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USING CELLULAR IN MEXICO
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Mexican Cellular Carriers:

IUSACELL 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 coverage for those phones is somewhat better than CDMA phones. Their CDMA network is maintained for the small number of CDMA phone owners in Mexico and roamers from the US who can use their Verizon and Sprint phones. Iusacell has agreed to be acquired by AT&T which could change the Mexico wireless landscape considerably. We expect AT&T to make significant upgrades to the Iusacell network, hopefully to 4G LTE, and probably will be changing roaming agreements for AT&T (and Cricket) roamers from the US. For now, Iusacell has a few stores and kiosks and if you can get a deal on one of their prepaid phones, they offer more minutes for your money, but not really enough to make a difference. Over the years we have only found one Iusacell store, and only one kiosk, to make a purchase.
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 is very different from the old US version. Their 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. They have created a new, "Red" network which currently doesn't have as much coverage as their old iDEN network but it includes Broadband coverage in some areas. We expect the Red network will expand to serve their entire service area.
Nextel Coverage Map


TELCEL offers the best coverage in the country, and sells a nice 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. 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 online or at eBay, and use that phone on the TelCel network. 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.

There are several price benefits among TelCel's Amigo plans, including the same flat rate on calls to any other phone in Mexico or the US, excluding Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. You can also choose 3 "Free Numbers" within Mexico that will get you Free calls for the first 5 minutes as well as Unlimited Text Messages to those numbers. Incoming calls are usually free on all calls.


If you don't speak Spanish, it may be difficult to ask for the features you want, so get help with translation. If you can, ask as many questions at the TelCel retailer about what charges apply to your specific calls. 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 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




Using The MEXICO CELLULAR Web Site:

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 on what to use:
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