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There are 3 ways to get internet access for Baja rentals.
Of all these ways, the most common here in Baja, and probably the least expensive from a long-term renter’s point of view, is to get internet access from the local telephone company, Telnor.
The other two ways of getting internet access are via satellite internet, and by plugging a small antenna from the local cell phone company into your laptop.
There are also 3 ways to get phone service. Of all these ways, VOIP is the most common for those renting in Baja but still need to keep in contact with the USA, Canada, and beyond.
The other two types of phone service in Baja is getting a land line via the local phone company, Telnor, or by cell phone either with a local providing cell phone company such as Telcel or Nextel, or a US cell phone provider such as AT&T and Verizon that offers coverage in Mexico.
VOIP is the #1 Telephone Choice For Those Renting in Baja
Firstly, we need to cover VOIP, that is voice over internet protocol. This is a way to use your computer and internet access as a telephone. You may have heard of VOIP services from companies such as Magic Jack, Skype, Vonage, Yahoo Voice, and others. There are a lot of new competing companies out there at the time of this writing. With VOIP, you don’t need a telephone land line to make international calls.
These VOIP services allow you to make calls and receive calls to and from the USA, Canada, and many other countries while you are sitting at your computer in Baja. For many Baja renters, this is all that is needed concerning phone calling and keeping in touch. So once you get internet access in Baja, you can literally receive and make calls for pennies.
With most of these VOIP services, you have to have your computer turned on, and you need a microphone and speakers to be able to communicate. A simple head set with a microphone that you can buy at Walmart will do the job. If your computer is off, and if someone calls you, then their message will just go to voice mail. When you want to call someone, you simply dial the number you want to call right from a phone pad that appears on your computer screen. And if your phone begins ringing because of an incoming call, then a pop up appears that you click on to answer the phone call. You can have a phone list of all your contacts for quick dialing, and you can have a phone number, usually with the area code of your choice.
Internet and Telephone from Telnor
In Baja and and northern Mexico, Telnor is the local land line telephone and internet service provider. In other parts of Mexico it is Telmex. With Telnor and Telmex, you can’t get internet without a local land line, but you can get a local land line without internet.
At the time of this writing, a local land line and DSL high speed internet is about $45 US a month. You can pay a bit less for a slower connection, or pay a bit more for a faster connection. If you are going to be renting in Baja long term, then you will use your local phone enough to justify paying for it so don’t despair about getting a local phone in a package. Telnor and Telmex are not to be confused with Telcel. Telcel provides cell phone service here in Baja and does not provide land line telephone service.
There are 3 speeds of internet offered by Telnor. The slowest and most economical internet package will cover you if you just want to send and receive emails. You can also get a fast enough wireless internet package for those who need high speed access, such as a day trader or webmaster. When you sign up for internet, you get a modem for wireless access. You can also plug your computer right into the modem for direct access.
Telnor services the more populated and developed areas, such as Rosarito, Ensenada, and areas west of the toll road and free road. At the time of this writing, there were no upfront costs to get a modem for internet access. A monthly bill from Telnor will come to your door. You can pay your bill at the telephone company, and at some convenience and grocery stores.
Satellite Internet – The only option for Baja Rentals not Served by Telnor
If you find a home to rent that you like that is not serviced by Telnor, then you will be getting your internet service via satellite.
The satellite internet service has some pros and cons compared to what is offered by Telnor. On the plus side, they claim to offer faster internet service then Telnor, sometimes 2 to 3 times faster. On the down side, since you are using a satellite dish located on the roof of your rental, sometimes the connection is intermittent. Another negative about satellite internet is the upfront costs for installation and satellite equipment, which can run about $350 at the time of this writing. Some landlords will cover this installation costs, while others won’t. No matter who is going to cover the costs, make sure it is addressed in your rental agreement. Another con about using satellite internet is that you can’t have a local land line with the service. You will need to use VOIP exclusively for your phone calling needs, or you can get a local cell phone for local dialing.
At the time of this writing, a company called Baja Wireless was charging $45 a month for satellite internet service, plus the installation and equipment.
Cable Service for Internet and TV
Cable service is for within the town of Rosarito only, and not is not available in the rural beach communities that we love so much. Cable service does offer a bundled package of high speed internet access and Cable TV. With cable however most of the channels are in Spanish and are not USA focused.
Baja Roaming Internet Service for Your Laptop
Telcel, the cell phone company, has an antenna that you plug into your laptop so you can have internet access just about anywhere in Baja. I have tried this service about 6 months ago and I found their least expensive service to be slow. If you think this type of service might be a fit for you, look into their faster internet service plans. There is a significant upfront cost to purchase the attena, but there are several plans to choose from.
Cell Phone Service – Options for the Baja Renter
If you need a local cell phone number, Telcel and a number of competing companies offer cell phone service. Check out Nextel as well since a lot of locals use Nextel.
If you have your cell phone from the USA from a company like AT&T or Verizon, check out their rates and their latest services for this side of the border. At the time of this writing, using my AT&T phone in Baja, and Mexico in general, was so expensive that I could only use it for emergencies. However, both Verizon and AT&T are improving their cross border service and rates.