If you are wondering why it takes me so long to write about daily life in Mexico, it’s because nothing can ever be completed in one day or one week. It sometimes takes a few weeks or even months to get a resolution on what we think would be a simple matter. The internet service is a perfect example of this.
When people ask, “What’s the best internet in Mexico?” I know they have no idea what to expect.
We were the same way. Spoiler Alert: The fiber optic company installed in your neighborhood.
Americans (and many other nationalities) are used to having choices when it comes to their internet service. And in some cities and neighborhoods, you might have a few internet services you could contrast and compare, but that’s not always the case.
We’ve had 4 different internet services in 3 years. Simply asking ”what internet companies are available?”, will not give you a clear answer to your needs. Realtors kind of gloss over this, and if you have only had fiber optics in your life, you might not be asking the right questions.
Bonus: Fiber optic internet companies offer total packages that include internet, cable TV and home phone line where you can call the USA and some other countries for free.
Types of Internet in Mexico
There are three different types of internet you can get for your home. One is fiber optics. This is the best option, and in our experience, the only option for almost stress-free internet. The second is satellite internet. The service craps out when a rainstorm comes through or the wind is a even little strong. The third is cell internet service. Honestly, don’t bother. You’ll go through your bandwidth in 3 days or less.
We went from IENTC satellite to Telmex fiber optics in our rental house. We were in hog heaven when we had fiber optic internet. Then we moved to our newly built house in a newer neighborhood. Our internet service could not be transferred because Telmex did not have lines installed in our new neighborhood. Another company, Megacable was installing fiber optics. We would just have to wait “2 more months”.
On Mexican Time
Time in Mexico is different than other parts of the world. Mexicans have this cultural thing where they don’t want to say “no” to you or disappoint you, so it’s easier just to lie and tell you what you want to hear. During our “2 more months” which lasted for eleven months, we bought cell service internet through Telcel.
The internet was only good enough for our phones, and if I posted one blog, we couldn’t use the internet for days afterwards. After the first month, I took the modem box back to the company, and with some help from my friend Alex, we told them it wasn’t working. They told us, “you didn’t use all your bandwidth and mega-whatcha-macallits last month”.
My answer: Because it isn’t working.”
We dealt it with the next 11 months, cursing at it, limiting our time on it, increasing our monthly cell service to be able to research the internet on a smaller screen. Meanwhile, Megacable kept installing internet lines to cover the complete neighborhood. When they were “ready”, we quickly signed the contract. Their promise was that their internet, cable and phone service would be installed within the next week.
Our next move was a HUGE mistake: We cancelled the cell service internet.
Guess what? Megacable did not install the next week. We called the sales agent, and he said, “oh no, our installation time is within two weeks.”
How Long Can You Live Without Internet?
The second week was running out of days and we still did not have Megacable installed. Ten days without internet is torture. We were taking our computers down to the gym just to get a little work done. On that tenth day, I saw a Megacable car parked at our neighbors’ house. I quickly wrote a note and ran over there hoping the technician could come to our house after he finished with our neighbors.
When I got there, our neighbor was on the phone with Megacable arguing about something. I found out that the company was “ready” to install the internet, but not the TV cable yet. Our neighbor did not want to pay full price for half of the service he ordered. After 10 days without internet, we didn’t care. The technician came over, installed the internet, and we were lovey-dovey to each other once more.
Fast forward two months later of calling three times a week to the various phone numbers (some worked, some didn’t) and we still don’t have cable. Luckily, we have not cancelled Sky TV yet. I finally went down to the office during COVID, and after a very long discussion with multiple people, paid for just the internet and corrected everything on our account. It didn’t matter that my contract had my name, number, address and email correct. Some idiot did not copy the information correctly into the system. I even scheduled an installation for the TV cable the next day. Guess what didn’t happen?
Turns out that Megacable didn’t order enough cable boxes, so they are on back order. But I had to find that out through our neighborhood Whatsapp group, not from the woman at the Megacable office.
So even though we only have half of the service we ordered, if I wait until it’s complete, it might be another year that goes by.
6 Mistakes You Should Avoid:
Mexico is a beautiful country, and the people (minus customer service) are absolutely wonderful. But when you live here, you are not on vacation. There will be days when you have to deal with the mundane details of just “living”. We’ve learned a few lessons the hard way, so here are our nuggets of wisdom to make your internet search a little less of a headache.
1- Make sure fiber optic internet is installed in your neighborhood.
When you are looking for a house with a realtor, just asking the question “Are there internet providers installed in the neighborhood?” is not specific enough. A realtor will just say yes and move on to show you the closet space. You can get cell internet (horrible) or satellite service (less horrible, but still not great) anywhere. If you video conference for work or stream movies and sports programs, you need fiber optics.
Here’s what you need to ask:
- What fiber optic internet company is installed in this neighborhood?
- Can you show me?
- Can we talk to a neighbor about the service?
This last question may seem intrusive, but you’ll be glad you got the real scoop from someone who lives there rather than from the person trying to sell you something.
Tip: If fiber optic internet is not installed in the neighborhood yet, but “it’s coming soon”, that could be up to 4 years down the road. Insist on a neighborhood with fiber optic internet.
2- Don’t cancel one internet before the other is installed.
HUGE Mistake. Any service that delivers either shows up a day, week or month later, or not at all. We were told the technicians would show up within 5 days. We had 3 more days on our old internet contract. We cancelled, and 10 days later after calling repeatly, I walked around the neighborhood and stole a Megacable technician from another house. You do what you have to do.
3- Service companies have the worst customer service. They may be polite but reaching them to take care of any issues is always a huge ordeal.
When I first enlisted my Spanish speaking friends to help us talk to the internet company, I though it was unusual for them to ask for the person’s name and phone number. I have since learned that this is a great backup plan. Let’s take Megacable for example: Our neighbor asked for the name and phone number of the salesperson who drew up the contract and the technician that came to our house. This came in handy since the two Customer Service numbers don’t work and redirect you to other numbers that sometimes work.
4- Don’t rely on someone to input your information correctly into the system.
Remember that game of telephone when you were a kid? Someone would whisper something to one person, then pass it on to another and then another. When the last person recited the secret, it’s always completely different than the original message. Somehow our name, address, phone number and email is always transferred from the contract into the system completely wrong. Contact customer service before you your first bill is due to make sure they have the correct information. Otherwise, they may shut off your internet without you knowing because they didn’t send the bill to the right email address.
5- When the technician does come to install the internet, sign up on the company’s website while they are there.
If you have problems signing up on the internet company’s website, the technician is there to help you or at least can reach a real person to help you. If the system has your name or email incorrect (happened twice to us), it’s nice to have someone there who can reach the company to check the info for you.
6- Manage Your Expectations
You have a choice of different internet speeds at different prices. Let’s say you had 50Mbps in the States. You can get there here, but if you do a speed test you might notice that you are only getting 20-30 Mbps on average. It’s rare you will get the total number of Mbps you paid for. If you need to use a VPN for business security or sports streaming, this will also lower your mbps significantly. If you need to work online, we recommend doubling your megas for the higher cost to make sure you get enough bandwidth. The extra cost will be worth it.
Tip: We use NordVPNfor sports streaming. It has worked with 70 mbps or higher. Get NordVPN here!
Lessons learned. Find out what internet companies have installed fiber optics in your neighborhood BEFORE you move in, and your transition to living in Mexico will be much easier.