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Chileans are generally savvy about the Internet, which is reflected by the number of Internet cafés around the country. Connection fees are about 1,000 to 2,000 pesos for an hour. Increasingly, hotels have wireless connections, and almost all have Ethernet ports or a computer where you can get online. In Santiago, several coffee shops, including Starbucks, offer free wireless for paying customers.
If you're planning to bring a laptop into the country, check the manual first to see if it requires a converter. Newer laptops will require only an adapter plug. Remember to ask about electrical surges before plugging in your computer.
Carrying a laptop computer could make you a target for thieves; conceal your laptop in a generic bag and keep it close to you at all times, especially on public transportation.
In Santiago there are plenty of Internet cafés; you're likely to find several around your hotel. Most larger hotels provide business services, but these can be expensive. Santiago also has plenty of free Wi-Fi hotspots. Look, for example, for the signposted areas in some of the main metro stations.
The good news is that you can now make a direct-dial telephone call from virtually any point on earth. The bad news? You can't always do so cheaply. Calling from a hotel is almost always the most expensive option; hotels usually add surcharges to calls, particularly international ones. Chile has many call centers, and you can also purchase calling cards at street kiosks. Mobile phones are usually cheaper than calling from your hotel. The country code for Chile is 56. When dialing a Chilean number from abroad, drop the initial 0 from the local area code. The area code is 2 for Santiago, 58 for Arica, 55 for Antofogasta and San Pedro de Atacama, 42 for Chillán, 57 for Iquique, 51 for La Serena, 65 for Puerto Montt, 61 for Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas, 45 for Temuco, 63 for Valdivia, and 32 for Valparaíso and Viña del Mar. Mobile phone numbers are preceded by the numbers 9, 8, 7, or 6 (sometimes you'll see them written as 09, 08, 07, or 06). Dial the "0" first if you're calling from a landline within Chile; otherwise drop it if you're calling from abroad or from another cell phone in Chile.
A 100-peso coin is required to make a local call in a public phone booth, or 200 pesos to dial a cell phone. It is increasingly difficult to find pay phones in Chile, since most people now use cell phones. Centros de llamadas (call centers), small phone shops with individual booths, are common and are priced fairly. Simply step into any available booth and dial the number. The charge will be displayed on a monitor near the phone.
You can reach directory assistance in Chile by calling 103. English-speaking operators are not available.
To call a landline from a cell phone, dial "0" and then the city code and number.
For national long-distance calls, you may need to dial a long-distance carrier code (try 123 or 133—two commonly used codes) then the area code and number.
The country code is 1 for the United States and Canada, 61 for Australia, 64 for New Zealand, and 44 for the United Kingdom. You must add a zero before these country codes when dialing from Chile, and may also be required to add an international service provider (or "carrier") code before the 0 (try commonly used codes 123 or 133). Using a Telefónica/Movistar phone (the top service provider in Chile), dial 800/207–300 to reach MCI international operator assistance.
If you plan to call abroad while in Chile, it's in your best interest to buy a local phone card (sold in kiosks and call centers). EntelTicket phone cards, for example, are widely available in different denominations.
If you have a multiband phone (some countries use frequencies other than those used in the United States), and your service provider uses the world-standard GSM network (as do T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon), you can probably use your phone abroad. Roaming fees can be steep, however, and overseas you normally pay the toll charges for incoming calls. It's almost always cheaper to send a text message than to make a call.
If you just want to make local calls, consider buying a new SIM card (note that your provider may have to unlock your phone for you to use a different SIM card) and a prepaid service plan in the destination. You'll then have a local number and can make and receive local calls at local rates. If your trip is extensive, you could also simply buy a new cell phone in your destination, as the initial cost will be offset over time. SIM cards and prepaid service plans can be purchased at offices of the major cell phone companies in Chile, like Entel and Movistar.
Cellular Abroad. Cellular Abroad rents and sells GSM phones and sells SIM cards that work in many countries. 800/287–5072. www.cellularabroad.com.
Mobal. Mobal rents mobiles and sells GSM phones (starting at US$29) that will operate in 140 countries. Per-call rates vary throughout the world. 888/888–9162. www.mobal.com.
Planet Fone. Planet Fone rents international cell phones, but the per-minute rates are expensive. 888/988–4777. www.planetfone.com.