-ups) at locutorios, where sales clerks can add credit to your line directly.
You can rent a cell at the airport from Phonerental, which also delivers to hotels. A basic handset is free for the first week and 20 pesos weekly thereafter; outgoing local calls cost 72¢ per minute, but you pay 60¢ per minute to receive both local and international calls. For very short stays, however, renting a can be good value.
Cellular Abroad (800/287–5072. www.cellularabroad.com.)
Claro (800/1232-5276. www.claro.com.ar.)
Mobal (888/888–9162. www.mobalrental.com.)
Movistar (11/5321–1111. www.movistar.com.ar.)
Personal (800/444–0800. www.personal.com.ar.)
PlanetFone (888/988–4777. www.planetfone.com.)
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