Although the information contained on this page applies to COTAS, the Santa Cruz phone company, the process will be similar in other Bolivian cities. The cellphone companies are national so the process is the same for them throughout Bolivia.
Getting a phone line installed in your home or office in any city in Bolivia is similar to the process described below for Santa Cruz (as are the prices). The names of the phone companies change from city to city. Cellphone companies listed here are national companies and can be found in most major cities and larger towns and keep their same names.
GETTING YOUR PHONE CONNECTED
There is only one local phone company in Santa Cruz (COTAS) and it is a cooperative. You can set up your service ('servicio de telefonía local') in one of two ways: you can either purchase your own line and corresponding number (for about $1300 payable in one lump sum or monthly over several years) or you can rent your line ($20-$25 per month).
If you purchase your own line, once you have completed payments you will not have to pay for it ever again. You will pay only additional services you request (call forwarding, message center, etc.). You will also be free to sell your line to someone else (or leave it to an heir in your will) as you would any asset you own, or you can rent it to someone else for a monthly fee.
These are the requirements to purchase your line (PLAN SOCIO):
1) If you pay it cash in one lump sum, you pay only $1250 U.S. Dollars
2) If you pay it monthly, the total cost will be $1300 U.S. Dollars
3) If you choose the monthly payment plan, you must pay $150 cash initially and the remaining payments will be charged to your monthly phone bill at 12% interest (you’ll pay $25.80 month)
4) Either plan you choose, your monthly bill will include an additional charge of Bs. 50 for the use of the service. You get 60 calls free per month. After these 60 calls, you’ll be charged Bs 0.70cents per call
5) To set up your service, you’ll need to go personally to one of the COTAS offices and bring with you a copy of your I.D. (carnet or passport), a map showing the location of your home or office (you can draw one), a water or electricity invoice showing the exact location of your home or office (these contain the location in a code which COTAS uses to ensure the connection is done correctly)
6) If you are sending someone from your company to do this, they must take with them legal documents showing they represent you legally
7) You must have no pending (unpaid) invoice with COTAS from prior lines you’ve owned or rented
8) COTAS will give you a Directory and a phone (the actual apparatus)
If you choose to rent your line from COTAS, you pay your bill monthly, and when you don’t need the service any more you simply give 30 days written notice prior to returning it before you leave.
These are the requirements to rent your line from COTAS (PLAN USUARIO):
1) You pay Bs. 129 cash initially for the installation
2) You pay Bs. 100 per month for use of the service. You get 60 calls free per month. After these 60 calls, you’ll be charged Bs 0.70cents per call
3) To set up your service, you’ll need to go personally to one of the COTAS offices and bring with you
3a) a copy of your I.D. (carnet or passport)
3b) a map showing the location of your home or office (you can draw one)
3c) a water or electricity invoice showing the exact location of your home or office (these contain the location in a code which COTAS uses to ensure the connection is done correctly)
3d) a bank statement for the last three months on your account, plus you have to have a minimum balance of $200
4) If you are sending someone from your company to do this, they must take with them legal documents showing they represent you legally
5) You must have no pending (unpaid) invoice with COTAS from prior lines you’ve owned or rented
6) You must fill out a form authorizing them to automatically deduct your bill from your checking or savings account each month (or alternately, you can have them bill it to a credit card each month)
7) You don’t get a phone with this plan, you have to buy your own apparatus
COTAS also offers other basic services such long distance, internet hosting, Cable TV, and cellular service. Bills must be paid monthly and, as with water and electricity, you are responsible for calling the company once a month to ask how much you owe. COTAS does not send you a bill. Instead, billing for the previous month is available by the 3rd of each month, so at that time, you dial 103 from your phone, ask how much you ow, and then you must then go to the company offices or your bank or credit union to pay your bill.
There are two COTAS offices, the main office at the address shown to the right, and another one on Prolongación Aroma (which is not far from the Cristo and the Palacio de Justicia) which is called COTAS CABLE and basically is the cable TV office. However, you can also set up a phone and internet there. You CANNOT set up cable TV at the office on Calle Bolivia, however. (Just so you know).
FINDING PHONE NUMBERS
COTAS also prints out the yearly phone directory and yellow pages and distributes them as one of its basic services (SEARCH Páginas Amarillas at www.amarillas.bo) OR TRY IT NOW! Just enter the name of a person or company in Bolivia that you'd like to call in the Páginas Amarillas box below:
If you have ANY questions about how or where to make calls or pay for them, the COTAS 2008 phone book explains everything right in the front pages of the book, before it begins listing phone numbers (these are called the PAGINAS INFORMATIVAS)
YOO-HOO! A CITY MAP!
Page 6 contains Emergency Numbers (police, fire, ambulance, etc.)
Page 7 contains all the Service Numbers at COTAS (information, tech support, etc.)
Page 8 shows you how to dial national long distance
Page 9 shows you how to dial international long distance
Page 10 shows you all the international dialing codes for all countries.
Page 13 lists all the places you can pay your bill (banks, credit unions, grocery stores and the COTAS office locations throughout the entire DEPARTMENT of Santa Cruz, not just within the CITY of Santa Cruz)
Pages 20-29 list the locations of every single phone booth in the Dept. of Santa Cruz
The COTAS phone directory contains pages called the GUIA DE CALLES which is a complete city map divided into sections that fit into the directory. This section is found right at the beginning of the directory, right after the pages I described above. Yay!
PUBLIC PHONE BOOTHS
COTAS also operates city phone booths (some of which are pretty creative as you can see in the photo above). Some public phone booths accept coins, others cards, others both. Cards for specific money amounts may be purchased at any phone company or branch office, cellular phone company or branch office, and even from the candy ladies on street corners.
You will have long distance service ('servicio de telefonía de larga distancia') once you have set up your COTAS local phone service. To call long distance nationally, you dial 012 before dialing the number. To call long distance internationally you dial 0012 before dialing the number.
OTHER COMPANIES, CELLULAR PHONES, LONG DISTANCE CALLS
There are other companies that provide phone service, but they are only allowed to provide cellphone, long distance and
services. They are Entel (ENTELMÓVIL cellphones), Telecel (TIGO cellphones), Nuevatel (VIVA cellphones) and a few others. Again, as with all utilities you must call in each month to find out how much you owe, then pay at their offices or at your
Each company that offers long distance or cellular phone service is assigned a 2-digit code. Cotas is 12, Entel is 10, Nuevatel is 14, for example. Each time you are going to make a long distance call, you have to first dial the code of the long distance company you want to be charged by, for that call.
Our country code is 591 and each city has its own city code. La Paz is 2, Santa Cruz is 3, Cochabamba is 4, and so forth. Each household or business has a 7-digit phone number (which starts with the same number as the city code in which it is located). For example:
A La Paz number would look like: (591-2) 2ab-cdef.
A Santa Cruz number looks like: (591-3) 3ab-cdef.
A Cochabamba number looks like: (591-4) 4ab-cdef.
For local calls it is only necessary to dial the 7-digit phone number and not the preceding country and city codes. To call long distance from one department to another (national long distance) you dial 0, then the LONG DISTANCE COMPANY'S 2-DIGIT CODE, the city code, then the 7-digit number. For example to call La Paz using COTAS long distance, I would dial 012-2-244-4444.
To make an international call out, you have to dial '00' then the LONG DISTANCE COMPANY'S 2-DIGIT CODE, then the country code, city code and phone number of whomever you are calling. For example, let's say I'm going to use Entel to make my long distance call to the US. I would dial like this: 00-10-1-555-555-5555. (00 to dial international calls, 10 to be charged by Entel, 1 is the US country code, 555 is the area code, 555-5555 is the 7-digit phone number).
Nationwide, all cellphones have 8-digit phone numbers, beginning with the number 7. (The number 7 replaces any city code). For example, a cellphone number would look like this 7ab-cdefg. Locally, this is all you need to dial.
However if you are calling a Bolivian cellphone from overseas, you must dial the country code first (591)7ab-cdefg. You don't dial a city code because cellphones already have an eight digits. (Just think of the 7 as a city code for all the cellphones in the country).
So, let’s say for example that you are going to call a landline in Santa Cruz, Bolivia from the U.S. You would dial:
Now, let’s say for example that you are going to call a cellphone in Bolivia from the U.S. You would dial:
If you have any questions about anything, COTAS customer service can be reached simply by dialing 103 from anywhere. Information (if you’re looking for a number is 104. To find out how much you owe on your bill each month, dial 102. You can also refer to the COTAS 2008 (or future) directories, front pages, as indicated above.
MAY 2009: A word on Entel. The Bolivian government nationalized Entel but to date it continues to function without interruption and under the same name.
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