Mazatlán telcom, cell / mobile and data plan service providers
Free WiFi Hotspots | Cell Phones, Mobile Service, Data Plans
Land Line Internet and Telephone Providers | Public Telephones
Using the telephone and connecting to the internet can sometimes be a bit challenging for tourists and other visitors to some parts of Mexico.
Luckily, Mazatlan has a competitive telephone and internet service provider market, and most telcom services in Mazatlan are at least acceptable -- some actually good.
We begin with internet access in Mazatlan. Further down the page you will find information about telephone services and your choice of cellular or land-line phone service providers.
Internet access in Mazatlan Mexico can be obtained in four ways: from internet cafés and free wireless hotspots; from a number of service providers via wireless technology; from Megacable via cable modem internet connection; and from from Telmex / Prodigy via conventional land lines.
For many tourists and other short-term visitors it will not be neccessary to purchase internet access: there are a number of free internet access options in Mazatlan Mexico.
To begin with, many of Mazatlan's hotels -- including many inexpensive hotels in Mazatlan -- have free unsecured WiFi that is either in-room or in a public part of the hotel, such as the lobby, restaurant, or bar. In addition to free wifi, many Mazatlan hotels have one or more public computers for those not traveling with a laptop, wifi-capable smart phone or pad device.
It is also worth noting that many public spaces in Mazatlan are covered by one or more unsecured WiFi signals that eminate from surrounding businesses.
The Plaza Machado -- the heart of the Centro Historico -- was an early example of a public space that had multiple unsecured WiFi signals coming from private businesses at most times.
As with any unsecured wifi signal -- just like in the United States, Canada or Europe -- users should exercise caution and, ideally, use a VPN.
Most cellular telephone services in Mazatlan are obtained from one of four major mobile service providers: Telcel, Iusacell, Movistar, and Nextel.
While Iusacell, Movistar and Nextel attempt to compete with Telcel -- and are doing a better job in recent years -- there is a bottom line here:
Telcel is the former monoply service provider, owns the vast majority of the physical infrastructure that supports mobile telephony and data transmission, and has substantially better coverage outside major metropolitan areas (like when you visit one of our Sinaloa Day Trip pueblos...).
Carlos Slim didn't become the richest man in the world as the result of luck, and users should be aware that going opting to use providers other than Telcel for mobile anything has potentially serious drawbacks both in terms of coverage and call quality.
Telcel cellular telephone service in Mazatlan
As in the United States or Canada, Telcel offers a bewildering array of cellullar / mobile telephone service packages and options. Most involve monthly billing and are not a viable option for most short term or seasonal visitors to Mazatlan Mexico.
Telcel does, however, offer pre-paid cellular / mobile plans that are very much worth consideration.
Pre-paid Telcel cellular / mobile service is through their "Amigo" plans, which can be obtained in two ways: buy buying a cell phone with sim card from Telcel, or by simply buying a sim card from Telcel to use in your unlocked 850 / 1900 GSM phone.
• When you buy a low-end mobile phone from Telcel, the phone you get is basic, but usually a brand name you recognize. It will be locked to Telcel, but if you're clever it is possible that you will be able to unlock it and use the phone as a spare back home...
While the per-minute telephone rate in Mazatlan will be higher than Americans and Canadians are used to, Telcel has made the entry-cost for a phone astoundingly low -- under $20 USD at 2015 exchange rates!
A measure of how much Telcel wants your business: some low-end Telcel cell phones come with more pre-paid mobile minutes than the cost of the phone!
• If you have an unlocked phone from the United States, Canada, Europe or Asia, you may only need a Telcel sim card. The SIM card will provide you with a local (669 area code) Mazatlan phone number.
These regular (non-LTE) cards are full-size, not mini-sims. They are also astoundingly inexpensive: roughly $2 USD! These $2 USD Telcel sim cards do, however, require a roughly $3.25 USD initial minute purchase to function, so you're in for over 5 bucks...
To use these sim cards your phone must accept 850 / 1900 GMS signals.
Whether you buy a phone with sim card or just a sim card, Telcel sim cards can be programmed to speak to you in English.
Telcel pre-paid telephones and pre-paid sim cards can be purchased in a very wide variety of locations in Mazatlan, including OXXO convenience stores and many major retailers, such as Walmart.
Additional minutes for your Telcel, Megacable or Nextel pre-paid cell phone can be purchased at any OXXO convenience store in Mazatlan -- and for any amount between 20 pesos and 500 pesos.
Telcel offers substantial bonus minutes if you purchase larger numbers of mobile minutes:
20 pesos to 99 pesos: you get the mobile minutes you paid for...
100 pesos = 120 pesos mobile minutes credit (20% bonus)...
200 pesos = 260 pesos mobile minutes credit (30% bonus)...
500 pesos = 900 pesos mobile minutes credit (80% bonus)...
Telcel Amigo Express SIM cards expire after six months if you haven't added any additional minutes.
Iusacell cellular telephone service in Mazatlan
Iusacell is one of Mexico's larger wireless telecommunications providers. It offers national voice and mobile data coverage that supposedly reaches over 75% of Mexico's population, but has a small single-digit market share.
Iusacell operates both GSM and CDMA networks. The majority of the phones Iusacell sells in Mexico are GSM, and most people believe that their CDMA network is primarily maintained to serve roamers from the United States with Verizon and Sprint CDMA phones.
Iusacell was aquired by ATT in January, 2015, and is being merged with Nextel (see below).
As with Telcel, you can buy an inexpensive cell phone from Iusacell, or just buy a sim card to use in your unlocked GSM phone.
Iusacell has relatively few offices compared to Telcel, but has established a relationship with Elektra -- a large national Mexican department store chain -- and many Elektra stores provide sales and technical service on Iusacell mobile phones.
The Iusacell prepaid celluar service plans offer the same conveniences as Telcel, such as the ability to recharge your phone's mobile minutes at OXXO convenience stores and other retailers.
Movistar cellular telephone service in Mazatlan
Movistar is a large cellular / mobile phone service provider in Mexico, with national coverage.
Movistar operates on GSM frequencies -- some believe that their network is almost as good as Telcel -- and has a fairly good reputation as a cellular / mobile service provider in Mazatlan.
As with Telcel, you can buy an inexpensive cell phone from Movistar, or just buy a sim card to use in your unlocked GSM phone.
Movistar has relatively few offices compared to Telcel, but the Movistar prepaid mobile service plans offer the same conveniences as Telcel, such as the ability to recharge your phone's cellular minutes at OXXO convenience stores and other retailers.
Nextel cellular telephone service in Mazatlan
Nextel offers a variety of cellular / mobile service plans in Mazatlan -- including prepaid plans -- and attempts to compete head-to-head with Telcel service.
Nextel was aquired by ATT in November, 2014, and is being merged with Iusacell (see above).
The Nextel prepaid cellular service plans offer the same conveniences as Telcel, such as the ability to recharge your phone's mobile minutes at OXXO convenience stores and other retailers.
Land line and wireless fixed-location internet access and telephone services are provided by Axtel, Megacable and Telmex.
Axtel wireless residential internet access in Mazatlan
Axtel is a newer telephone and internet service provider in Mazatlan Mexico. Far smaller than Telmex, Axtel is known for superior customer service.
Axtel provides high speed internet access via fixed point wireless connection (a dish on your roof), and offers a number of bandwidth packages.
Axtel bundles internet access with telephone service -- you get a local 669 number.
All of Axtel's attractive telcom packages include unlimited free calling within Mexico and others -- only slightly more expensive -- unlimited free calling to United States or Canadian phone numbers as well.
Megacable cable modem internet access in Mazatlan
Megacable is the largest cable television provider in Mexico. Megacable in Mazatlan offers high-speed internet access through its cable pipelines.
As with Telmex Prodigy Infinitum, several bandwidth packages are offered. As in the United States or Canada, you can't simply get internet cable: you have to have at least the basic television package as well. Pricing is in the general range of DSL service in the United States or Canada.
Many people report that Megacable's internet service is poor, with very inconsistent actual connection speeds being the most common complaint.
Telmex land phone line internet access in Mazatlan
Telmex is the former monopoly land line service provider in Mexico, and still provides the vast majority of telephone land lines in Mexico.
Telmex internet access is through a service named Prodigy Infinitum, and can be purchased with a variety of bandwidth packages. Telmex bundles internet access with telephone service -- you get a local 669 number.
Basic Prodigy Infinitum land line internet access is priced in the general range as broadband service in the United States or Canada, but with somewhat slower connections than Americans and Canadians are used to.
There are public telephones everywhere in Mazatlan.
These phones take either coins or phone cards that can be purchased at any convenience store, such as an OXXO.
Local call from public telephones in Mazatlan are inexpensive -- as little as 3p per call, time unlimited.
Long distance (within Mexico) and international calls can be made from these Mazatlan public telephones but the rates -- like virtually all long-distance telcom services in Mexico -- are rather high compared to what an American or Canadian is used to.
Despite the relative lack of utility of public telephones in Mazatlan for international calls, we are perplexed that more Mazatlan tourist information doesn't emphasise their utility for local calls in Mazatlan Mexico.
There has also been a re-birth of private telephone booths -- Casetas Telefonica -- in many Mexican cities, including Mazatlan.
In elclipse as newer forms of wireless phone service proliferated, private telephone booths have made a comeback in the form of independent providers such as Casefon who place booths within air conditioned OXXO's (a big plus on hot days!).
These private phone booths offer worldwide calling at rates ranging from 1 peso per minute for local calls to 12 pesos per minute to countries outside Mexico other than the United States.