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USING CELLULAR IN MEXICO
( Celular en México )

Mexico Carriers Using US Phones in Mexico Making Wireless Calls in Mexico
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Mexican Cellular Carriers:

AT&T Discounts AT&T
is presented here as a Mexican carrier due to their major acquisitions of 2 Mexico carriers, Iusacell and Nextel of Mexico. AT&T will combine these networks and offer a formidable product for both Mexican and US customers. They are expected to upgrade both networks to 4G LTE. For now, US customers should wait to see what offers will be coming, including from the AT&T-owned, Cricket Wireless. We expect the Roaming US customer will benefit significantly with their own AT&T phone in the near future. This may have major consequences in the Mexico wireless market.

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 agreed to acquire Nextel of Mexico, which, if combined with the Iusacell network, will provide an excellent choice for Mexico wireless service. 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
Movistar offers prepaid options and their GSM network is a very close #2 in coverage. 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. most recently, calls to the US were about $1.25 for the whole 15 minute period. 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. Calls to 611, and to check your balance, involve a charge.

Movistar Coverage Map


NEXTEL of MEXICO
Nextel has agreed to be acquired by AT&T. They use a mixture of technologies that will change if the AT&T acquisition is approved, which may occur quite quickly. 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. 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. Nextel is currently in bankruptcy so we expect no improvements until AT&T becomes the new owner. At that time, this network will be combined with Iusacell and upgraded to 4G LTE.

Nextel Coverage Map


TELCEL
TelCel currently offers the most 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. 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. TelCel is owned by the same company that owns TracFone in the US. The future of TelCel is uncertain because they need to sell some of their assets 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. At last report you could also choose 3 "Free" numbers within Mexico that you will be able to call Free for the first 5 minutes as well as Unlimited Text Messages to those numbers. Incoming calls are usually Free on all calls.


Our TelCel refills didn't "roll over". When you add a new prepaid card 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




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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