Tag Archives | internet

My Favorite VPN Access – On Sale!

Living in Buenos Aires, there is a huge need to have a VPN setup. (VPN stands for virtual private network and protects that data you send to the Internet while also routing your computer traffic through one of their servers to mask your identity and location.)

Private Internet Access VPNI’ve tried a ton of different services and finally found the one that I was most happy with – Private Internet Access. Their setup is super simple, they give you tons of locations to route through and the price is great.

Even better, they are currently running a sale with 20% off in support of the Reset the Net Campaign.

New subscribers can now get their monthly plan for $5.45 per month or their one-year plan for $31.95 ($2.66/month). Features include:

  • Secure VPN Account
  • Encrypted WiFi
  • P2P and VoIP Support
  • PPTP, OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec
  • Multiple VPN Gateways
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • SOCKS5 Proxy Included
  • No traffic logs
  • Instant Setup

So, what have I used a VPN for?

  • Watching US-only content or using Netflix for other countries
  • When Gmail was down for Argentina, I used a VPN connection to access US servers
  • Shopping! I was tired of shopping on US sites and having orders declined because they detected I was in Argentina. (Try going to kohls.com from Argentina – the site just gives an error message.)
  • Streaming from Pandora
  • Testing Google ads for clients from different geographic locations (the ads that appear vary widely as does search placement)
  • Signing up for different promotions/accounts with different usernames and emails in different locations
  • Anywhere I use public WiFi!

The best thing about Private Internet Access is that it’s super simple. Just look at how easy it is to select the location you want to appear from:

VPN From Argentina


It doesn’t get much simpler (and safer) than this.


Spotify Launches In Argentina

Spotify is, without a doubt, my favorite online music service. I have been a premium subscriber ever since it launched in the US two years ago and use it every single day. It’s completely replaced iTunes, which I rarely use anymore.

Spotify Available In ArgentinaIf you’re not familiar with Spotify, it’s an online music streaming service for your desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet with over 20 million songs available – all 100% legal. It’s really a lot more than just streaming though as they also have radio stations and numerous apps that allow you to find and follow your favorite musical genres and artists. You can also follow your favorite artists as well as your friend’s musical tastes through social media and sharing on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and email.

The big news is that, as of today, Spotify is available in Argentina! This means that you can now sign up and listen in Buenos Aires without having to use a US credit card or proxy server.

Spotify Argentina Plans and PricingWhat’s even more exciting is that the Argentine version of Spotify is less than half the price of the US version. Of course, they both have the same free ad-sponsored version, but Spotify Argentina also has a ARS $18/month unlimited version that is ad-free (not available in the US) and an ARS $36/month premium version which gives you access to their mobile app and offline syncing. The premium version is $9.99/month in the US, so this is a substantial savings. I’m planning on switching over to an Argentine account from my US one as soon as my current plan expires.

You can head over to the Spotify website now and download the app for your desktop or laptop for free and start listening right away. If you sign up for premium, you can download their iPhone or Android app as well.

While I absolutely love the service, I only have two minor complaints. The first is that you can only listen to it on one device at a time, so if I’m in my office listening, I can get kicked off by my 3-year old who wants to hear nursery rhymes on the iPad. The second is that they do not have separate profiles, so by sharing the account with my daughter I get recommendations to listen to both the latest Cold War Kids single and Dora the Explorer. It would be great to have a family plan option.

So, are you planning on signing up? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to check out the Share My Playlists site too. It’s a great way to discover new music.


Fibertel Set to Launch Wideband High Speed Internet

Fibertel is getting ready to launch Wideband, their new high-speed Internet service in Buenos Aires.

From several posts on Twitter, it appears that several customers have been given the opportunity to sign up for the service before it has been released to the general public. The new Wideband connection will offer 30 Mbps for $300 pesos per month. (Currently their fastest consumer offering is 6 Mbps for $109 pesos for the first 6 months, $140 for the next 6 months and then $179 pesos per month after that.) Unfortunately, it also looks like it will have a 250GB cap on data transfers per month.

Still, this will be a welcome improvement in Internet speed for Argentina and offer speeds that had not previously been available. You can sign up to be notified when the service launches on their website.


Expat Tech: Increasing Slow Network Speed and Performance in Buenos Aires

After recently arriving back to Buenos Aires from a trip to the States, I was immediately struck (again) by just how much slower the Internet connections are in Argentina. My connection in the States is cheaper and blows away the speeds that I can get here.

This lack of speed has been especially apparent when I am on my Vonage phone. People often complain about the call being choppy and I am often forced to stop all my downloading or even turn off my laptop wireless in order to have a clear call. This never happened in the States.

The real problem is that truly high-speed Internet connections are not as cheaply available in Buenos Aires as they are in the States.  Our current package from Fibertel, provides 3 Mbps download and only 512 Kbps upload speed for about $85 pesos per month. As you go above this 3 Mbps consumer limit, prices rise rapidly.  Want 5 Mbps download and 512 Kbps upload? $300 pesos per month.  10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload? $500 pesos per month.  15 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload? $600 pesos per month.  And that is pretty much the limit to the speed.  By comparison, in the States I have 20 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload for U$S 49.95/month ($196 pesos).

Since my work revolves around being online and having high speed access is critical for a lot of things that I do, I finally had enough and decided to take as many steps as possible to increase my network performance while still keeping my costs low. I started researching anything I could do to squeeze as much performance as possible out of the connections here.  Hopefully these tips will help you as well.

1. Check your Internet speed.

The first thing you should do is check your Internet speed using the tests at SpeedTest.net. To get the most accurate results, choose a server near you and make sure you have closed any programs that may be using the Internet.  While you will never get the actual speeds that you are paying for, your results should be pretty close.  Run the test several times, using different servers to be sure.  If the speeds are not close, call your ISP and ask them about the difference.

2. Change the wireless channel that your router broadcasts on.

By default, most routers broadcast on Channel 6 and since you’re in Buenos Aires, you probably have a lot of neighbors whose routers are on the same channel as yours.  As more routers broadcast on the same channel as yours, your router’s performance greatly decreases.

You can use the WiFi Stumbler web tool to determine what wireless networks are around you and what channels they broadcast on. Then, simply login to your router and change the wireless broadcast to one of the less used channels. (Please note that Channels 1, 6 and 11 are the best options as these channels do not overlap with the others.)  You can find some more detailed instructions on this at How-To Geek.

I changed my router from Channel 6, which had thirteen other routers, to Channel 11, which only had two other routers.  This gave me a slightly better signal and better speeds.

3. Update Your Router to DD-WRT or Tomato.

One of the best performance options you can make is to find out of your wireless router supports running an open-source router firmware like DD-WRT or Tomato.  As Lifehacker points out, this “turns your $60 router into a $600 router.”  If your router supports this (check your router here), install it and you’ll have a lot of new options. Luckily, my router supported it.

4. Increase the signal strength of your wireless signal.

Once I upgraded the router to the DD-WRT firmware, I immediately increased the signal strength of my wireless signal.  This increased the range and connectivity of my wireless network. It now hit all areas of my apartment with no problems.

You could also try creating your own WiFi extender with some tinfoil, but that was a bit overkill for my needs.

5. Set up QoS settings on your router.

Another feature of the DD-WRT software is the ability to set up Quality of Service (QoS). This feature allows you to prioritize traffic going through the router, which means that I can set my Vonage service to high priority and my BitTorrent downloads and other traffic to low priority.

To do this, I simply followed the instructions here and set it for my own Vonage router.  Now, my voice calls have priority over other traffic and they are clear without me having to turn off my laptop wireless.

6. Change your DNS server settings to use Google’s DNS rather than the default Internet provider’s settings.

We had previously covered switching to Google DNS as a way of increasing Internet performance, but wanted to point it out again here.  I’ve been using it for months and it has been great.

7. Add a second Internet connection.

While the options above may help improve performance, none of them actually increase the speed of your Internet connection.  Buying a second Internet connection will do that, as well as give you additional reliability.

While looking at the prices of Internet connections, I realized that I can get two 3 Mbps connections, one from Fibertel and one from Arnet, for less than the cost of the 5 Mbps connection alone from either of them. So, when I was in the States, I picked up a Cisco RV042 dual-wan router.  What this router does is allow you to bond two different Internet connections into one, thus sharing the bandwidth and also making sure that you have Internet access even if one of the connections goes down.

I just ordered the second Internet connection this week, so as soon as I have it all up and running, I’ll be sure to update the blog with my results.

Hope this helps and please let me know if you have any other tips to add.