Cell Phone Information for La Ventana, Baja Sur, Spring 2015

Around Christmas 2014 Telcel installed a 3G system on the towers in Los Planes.  This makes 3G an option for voice and internet which was not available before.  Movistar has some limited availability at some of the higher elevations also but again the coverage comes from Los Planes and is not nearly as good as Telcel.

What do I need to get connected?

You will need an unlocked cell phone.  As of the spring of 2015, cell phone companies are required to unlock your phone with certain conditions.  Telcel uses GSM so T-Mobile and AT&T phones will work if unlocked.  Verizon sells most new phones unlocked but their older ones ran on CDMA only, which is not well supported in Baja.  If your cell phone provider will not unlock your phone, you are not out of luck.  There are people on eBay that will unlock a phone for around $35.  They will need the IMEI number and within 24 hours your phone is factory unlocked.  It is now legal for anyone to unlock their own phone through one of theses services.  This will not change your current plan in any way. 

How or where do I get a Sim Chip?

There are lots of places to get a Sim Chip but getting one directly from Telcel is probably the best because you want to choose the Amigo plan.  This plan has a number of advantages when buying minutes (which will be covered later).  The Telcel store in the Mega parking lot in La Paz seems to have some of the best technical people and is where I have gotten my Verizon iPhone 5 chipped.

What wil a Sim Chip cost?

The cost of the chip is just over a 100 pesos.  This translates to about $7.50 in US dollars.  That will change with the exchange rate.

What should I know about the process?

You stop at the front desk and tell them you want to buy a Sim.  They will ask you if the phone is unlocked.  If you say yes, they will assign you a number.  When your number comes up you will go to a counter.  You tell them that you want a Sim and they will ask again if the phone is unlocked.  They will want to test this so the attendent often takes the Sim out of their phone and puts it into your phone.  If it works they will ask you to pay at another counter and then come back with a receipt.  Make sure they know you want the Amigo plan.

Things to do before you leave the Telcel office.

They often test the phone with a voice call.  They often do not test data.  Open your email or some other program that uses data and make sure it works.  If it does not they will take it to a techinical person who may have to change some settings.

How do I put money on the account?

There are at least  4 ways to put money on the account.  You can put money on your account while you are still at the Telcel store.  You can sign up for a MiTelcel account where you enter your bank card.  This is probably the best solution as you get the most for your money and you do not have to go back to the Telcel store.  You can put money on at most any small food store in Mexico.  OXXO is one of the more common ones.  They ask for your phone number and you hand them the money.  If you are out of the country and do not want to give your bank card to Telcel, you can use Pinzoo.com.  They do not give you the full number of free Internet minutes so they are my last choice. 

How often do I need to add money to keep my phone number?

This is hard to answer.  In the past it was about 3 months but there is a new law that states that you should be able to keep the number for a year.  Using MiTelcel it is easy to add 50 pesos to the account every 2 or 3 months and this will keep your account active.

How much money should I add?

The Amigo plan has tiers and the best calling plan is a little less than 2 pesos per minute call to Canada or the States.  You get to that level by purchasing 200 pesos at a time.  Any less and you will not get the good rate.  Every time you buy 200 pesos worth of time, you get 100 pesos worth of free internet which is charged at a rate of 2 pesos per megabyte.  That translates into 50 megs of free data which is not a lot but it will do a fair amount of email. 

How do I purchase more Data?

Once you have money on your phone, you can purchase more data by texting a code to 5050.  The amounts and codes are listed below.  The best deal is alto30 which gets you 3GB for 499 pesos.  It lasts one month and any data that you do not use is lost.

High Usage Plan


Validity    MB / GB    Price     Code

1 hr.      100 MB$     12.00    alto1h

1 day      150 MB$   49.00      Alto1

2 days     300 MB$    79.00     alto2

7 days     1 GB$      199.00     alto7

15 days   1.5 GB$   299.00   alto15

30 days   3 GB$     499.00    alto30


Medium Usage Plan


Validity    MB / GB   Price       Code

1 hr.       30 MB     $9.00    medio1h

1 day     50 MB     $29.00   medio1

2 days   100 MB  $59.00   medio2

7 days   400 MB   $99.00    medio7

15 days  1 GB     $229.00  medio15

30 days  2 GB     $339.00  medio30


Low Usage Plan


Validity      MB/GB     Price     Code

1 Hr          10MB     $5.00      bajo1h

1Day         30MB      $19.00   bajo1

2Days       50MB      $39.00   bajo2

7Days       200MB     $59.00   bajo7

15Days     600MB  $199.00  bajo15

30Days     1GB       $299.00  bajo30

How do I know how much voice and data are left over?

In the past Telcel charged you to find out.  The new law made this a free request.  You dial       *133# and they will report as a message on your screen the amount of pesos on your account and the ending date.  They also give you your Regalo amount which is the free internet and SMS.  If you have purchased a data plan, they will show how much is left. 

Will LTE work?

This depends on your phone.  Telcel uses band 4 so you have to check to see if your phone supports it.  The Verison iPhone 5 does not support this band.

How do I connect my laptop or my tablet?

Telcel supports the hotspot feature on most phones.  You turn on the hotspot feature and then find it on the laptop or tablet WiFi page.  You will have to enter a code that is listed on the phone.  This allows up to 5 or so computers and tablets to be connected at one time.  You can purchase a data SIM for some tablets but putting more data onto the plan can be an issue.  A cell phone running a hotspot is much more vesitle. 



Verified SIM chip information

iPhone 3     Version 5

iPhone 4.    Version 5 cut down

iPhone 5.    Verizon 6.2 LTE