Mobile Internet in Guadalajara
February 27, 2010 9:34 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any experience with or recommendations for using mobile (wimax, 3G) internet for use with a laptop in Guadalajara?

I will, hopefully, be working remotely in Guadalajara Mexico this summer. I'm a professional web-doofus, so I'll need regular internet access to do my jorb. I don't want to have to hunt for wi-fi hotspots all day or bum internet access from my hosts.

Ideally I'd like to purchase a USB 3G or WiMax dongle and one month's worth of service so I could work wherever and not trouble anyone. Obviously I don't want to start a service contract, so a pay-as-you go plan would be the best option.

(I only speak enough Spanish to order a tequilla at a bar)
posted by device55 to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Best answer: Rates for prepaid data (Internet Amigo) via telcel 3G in MXP (cap for 30 days is 3gb, after which they knock you down to edge speeds):

USB modems and others (no prices listed).

General info page:

I think your best bet is to find a telcel store w/ english speaking staff. Shouldn't be hard in Guadalajara. At least you can go in with some idea what you will be paying.

The movistar offerings are unfortunately buried on a flash site. Is a bit cheaper, but telcel has 70% of the market here and it has been up and running with 3G longer than movistar.

Iusacell is a CDMA operator with prepaid 3g, similar pricing to telcel, but I don't know anyone who has used it and can't vouch for reliability.
posted by lovejones at 1:17 PM on February 27, 2010

I don't know what the demand for specific internet services is in Mrxico, but The Lake Chapala/Ajijic area near Guadalajara is the home mostly for Americanos. A search for "Lake Ajijic internet" brought up mosly real estate agents, but this one has some information (scroll way down.) THey also have an 800 number that you could use to get more info. I didn't check the other listed sites, but you could try the same search.
posted by path at 2:07 PM on February 27, 2010

Response by poster: I've heard of Lake Chapala - that's a good reference point to search from, since they're catering to the traveling guero.
posted by device55 at 2:52 PM on February 27, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks lovejones - I knew that Telcel was a major provider - but I had no idea what the market is like or if their service is good. Thanks for the recommendation.

I'm traveling with my wife who is quite fluent in Spanish, though not fluent in technowankery en Español. Between the two of us I think we can manage a Telcel store trip pretty well.
posted by device55 at 2:55 PM on February 27, 2010

Also note that registration is now mandatory for all Mexican cell phones. This means that you'll probably need to go to one of the Telcel Service Centres (i.e., not just a dealer) to register by providing your passport (you'll likely have to provide a copy you've made yourself of the ID page), letting them take your fingerprints (this is actually pretty common in Mexico) and the address of where you're staying. Alternatively, I guess you could ask a Mexican/resident friend to register it using their CURP (national ID number), though I suppose that's not strictly legal.
posted by bunyip at 4:42 PM on February 27, 2010

Response by poster: > So would that apply to mobile internet widgets as well?
posted by device55 at 5:46 PM on February 28, 2010

Best answer: I'm not sure whether the law explicitly covers registration for mobile internet widgety thingies, but it appears that it might be enforced as a side-effect of the Telcel Amigo setup.

This page
has a little more information about Internet Telcel Amigo. Under the Consideraciones del servicio section it states "Para la activación del servicio es necesario que tu línea se encuentre activa y con saldo vigente en la cuenta principal (Saldo Amigo).". That is, roughly: "To activate the [Internet Amigo] service your principal account must be active with a positive balance". The principal account in question here is your main Telcel Amigo account, which is Telcel's prepaid offering.

So my understanding is that you'd have to get a new Telcel Amigo account to get a SIM (I'm unsure as to whether you can get these outside the Amigo Kit deals which come with a cell-phone; the cheapest was around $300 pesos last time I looked and came with 100 pesos credit). Then, after charging it with sufficient credit (can be done by buying the prepaid cards, or by buying "Tiempo Aire" at a supermarket/dealer (cheaper, I think!)) you text the appropriate BATxx code to 5050 to activate the Internet Amigo packet, at which point you'll get a confirmation SMS sent back. And yes, to activate an Amigo Internet packet, or even to send that SMS, you'll need to activate the primary Amigo account, which will require going through that registration process.

Instead of doing the SMS thing, a service center (or possibly a dealer?) will be able to activate the Internet Amigo packet for you. It's entirely possible that the "active" requirement of the primary account might primarily speak to the state of the balance rather than it having been registered, in which case organising the Internet packet through a dealer might let you get by without registering. But there's a pretty good chance that it just wouldn't work, too, without being obvious as to why. I suppose you could always give it a go, though! Of course, if you'd like to use the plain Amigo account to make/receive local calls, etc, you'll definitely need to register it.

Also note that electronic gear in Mexico is typically considerably more expensive than in the US, so you might be better off buying a dongle/card in the US and then just chucking your Amigo SIM in it; I don't think there'd be an issue with this.

I should say that I've not actually used Internet Amigo (or, in fact, 3g) personally, just the plain Telcel Amigo offering, so I could be outrageously incorrect. But hopefully I'm not!
posted by bunyip at 9:44 PM on February 28, 2010

Sorry, to be clear, Telcel Amigo is the prepaid voice offering, as distinct to Internet Telcel Amigo (Internet Amigo/Amigo Internet, as I used interchangeable) which is like a feature on top of that.
posted by bunyip at 10:02 PM on February 28, 2010

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