Using a local network like TelCel, Claro, or Movistar in Latin American countries will provide faster service and much lower bills. General speaking you can get a month of data and calls for under $20 including the purchase price of a SIM card.
A subscriber identity module (SIM) card is a smart card with identification information that connects a user to a particular mobile network. Be aware that locked phones can only accept SIM cards from a specific carrier, while unlocked phones can accept any carrier’s card.
I always purchase a SIM card when I visit a foreign country. However I don't buy the SIM card or service package at airports! The kiosk at the airport will charge you many times the going rate. Instead I visit an electronics store in the first town I visit. In Ecuador the initial purchase of a Claro SIM chip included three days of coverage and a couple gigabits of data. I immediately added a $15 paquete that added 30 days and 15 gb of data plus 250 minutes of calls.
Here's a cheat sheet to make it easier for you to get a SIM card:
"Necesito una nueva tarjeta SIM por favor."
You can visit almost any farmacia or small store to recharge your service. If in doubt look for the red Claro sign. You just ask and let them know which package you want. Such as $15 etc.
Here's a cheat sheet to make it easier for you to recharge your plan:
"Necesito recarga Claro para $15 por favor."
Considering the poor service offered by Verizon costs $10.00/day vs better service and speed with Claro is just $0.50/day it is an easy decision.
The whole process is easy and only took a few minutes and did not require a passport or any paperwork. I just paid $20. Smaller packages are available for those spending less time in the country. The process is basically the same in Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, and Guatemala. As a side note my Guatemala Claro package work just fine in Panama.
I primarily travel solo but you don't have to to enjoy this channel. Working as a river guide during summers in North America I don't earn a lot of money and live close to the federal poverty level. In spite of this I live a rich life on a frugal budget. If you would like to learn more about traveling in Latin America or maybe frugal travel tips visit Fast Fred Travels and if you would like to come rafting with me check out Fast Fred Rafts for details.