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Mx

Basics Edit

Mexico has 3 mobile network operators:

  • Telcel (by América Móvil)
  • Movistar (by Telefónica)
  • AT&T Unidos Mexico (incl. Unefon)

MVNOs are starting up of which Virgin Mobile, Cierto, weex, Aló, Flash Mobile, Oui Movil, Maz Tiempo and QUBocel are shown in detail. MVNOs still only play a minor role in Mexico so far with only 1.2% of the market share in 2017 but are growing rapidly.

Mexico is Carlos Slim country. The telco tycoon has made his fortune here controlling the landline market with Telmex and the mobile market with América Móvil. His mobile provider is not called Claro like anywhere else, but Telcel in Mexico. It has a huge market share of more than 2/3 of the nation's subscribers.

2G and 3G are on 850 and 1900 MHz on all operators except AT&T that doesn't have 2G, while 4G/LTE has started with Telcel and AT&T mainly on 1700 MHz (AWS Band 4), Movistar on 1900 MHz (Band 2) AT&T has 3G and 4G only, both on 1700 MHz.

In 2016/7 both Movistar and AT&T signed roaming agreements with Telcel to alleviate their lower coverage. According to OpenSignal report 2017 ##################

In contrast to the US 82% of all mobile subscriptions in Mexico are prepaid. You can get a prepaid SIM card, which is called chip anywhere in Mexico, from the major operators and their outlets for less than $100 plus some credit on it. There is no need to show an ID or give any address, but to be safe, take it with you, when you buy the chip. Top-ups can be made anywhere by top-up cards or direct top-up giving the phone number (in Spanish! or write it down) at the checkout of supermarkets.

Be aware, that to reach a mobile phone from outside of Mexico a 1 must be added before the area code. So it is: +52 1 <area code> <phone number>. This is because mobile phones in Mexico share the same area codes with land line numbers and don't have separate area codes as other countries do.

Please be aware that prices quoted in '$' in this article are in Mexican Peso (MXN, MX$), not US$.

In 2015 AT&T started a price war in North American roaming by including the US and Canada at domestic rates. Now, all providers offer data, text and call roaming on most plans or packages in all of North America without surcharges. When going north it's now cheaper to keep your Mexican SIM card instead of buying a new one in the US or Canada.

Telcel Edit

Telcel logo

Telcel is still the top dog in the country (see above) with 73 million subscribers or a solid 65% market share in 2017. It's still seen a the dominant provider in the country.

Its prepaid line is called Amigo. It has the best coverage on 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE at the highest rates: coverage checker. 4G/LTE was available in 2017 on 75% of the population with an average download rate of 9 Mbps.

Availability Edit

SIM cards are can be bought from local Telcel dealers and outlets you'll find almost everywhere in the country or here for $149 with $50-75 credit, sometimes for $79 in promotions with less credit included. Triple-cut SIM cards are available.

At the airport of Mexico City there is an official Telecel store open from 9am-7pm. Otherwise, you can walk in one of the many Oxxo convevience stores in the country and buy a chip without any registration.

Recharges Edit

In Mexico you can recharge at the ubiquitous Oxxo stores throughout the country that all sell top-ups for cash only. You hand over your phone number to the cashier and it’s automatically added to your phone. Amounts of $10-500 are available, all top-ups of $100 have a validity of 60 days. Telcel sends a confirmation by SMS.

Top-ups can be done online on the Telcel website. The official Telcel site accepts Mexican debit/credit cards, some US credit cards, and PayPal (excluding AmEx card on PayPal). You may also use 3rd party agencies like recharge.com or others. Beware that there are scam sites and even established websites charge you about 10% commission. To check balance, type *133#.
Amigo logo

Prepaid plans Edit

Telcel totally renewed their prepaid plans called Amigo. They have now three base plans:

  • Amigo sin límite (= Amigo without limits): combo plan with set allowances for data, mins and SMS plus some social media valid all over in Mexico, US and Canada.
  • Amigo por segundo (= Amigo per second): plan with a lower default rate for data, calls and texts valid in Mexico, USA and Canada to be added by packages.
  • Amigo Óptimo plus sín fronteras (= Amigo ultimate plus without borders): plan with a higher default rate for data, calls and texts valid in Mexico, USA and Canada to be added by packages combined to a top-up bonus scheme that makes it cheaper, if you use it more.

You can change between plans by typing *264. First change is free, further changes are for a $ 29 fee. All three plans include calling, texting and surfing to as well as roaming in the USA and Canada at the domestic rate and some social media.

Amigo sin límite Edit

This plan has combo packages with set allowances that are not only valid in Mexico, but in the US and Canada too. They include data, unlimited calling in and between these countries and some social networks.

If you balance falls below $20, data are charged at $0.85 per MB in all three countries.

Packages will not auto-renew, but normally a top-up of the equivalent value directly translates into one of these packs. For additional data you can add regular data packages (see below at Data feature packages).

Recharge Validity Data WhatsApp FB, Twitter Activation
$ 20 1 day 30 MB 200 MB none SL20
$ 30 3 days 40 MB 300 MB none SL30
$ 50 7 days 100 MB 500 MB SL40
$ 80 15 days 200 MB 1 GB SL80
$ 100 21 days 300 MB 1 GB SL100
$ 150 28 days 600 MB 1.5 GB SL150
$ 200 33 days 1 GB 1.5 GB SL200
$ 300 40 days 1.5 GB 1.5 GB SL300
$ 500 45 days 2 GB 1.5 GB SL500

Facebook and Twitter data are included only in Mexico, WhatsApp is included in MX, US and CA, but not for VoIP calls. All packages include unlimited calls and SMS in/to/from Mexico, USA and Canada.

For activation or renewal text code to 5050 or type *133#. For one-time activation use code, for recurring activation add 'R' at the end of the code. To check remaining allowances and validity, type *135#.

Amigo por segundo Edit

All incoming calls in Mexico, the US and Canada are free. All calls and SMS into these countries cost the same domestic rate. Data is the same in Mexico, USA and Canada at $0.85 per MB as default rate. For better rates add data packages (see below) or check the Óptimo plan.

Amigo Óptimo Edit

This plan is similar to 'por segundo'. All rates are the same from, to and within Mexico, USA and Canada. But default rates are much higher like for data at $1.98 per MB. As a plus you can combine this (and no other) plan to a top-up bonus scheme. For top-ups extra credit is given:

  • $10:+$2, $20:+$4, $30:+$6, $50:+$10, $80:+$16, $100:+$50, $150:+$80, $200:+$200, $300:+$300, $500:+$500.

As the bonus credit is valid as long as the rest of the top-ups and can be used for all purposes, the Óptima plan gets cheaper when you top-up a high value and add data bundles.

Data feature packages Edit

For short-time use this plan can be added:

  • Internet por tiempo: 1 hour of unlimited data for $ 30. Activation: text 'ILIM30' to 5050 or type *133. Data is valid in Mexico only.

To all Amigo plans these data packages can be added:

Price Validity Data Social Media Activation
$ 5 1 day 10 MB (!) none Int5
$ 20 2 days 50 MB (!) 500 MB:

WhatsApp (only in MX)

Int20
$ 30 4 days 100 MB (!) Int30
$ 50 9 days 200 MB 1 GB:

WhatsApp

(MX, US, CA)

Facebook

(only in MX)

Twitter

(only in MX)

Int40
$ 100 23 days 500 MB Int100
$ 150 30 days 1 GB Int150
$ 200 30 days 1.5 GB Int200
$ 300 40 days 2 GB Int300
$ 500 50 days 4 GB Int500

(!) = Data packages are valid in Mexico only for packages $30 or less. Above they are valid in Mexico, as well as in the USA and Canada.

For activation text code to 5050 or type *133#. The activation code is for once-off purchases, for recurring packages add 'recurrente' to the code. To stop auto-renewal text 'BAJA RECURRENTE' to 5050.

International roaming Edit

Note that included roaming in the US and Canada is not for permanent use. It may be suspended when you use it for more than 29 days outside Mexico without going back and your foreign consumption exceeds domestic Mexican use.

Telcel offers these packages for roaming in their Claro networks in Latin America in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Rep., Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay:

  • 150 MB for 24 hours: $ 129, activation: DPR15
  • 200 MB for 30 days: $ 459, activation: DPR20
  • 1 GB for 30 days: $ 899, activation: DPR01

Their Latin American rates are not competitive compared with their North American rates. Activation is by text to 5050.

More info Edit

  • Tethering is available without extra charges
  • APN: internet.itelcel.com
  • Username: webgprs
  • Password: webgprs2002
  • Website (mostly in Spanish): http://www.telcel.com

Movistar Edit

Movistar-0

Movistar was the only real competitor of Telcel in Mexico until AT&T arrived. Although it does not have Telecel's coverage, it gives out data cheaper and suffers from less congestion, as it cares only for 22% of the market in 2017: 2G 3G coverage map 4G coverage map.

Movistar has expand its 4G/LTE network to 23 new markets and 500 rural communities, via the deployment of 1700 new VTS stations including Aguascalientes, Cancun, Cuernavaca, Merida, Torreon, Veracruz and Villahermosa. It is still no.2 in the country with a market share of 23%.

In 2016 Movistar signed a national roaming agreement with the leading provider Telcel in 2G/3G for voice, text and data. National roaming on Telcel started in April 2017 with Movistar having much better coverage in about 1,500 towns where Movistar has yet to roll out own infrastructure. But roaming excludes 4G/LTE and Movistar ends up with the slowest speeds of all providers according to network tests.

Availability Edit

The starter pack called chip prepago can be bought in any Movistar dealer in Mexico, with most airports having one shop locator or many other stores like Walmart. The prepaid SIM card costs $60, sometimes lower in promotions.

Top-ups can be made in a lot of stores: Recharges of $10-500 are available giving you 10 to 90 days of validity. Alternatively, you can try topping up online via a 3rd party recharge service.

Prepaid plan Edit

Their current prepaid plans are called:

  • Prepago Simple (Prepaid Simple)
  • Prepago Rete Sociales (Prepaid Social Networks)

The latter is a set of plans with higher allowances for social media, the first is the base plan to which internet packages can be added.

Data feature packs Edit

Default rate is $ 0.79 per MB. For Prepago Simple these data packs called Internet por tiempo (Internet by time) can be added:

Price Time Volume Social Media Activation
$ 10 1 day 30 MB 1 GB WA DIA
$ 20 2 days 60 MB 1 GB WA 2 dias
$ 29 3 days 100 MB 1 GB WA 3DIAS
$ 49 7 days 200 MB 1 GB WA, TW DIAS7
$ 99 15 days 600 MB 1 GB WA, TW, FB 15 dias
$ 149 30 days 1 GB 1 GB WA, TW, FB DIAS30
$ 249 30 days 2 GB 1 GB WA, TW, FB 3000 MB
Note that no calls or SMS are included and data is domestic in Mexico only. For activation type #100# or text the code to 100. Social media is WhatsApp (without VoIP), Twitter and Facebook.

On Prepago Rete Sociales you can add these regular combo packages:

Recharge Time Volume Social Media
$ 10 1 day $0.85/MB 300 MB WA
$ 20 1 day 30 MB 300 MB WA
$ 30 3 days 50 MB 300 MB WA
$ 40 5 days 80 MB 500 MB WA,TW,FB
$ 50 7 days 120 MB 1 GB WA, TW, FB
$ 80 15 days 250 MB 1 GB WA, TW, FB
$ 100 21 days 350 MB 1 GB WA, TW, FB
$ 150 28 days 600 MB 2 GB WA, TW, FB
$ 200 30 days 1 GB 2 GB WA, TW, FB
$ 250 33 days 1.2 GB 2 GB WA, TW, FB
$ 300 35 days 1.5 GB 2 GB WA, TW, FB

To activate simply reload the amount or dial *100, choose "navega en internet", pick the pack you want and confirm selection. They will confirm this purchase by a text message.

Social media includes Facebook (FB, without VoIP), Twitter (TW) and Whatsapp (WA, without VoIP).

All calls and texts to the US and Canada are included in the package. In packages of $100 or more roaming in the US and Canada is included for data, calls and texts. Overuse is at the default rate.

More infoEdit

AT&T Unidos Mexico (Iusacell) Edit

ATT-logo

AT&T, the telco giant from the US, bought both providers Iusacell and Nextel in 2015 and rebranded them. They have investe some billion $$ into improving their still rather limited network.

AT&T Unidos has closed down its 2G/GSM network in 2017. So you need a 3G or 4G-enabled device. 3G is on 850 and 1900 MHz, 4G/LTE is on 700, 850, 1900, 1700, 2100 and 2300 MHz with translates into bands 2, 4, 5, 12, 17, 29, 30, 40 and 66.

In 2017 they have covered the 2/3 of the population in 171 cities by 4G/LTE, and plan to cover 80% by 2018. They have only a 11% market share, but gained 1/3 of all users within the last year and own 42% of the national bandwidth in 2017: AT&T coverage maps.

In summer 2017 AT&T announced a national roaming agreement with dominant provider Telcel like Movistar has done before, but AT&T's agreement includes some 4G/LTE roaming too. This has expanded their coverage quite a lot:

Availability Edit

SIM cards when bringing your own device can be bought in many stores (locator###). In Elektra, Coppel, Famsa, Walmart and Bodega Aurrera stores they are often for free with a mandatory top-up, in other places up to $80 plus some credit.

Recently, they have introduced the SIM Plus plan for $800 or $1000 which only makes sense, if you want to stay with them for more than 4 months.

Aside from SIM Plus they basically offer two plans:

  • AT&T Prepago (AT&T Prepaid)
  • AT&T por segundo (AT&T per second)

The por segundo plan always stays on the default rate of $ 0.75 per MB without the chance to add packages. So the only viable plan for data is called AT&T Prepago compare with the similar Unefone Flex plan (below).

Recharges Edit

Reloads are available in denominations of $10, $20, $30, $50, $100, $150, $200, $300, $500 and $1,000 valid for 1-60 days depending on value. They are sold all over Mexico.

AT&T Prepago plan Edit

This the main prepaid plan called AT&T Prepago. Default data is at $0.75 per MB.. The different allowances depend on the top-up made every month:

Recharge Data Validity  Social Media Bonus
$ 10-30 $0.75/MB 1-3 days
$ 50 200 MB 7 days 200 MB WA $ 5
$ 100 300 MB 21 days 1 GB WA,FB,TW $ 15
$ 150 600 MB 28 days 1.5 GB

WA, FB, TW

$ 25
$ 200 1.2 GB 30 days $ 30
$ 300 2 GB unlimited WA,

FB, TW, IG, SC

$ 50
$ 500 3.5 GB $ 70

The included minutes, texts and data are valid in all of North America (Canada, the US and Mexico) without surcharges. Unlimited Whatsapp and Facebook doesn't include their VoIP functionality.

The bonus $ called Moneda can be used for all purposes. $1 bonus is equivalent to $0.20 credit on your account.

Nextel, Iusacell Edit

Nextel and Iusacell brands have been discontinued by AT&T in 2016/7.

International roaming Edit

AT&T offers roaming packages for some Latin American countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Rep. Dominicana, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad & Tobago and Uruguay valid for 30 days:

  • 60MB:$119, 100MB:$149, 250MB:$299, 500MB:$499, 1GB:$799

More info Edit

Unefon Edit

Unefon-0

Unefon merged with Iusacell in 2007, but kept its own brand. Back then, it was a CDMA-only operator, not compatible with GSM. In 2015 Nectel and Iusacell/Unefon and merged into AT&T. Unefon is kept as second brand for low-end prepaid users with a very similar portfolio to AT&T.

On October 3, 2016, AT&T Mexico shutdown their CDMA network in order to make way for LTE services. Today Unefon operates on AT&T's network in 3G and 4G/LTE. For all network information check AT&T above.

Availabilty Edit

The prepaid SIM is sold for $ 80 in their shops and Waltmart, Elektra, Coppel and others (store locator). It may be cheaper in promotion or more expensive with credit pre-loaded.

Recharges can be made in 400,000 stores in Mexico and the US (locator) from $10.

They offer three plans simliar to AT&T:

  • Unefon por segundo
  • Unefon Flex
  • Unefon Super Chip

Unefon por segundo stays on the default rate of $ 0.75 per MB and Unefon Super Chip makes only sense when you stay for 4 months or more. So the only viable short-time data plan is Unefone Flex which is quite similar to AT&T Prepago but cheaper if you use less social media.

Data feature packages Edit

Default rate on Unefon is $ 0.75 per MB. To the Flex plan these reloads can be added:

Recharge Data Validity Bonus
$ 10-20 $0.75/MB 1-2 days
$ 30 300 MB 3 days
$ 50 600 MB 7 days $ 5
$ 100 1.2 GB 21 days $ 15
$ 150 2 GB 28 days $ 25
$ 200 2.6 GB 30 days $ 30
$ 300 4 GB $ 50
$ 500 6.7 GB $ 70

Unlimited calls and texts to Mexico, the US and Canada are included. Data is cheaper than on AT&T Prepago, but social media is debited from your main data account. Bonus $ are called Unepesos and are credited $1 to $0.20 to your account.

More info Edit

Virgin Mobile Edit

Virgin France

Virgin Mobile started in 2014 as second MVNO in the country and has grown to its largest. It uses the network of Movistar in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE (coverage map).

Availability Edit

You can order their SIM card online to be sent to an Mexican address or buy it at their sales points (locator: select comprar mi chip). They are sold in three sizes:

  • 1.5 GB + 200 mins: $ 69
  • 3 GB + unlimited mins: $ 99
  • 5 GB + unlimited mins: $ 149

To activate, you need to register online or at the outlet and make a recharge.

You can top-up online by credit card $10-500 or at the outlets shown on the top-up site like Oxxo, 7-Eleven and many more starting at $20. Check balance by typing *188#.

Data feature packages Edit

You can add one of these packages:

  • $ 100: 500 MB + 2 GB for social media, 200 mins for 23 days
  • $ 150: 1 GB + 2 GB for social media, 200 mins for 30 days
  • $ 200: 2 GB + 2 GB for social media, 300 mins for 30 days
  • $ 300: 3 GB + 2 GB for social media, 400 mins for 30 days
  • $ 500: 4.5 GB + 3.5 GB for social media, 400 mins for 30 days

All included voice minutes are to Mexico, the US and Canada too, but no roaming included. 50 SMS are added to each pack. All data outside of these packages are charged at $1 per MB. Packages are activated online or through their app.

More info Edit

Cierto Edit

Cierto

Cierto by Ekofon is another MVNO that piggybacks on Movistar's 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE network. It started as first MVNO in the country in 2014 and offers reasonable rates for data.

Availability Edit

Their Superchip is sold from $20 with $10 credit preloaded. It's available online to be sent to an Mexican address or at their sales points (locator).

Top-ups can be made at 20,000 points like 7-Eleven or Walmart or any Movistar reload will do too.

Data feature packages Edit

Default rate is $ 0.85 per MB. They offer these packages for data:

  • $ 50: 300 MB for 30 days
  • $ 100: 700 MB for 30 days

These combo packs are offered with unlimited calls to Mexico, US and Canada and a data quota:

  • $ 50: 100 MB + 200 MB for WhatsApp for 12 days
  • $ 100: 360 MB + 1 GB for WA, FB, TW for 21 days
  • $ 150: 650 MB + 1 GB for WA, FB, TW for 30 days
  • $ 200: 1.3 GB + 1 GB for WA, FB, TW for 30 days

To activate bundles you need to log in your account or call *767. WhatsApp's VoIP is not included.

More info Edit

Aló Edit

Alo

Aló was the first viable MVNO (or rather subsidiary) on the network of Telcel in Mexico in 2015. Unfortunately, it still doesn't have a good data deal yet and doesn't offer 4G/LTE, and therefore can't be recommended so far.

Availability Edit

Their prepaid chip is sold for $29 in Telcel stores and many authorized dealers throughout the country. You can activate it by a top-up of $10 or more. Top-ups can be made in all 7-Eleven stores from $10 to $500 giving 10 to 60 days of validity. To check balance, dial *611.

Data rate Edit

While Aló copies the default rate of Telcel at $ 0.85 per MB, it doesn't offer any of their data packages. So all data will stay at the high default rate. That's why it can be recommended for data use up to now.

More info Edit

Maz Tiempo Edit

Maz tiempo

Movistar network , SIM $ 42 online and in few stores (locator). Recargas in Oxxo and others from $10.

0.85 per MB

############

QUBocel Edit

Qbocel

Movistar network

########################

weex Edit

Weex

weex is a new MVNO that has started in 2016 and piggybacks on the Movistar network in 2G, 3G and limited 4G/LTE. It's youth-oriented, but accessible to the general public.

All management like booking of packages can only be done through their app available for Android and iOS in Spanish. But they decided for whatever reason to geo-restrict distribution in Google and Apple Stores. As alternative to that, weex also offers maintenance of your connection via weex.mx/webapp , where you need to log in (directly or via facebook).

Availability Edit

You can purchase their SIM card for $50 at outlets of 7-Eleven, Extra and Circule K or for free online to be delivered to a Mexican address. Users had a hard time finding this SIM card in stores. Only realistic way to find one is to try by chance or to have it delivered to a Mexican address. Most stores carry only Telcel SIM cards.

You can top-up your SIM at every of the 40,000 Movistar recharge points in the country as Movistar.

Data feature packages Edit

Default rate outside of packages is $0.70 per MB. They have different packages:

  • for 7 days: 50MB:$15, 100MB:$20, 150MB:$25, 200MB:$29, 250MB:$32
  • for 15 days: 200MB:$48, 300MB:$58, 400MB:$62, 500MB:$66, 600MB:$68
  • for 30 days: 250MB:$55, 400MB:$75, 500MB:$80, 600MB:$92, 800MB:$97, 1GB:$99

Social media Edit

They also offer many different bundles to be used with special apps:

  • for Facebook, messaging, Match, Twitter, Email, YouTube, SnapChat, Spotify, Netflix, games, minutes, SMS and Instagram. For details check this list.

More info Edit

Flash Mobile Edit

Flash mobile

Flash Mobile started in 2016 on the network of Movistar in 2G, 3G and its limited 4G/LTE (for details check Movistar above).

Availability Edit

The SIM card is sold for $40 by some retailers and online. You can top-up from $100 by credit card online or go to any Oxxo kiosk, Walmart, Bodega Aurrera in the country.

Data feature packages Edit

Default rate is $0.69 per MB. They offer three monthly combo plans:

  • $ 150: 600 MB + 1.5 GB for social media
  • $ 200: 1.3 GB + 2 GB for social media
  • $ 300: 2 GB + 2 GB for social media

Social media includes Facebook, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Twitter. All combo packs include unlimited calling and texting to Mexico and the US.

You can add Waze use for $50 per month or one of their data add-ons:

  • 300 MB for 7 days: $ 50
  • 700 MB for 15 days: $ 100

Activate through *444#.

More info Edit

Oui Móvil Edit

Oui movil

Oui Móvil is a new MVNO that started in 2017 on the supreme network of Telcel in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE (for details check Telecel above). It's based on an agreement with the Elektra Group.

Availability Edit

That's why their SIM cards are exclusively sold in Elektra stores, one of Mexico's biggest retailers (store locator). They are free, but you need to activate one of their plans.

Recharges are by app with credit card or buying reloads in Elektra stores.

Data feature packages Edit

Data by default is $ 0.75 per MB. You can add these plans:

  • for 7 days: $ 50: 150 MB, $ 100: 500 MB, $ 150: 750 MB
  • for 14 days: $ 120: 1 GB, $ 200: 1.7 GB, $ 250: 2 GB
  • for 30 days: $ 200: 1.5 GB, $ 300: 2.2 GB

All plans include unlimited calls and SMS to Mexico and the US and free Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. You can also add these two data packages:

  • 500 MB: $ 100
  • 1 GB: $ 150

Activation is through their app or by calling *311.

More info Edit

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