It’s fairly simple (and relatively cheap) to get online in Bogotá. First, you’ll get free Wi-Fi at El Dorado airport. Just enable your Wi-Fi connection, find the airport’s network, and follow the instructions. As far as I’m aware, there’s no time limit on this network, but be aware that the signal won’t be strong in every part of the building.
When you get to the city, there are a few options. First, if you have a U.S. cell-phone plan, chances are that you can get unlimited data in Colombia included within that plan. If you don’t, and you can’t get roaming, don’t despair. A fairly simple option would be to buy a SIM card and a prepaid data plan. You won’t need to give out any personal information or sign a contract; just buy the SIM and put some money in your prepaid plan (either at the shop where you got the card, online, or in most grocery stores).
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There are many cell phone companies that offer this service, like Uff!, Tigo, or Virgin Mobile Colombia, but the most ubiquitous is Móvil Éxito, since they are sold at all Éxito, Surtimax, and Carulla chain supermarkets (of which there are many in Bogotá). You can also buy a SIM card from most operators (others include Avantel, ETB and Movistar) in pretty much all supermarkets, any mall, or even in a few neighborhood grocery stores.
However, if you are looking for an instant fix, you can head right to the Claro stand on the second floor of the airport, where you can buy one of their SIM cards. Claro is the largest cell-phone company in the country and has the most coverage (which means it also has the worst customer service in the industry), so it could be a good idea to get it if you are planning on travelling around the country. In any case, if you want to try any of the other options, you can check this page for coverage maps from all cell phone companies.
A SIM card usually costs around 3,000 pesos (or about US$1), but many come packaged with some additional value that goes towards your plan, so you end up paying around 15,000 pesos (US$5). A good data plan somewhere between 2.5 and 3GB, valid for 30 days, is around 35,000 pesos (US$12.5).
However, take care selecting a plan. Colombia does not have net neutrality, so many phone companies offer cheap internet plans that can only access certain apps (a data plan in which only Whatsapp, the most popular texting app in the country, works is quite common), or certain websites, such as Spotify, Facebook, or Twitter. So be sure to get a generic data plan (usually just labeled “MBs” or “GBs”), and not one of the tailored ones. You can also buy plans that come with voice calls and data, or just voice calls, if that is what you need.
You can buy these plans right when you buy your SIM card, usually with the cashier, or you can go online and follow the instructions. Some of these companies won’t accept international cards online. Still, you can put money into your phone by heading to a Baloto. These were originally booths selling lottery tickets, spread all over the city (in supermarkets, neighborhood stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and more), that people now use to pay most of their bills. You can find one near you on this page. When you have money in your prepaid plan, you can go online or text a specific number (which changes from company to company, check the instructions that come with the SIM card) to buy a data plan.
If your plan runs out, you can always recharge it at any of the above places. Just say that you are looking for a recarga, and how much money would you like to put in. They will ask you for the phone number associated with your new SIM card (which is usually in the packaging), and that’s it.
Most restaurants and cafés will have Wi-Fi, and the city has set up a few free Wi-Fi zones, which you can find here. If you are lost and really need to get online, just look for the nearest Juan Valdez café. They are pretty much everywhere, and you can get the Wi-Fi password if you buy something.
If any your devices break, you can head to Unilago on Carrera 15 and Calle 78, where there are booths manned by tech specialists. Just beware that you might be subject to the “Gringo tax,” by which you’ll get charged more just for being foreign, and not haggling over the price.