Telmex, the telephone company of Mexico, was privatized by the government in 1990. Until then, the price and service of telephones were as tightly regulated as gasoline still is today through Pemex.
Telmex, which is owned by the world’s richest man -- Carlos Sim, (Yes, he has passed up Bill Gates and Warren Buffet) is perhaps a little less loved, respected, and trusted than Ma Bell.
Carretera #113 in Ajijic,
(376) 766-2131 or 2132
Open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The current cost for the installation of a new line ranges is about $100 US – down from $150 US about five years ago and $400 or more 20 years ago – when there was a line available. The good news is that most often your telephone line will be included in the inventory of the house you buy or rent. Don’t leave anything to chance – be sure to check the inventory and be sure it says, “Telephone line -- (376) 76X-XXXX.” If it just says “telephone” you may receive an antiquated telephone instrument and no line to plug it into.
If you need the phone company to run wires inside your home, there will be an additional charge. There is also an additional fee if you need a telephone instrument as well.
Special Promotions Save Big Bucks
Telmex runs frequent promotions these days on the cost of telephone service combined with high speed Prodigy service. Currently, you can sign on for 1 GB of download speed via Prodigy, have 100 local calls, 100 minutes of long distance service within Mexico and calls to the US and Canada for $2.39 pesos (about 20 cents) per minute. for $289 pesos per month.
If you sign on to have 2 GB of Prodigy download, you’ll get 200 local calls per month, unlimited long distance calls within Mexico and 100 minutes of long distance to the US or Canada (additional minutes across the border will be billed at about 10 cents per minute) for $499 pesos per month.
If you’re looking for the top of the line, consider the $999 peso (about $80 US) package. It features 3 GB download, unlimited calls locally, within Mexico and to the US! What a deal this is – it’s really quick and easy to run up more long distance calls than that – and still pay for monthly service, national calls and internet separately.
Most of these packages include call waiting, call forwarding and caller identification.
From late 1993 into 1995, Telmex crews were assisted by Florida Bell systems in installing fiber optic lines and systems at Lakeside capable of carrying the load from an infinite number of phones. The current occasional shortage of phones and delays in installation in specific neighborhoods is usually not due to a lack of lines, but caused by a shortage of switching equipment. There sometimes just isn't enough space in the switching boxes to provide the numbers needed to meet the increased demand for phones.
If you are purchasing a home without a phone line, go to the Telmex office ASAP to see if lines are available in your neighborhood. If so, buy your line immediately, even though you’ll have to pay the monthly bill even if you haven’t moved in.
Be Careful of “Putting the Phone to Sleep”
We’ve heard some horror stories of folks who left for the summer or an extended trip anytime of the year and opted for Telmex’s option to reduce the billing costs during their absence. Rather than being able to “put the phone on vacation” as you may have up north, here the option is called “putting the phone to sleep.” If you are thinking that sounds uncomfortably like euthanasia, you may be right. We’ve heard a series of sad stories from folks who tried to save a bit of money with this program. There are a number of steps which must be followed exactly – or the phone company ends up owning your line – with no prior notice or chance of recovery.
The current basic monthly telephone rate (without internet) is $189 pesos plus IVA (15% added value tax). This pays the rental on your line for a month, and includes 99 completed calls. These 99 calls include completed local and long distance calls (even when you reach an answering machine) – about three calls per day. Each call over the first 99 is billed at $1.48 pesos or about 15 cents, plus IVA, each.
You'll need to purchase a phone card at a grocery store, pharmacy or at Telmex to make a call from a Mexican payphone. The cards are available in $30, $50 or $100 peso increments.
Just outside of the Telmex building, there is a payment machine that allows you to pay your Telmex bill electronically—as long as you have the bill. If you prefer, with our without the current bill you can now use the drive-through window -- just give the attendant at the window from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. your phone number and he or she will tell you the amount to pay.
Of course you can also still walk into the building, and wait in line to pay if you prefer.
There is a grace period of about one week before your phone is disconnected. If your billing date has passed and your phone rings in the late afternoon or early evening and you hear only a short recorded message in Spanish, it probably is Telmex reminding you to pay the bill the next day to avoid disconnection. During the first couple weeks of the disconnect, calls can still be received, but when you attempt to place a call you will hear a recorded Spanish message telling you that the bill needs to be paid.
Paying Telmex bills from the United States—in dollars:
Telmex has designed a program to allow Mexican migrant workers in the US to pay phone bills for family members living in Mexico. This service may work well for gringos who divide their time between Mexico and their homes back north. If you are in the U.S., call (800) 365-8808 for more information about this service.
No matter what country you are in, click here to visit the Telmex website. When you reach the website, click first on “cambia pais” in the upper right hand corner of the page. This will then offer you the choice of 10 countries (and languages) including Estados Unidos de America – the Unites States of America. You can pay your bill, apply for a new phone line and accomplish a number of other errands from this site.