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USING CELLULAR IN MEXICO
( Celular en México )

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Mexican Cellular Carriers:
Listed alphabetically

AT&T Discounts AT&T
is the newest Mexican carrier after their acquisition of 2 Mexico carriers, Iusacell and Nextel of Mexico. AT&T has combined these networks and offers a competitive product for both Mexican and US customers. They are upgrading both networks to 4G LTE. Mexico AT&T customers will have both roaming and calling benefits across the border, to and from the US, Mexico and Canada.  Expect significant competition and benefits for Mexican customers.

IUSACELL
is now owned by AT&T. Iusacell currently operates both GSM and CDMA networks that are not as expansive as the other carriers in Mexico. Most of the phones Iusacell sells are GSM and their CDMA network is maintained for the small number of CDMA phone owners in Mexico and roamers from the US who use Verizon and Sprint phones. AT&T ownership should mean significant changes including better Mexico roaming for US AT&T costumers, expansion of the network toward 4G LTE, and retirement of CDMA service. Also, AT&T has acquired Nextel of Mexico, which will be combined with the Iusacell network, and will provide an excellent choice for Mexico wireless service. Over time the AT&T brand will replace the Iusacell name.
Iusacell Coverage Map


MOVISTAR
offers prepaid options and their GSM network is almost as good as TelCel's. You can buy a Movistar SIM-only and use your own "Unlocked" GSM phone. Movistar retailers are hard to find, but refills are available at many convenience stores through the store's computer. We were able to renew our Pay-Per-Call plan ("Movistar Pro Llamada") which gives you at least 15 minutes of talk to anywhere for a flat fee, currently calls to the US are about $1.25. However, we cannot confirm that Pay-Per-Call is available to new customers. We have never been able to access any English-speaking assistance at Movistar, either on cellular, or at their national toll-free number. Like TelCel, Movistar calls to 611, and to check your balance, involve a charge.

Movistar Coverage Map


NEXTEL of MEXICO
has been acquired by AT&T. This Nextel uses a mixture of technologies that will change under AT&T ownership. Nextel's iDEN technology coverage is better within the interior of Mexico and not as extensive around the resorts, but it works very well within their service area. They don't offer much for the short-time visitor but have a big following among business people, especially for their Direct Connect Walkie-Talkie service.
AT&T ownership should mean significant changes including better Mexico roaming for US AT&T costumers and expansion of the network toward 4G LTE. AT&T has combined Nextel network with Iusacel and will provide an excellent choice for Mexico wireless service. Over time the AT&T brand will replace the Nextel name.
Nextel Coverage Map


TELCEL
currently offers the best coverage in the country, and sells a prepaid package, "Amigo", that includes phone, SIM ("chip") and a prepaid card. Some retailers offer just the SIM, some of which have minutes already loaded on them, which can be inserted into your own unlocked GSM phone. Some retailers charge an extra fee to help you get set up...it could be worth it. If your phone is not unlocked, your GSM carrier (AT&T, T-Mobile and others) may provide you with your unlock code. If not, or if you don't subscribe to those networks, you can buy an unlocked GSM phone just for use in Mexico.

The future of TelCel has a few clouds on the horizon as they will be required to sell a certain percentage of their network to comply with new government regulations. This may affect TelCel's coverage but we imagine they will only sell under favorable terms. Even though Telcel advertises themselves as "4G LTE," we could find nothing better than 3G.  They will upgrade to compete but we can't guess how soon.

To compete against the incoming AT&T plans, Telcel now offers roaming and calling in both the US and Mexico without extra charges. All incoming calls are usually free.


Also, our TelCel refills don't "roll over". Add a new prepaid card and you lose some or all of your previous minutes. TelCel refills are available at many retail outlets. A few still sell the refill cards, but most now take your number and enter your purchase in the computer, which is immediately credited to your phone. Calls to customer service (264) or to check your balance are charged against your minutes, but they usually add a few extra for this purpose.

Telcel also offers wireless service in the US including a Spanish language web site. Get Details on the America Movil Networks.
Telcel Mexico Coverage Maps



Unefon UNEFON
This carrier was part of the old Iusacel network which has been acquired by AT&T. It will survive as the prepaid version of the new AT&T product in Mexico and will eventually use the updated AT&T Mexico network which was created through the combination of the Iusacel and Nextel GSM networks.


More MEXICO CELLULAR Resources:

This is your guide to using cellular service in Mexico. We give a brief review of the wireless carriers in Mexico and their value to the long or short term visitor to Mexico. Our focus is on wireless information for English-speaking travelers, especially those who want to use their US-based wireless phone while visiting Mexico. We have sections on how to use your phone, how to get the cheapest service, what to avoid, and specific Recommendations:
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