Having WiFi internet access is my lifeline. For the first weeks I was here in the casita I was ruminating about how I was going to write blog posts and publish photos without a computer connection. I could check my email and keep up with family and friends via iPhone but I got that sinking feeling I was going to use more than the 3G quota I had signed up for. And, you know what keyboarding is like on an iPhone! A week went by and no blogging.
Lots of information passes around here in Oaxaca by word of mouth from friends, acquaintances and friends of friends. Some stories are accurate … or not. As I was lamenting my lack of WiFi, I heard from a friend that someone in another rural section of the village had found a way to get WiFi by buying a Movistar plug-in wireless USB device. That sounded intriguing. I decided to investigate but I could not confirm a Movistar Oaxaca location.
My friend said she thought these folks went to a store near the baseball stadium on Niño Heroes, next to the new Volkswagen dealership. She said they had to bring their MacBook to get the installation done because it was complicated. Things happen here without addresses. Directions are to somewhere close to somewhere else. Thanks to trusty Teotitlan del Valle taxista Abraham who has a sixth sense, we found it immediately, only it wasn’t Movistar, it was Telcel!
- The entire transaction took me 20 minutes.
- The sales associate spoke English and was VERY friendly!
- I didn’t need my computer.
- I could handle payment with credit card and ID (Passport).
- The Internet Banda Ancha Movil device works off a cell phone signal and costs 519 pesos for a deposit.
- You get the deposit back when you no longer want the service and turn in the device.
- It comes with 1 GB of WiFi to use immediately until you register the device’s cell phone number and create an account with www.mitelcel.com The service stops when you use up the 1 GB and forces you to create an account.
- When you register as a new mitelcel customer and enter your cell phone number, a password comes into your Banda Ancha SMS as a text message. You enter that to create the account.
- You can add GB to the plan online and pay for it with a credit card when you run out. Or, you can add GB at any Telcel store. You can choose your level of service. High use is 30GB at about 400 pesos a month (about $36 USD).
- Any Telcel store can set you up with this. I’m told there are more Telcel towers with better service in Mexico than is available through Movistar. Quien sabe? Estoy muy contento.
How to use it? Plug it in to your USB port. A screen pops up. Press Conectar! Facile. You are on. This is probably the same in other parts of Mexico.
I’m lucky. The cell tower is in direct sight of our casita and I’m able to get a 5-bar connection. I do get bounced off from time to time, but this is a small inconvenience. With Skype calls the disconnect is more frequent, so we are using Skype without video. That’s just fine.