Low Cost Telephone Service at Lake Chapala Ajijic, Mexico !

August 12, 2008



Problem: On the surface here in most of Mexico including the Lake Chapala – Ajjic area there appears to be only one telephone company in town.


The common name is TEL MEX. They have very close to a monopoly and of course most of the time they act like it.  Which means, among other things, that their long distance rates are very high compared to the USA and other developed companies.


Most folks go ahead and get a Tel Mex phone if their home did not come with one. There could be a wait of several weeks to several months depending upon just where you want the telephone installed. The initial installation charge for a new line is approx. $150 USD.


Then, your basic monthly bill will be about $20 USD. Extra features of course cost extra. For your 20 bucks you get 100 local area calls. After you use your 100 calls you pay a few pesos for each additional local call in that billing period.




There are several “Call Back Services”available. What is a call back service? A call back service is a company that provides you long distance service at a fraction of the cost of that charged by TEL MEX.


Here’s how it works. You give your credit card number to the company. They give you a number to call in the USA. You let the number in the USA you call ring one long ring and then you hang up.


Within a few seconds or a few minutes (depending upon how busy the system is) the computer on their end calls you back. Then a pleasant computer voice gives you clear instructions in English of how to place your call.


If you are calling from a registered telephone (like your home phone) there is no need to enter your code. If you’re traveling, or at a friend’s house you will be asked to enter your code number.


Either way, the computer will then let you call your number in the USA or Canada or where ever in the world you want to call including Mexico.


Rates run about 18 – to 20 cents a minute for calls to the USA and Canada depending upon the service and if you are calling a regular number or a toll free number.


Here’s a Blatant  Plug for the service I use:


I use Global Phone. I receive an e mail statement monthly which shows all the numbers I called, the minutes I talked, the date and time of the call, and the individual charge. On a recent invoice I talked 224.34 minutes and they charged my credit card $39.34 which averages out to 17.53 cents a minute and this includes the excise tax.


A local Lake Chapala lady named Nancy administers the Global Phone Accounts in our area. She can take all your information and get your account set up for you right over the phone.        GIVE NANCY A CALL at 766 3040 or from the USA the number would be 011 52 376 766 3040


NOW, please tell her Sid Grosvenor referred you to her and she will give me a small credit on my telephone charges for the referral, OK ?




Now here’s solution B. I personally use both A & B since there is no monthly fee at all with Solution A and so it becomes my back up solution.


Solution B requires that you have a HIGH SPEED INTERNET CONNECTION.  High speed connections are available from three different firms in the Lake Chapala area. None of the three firms covers the entire area. The three firms are TEL MEX, Laguna , and Cyber Cable. The prices of the three providers are competitive. Laguna uses a wireless signal from their towers to your roof top antenna. Tel Mex uses a DSL (digital subscriber line) hard line system. And Cyber Cable uses a hard line cable to your home. Note, not all three services are available throughout the entire Lake Chapala – Ajijic area.


PART 2 of Solution B


OK, now that you have your high speed internet connection in place you are ready to use a technology called Voice Over Internet. There are various companies who provide this type of service.


Not to bore you with the technical details, but basically you use your high speed internet connection to carry a voice signal over the internet to whoever you are calling. NO the person you are calling doesn’t have to have a high speed or any other type of internet connection. They will just answer their phone and it will be you.


The company best known is VONAGE.


Vonage supplies you with a type of high speed signal router that you hook up to your computer and then you plug a regular telephone or fax machine or both into the router they supply (Easy to follow Instructions).


You can choose various service plans with Vonage. I use the $14.95 a month plan which allows me to place 500 minutes a month to any telephone in the USA (including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico) or Canada without additional charges. There’s small charge per minute for calls over your included 500 minutes. THERE IS NO CHARGE FOR INCOMING CALLS. Just think the grandkids can call you as often as they wish.


OK, how do they call you? Remember they don’t need a computer or internet connection. They just dial your telephone number that has been assigned to you by the Vonage folks at what ever area code you chose when you signed up.


Since I have family and friends in the Dallas area I chose a 972 area code.  There’s also an unlimited calling plan for $29.95 a month.


There are far too many additional features for me to explain here, but if you interested to learn more just go to www.vonage.com


If you want to do us both a favor just add my telephone number (1 972 – 635 5290) in the box on the Vonage home page on the right hand side of the second line where it says “Heard About Us from a Friend” So we both win !


You can even have a 1 – 800 number which is an overlaid number to your base number if you have a business or have family in various parts of the USA or Canada who you want to call you and not have to pay any long distance to call the area code you selected as your primary area code.  I have a 1 800 number. It costs just $5 a month for up to 100 minutes.


Here’s a trick so that you will never run over your 100 minutes. When they call. Just tell them you will call them right back. Then call them back  and since you are not using the 1 0800 feature when you call back then there’s no charge against the 1 -800 feature.


So, you see staying connected with family, grandkids and business is as easy as V O N A G E. C O M.


  • Ruth Hill

    Good morning Sid,
    I was just reading your piece on telephone service in Mexico. I have learned of another one that is practically free. You buy a “Magic Jack” (sold here in Radio Shack & a few other places) for $39.95. That includes the device and your first year of service. After that it is only $19.95 per YEAR. That’s right for a year. It looks like a flash drive and you plug it into a USB port on your computer or laptop and then your phone into the magic jack. If you have a cordless phone you can plug the base into the magic jack and you have hands free anywhere in the house. You also get a USA telephone number and you can call anywhere in the US or Canada. Not sure about other places. BUT you can’t use it in Mexico without it costing you big bucks. I have a friend that uses it on the north side of the lake there.
    Ruth Hill

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Ruth and thanks for your comments.

    I have a Magic Jack and so far it seems to be working fine.

    I also have two Vonage lines and a Vonage 1 -877 number so it’s toll free to clients calling from the USA or Canada no matter what their home exchange is.

    1 – 877 514 1396

    Not sure about you friend’s Magic Jack expenses but my experience (several months use) has not resulted in any additional charges. Perhaps she’s calling outside of the USA or Canada.

    I admit however that I don;t use the Magic JAck very often. Perhaps some other Club Member can comment more on their Magic Jack Experience.

    Thanks again, Sid

  • Ruth Hill

    Good morning Sid,
    I just watched your video of your drive from W. Ajijic to the caraterra and towards Guadalajara. It was interesting BUT the background music was so loud I could hardly hear you. I was interested in what you had to say but barely heard anything. Just thought you should know in case others had the same problem.


  • http://ChapalaClub Carol Rome

    We have used skype for a long time now to connect while we winter in Mexico. If your contacts do not have a computer or refuse to download skype you can pay a low low fee online and call their land lines. Cheap way to go. If they have skype your call costs nothing as you talk computer to computer.

  • patricia

    Hola fellow expats,
    I’ve lived in Mexico for a little over 2 years now and about 5 or 6 months ago bought 3 magicjacks….One for myself and 2 others for family members living in the States….
    I thought magicjack was wonderful….I even bought (2) 5 year plans for minutes that only cost me $59.00 each…That amounted to about a $40.00 savings over the next 5 years….
    Now however, every time I call the States my magicjack only works for about a half hour. At that time my guest on the other end can no longer hear me….So, I hang up, redial and for the next 20 to 30 minutes I am fine again…I’m not sure what the problem is….I’ve talked with the magicjack people and they walk me thru some steps and then it seems my magicjack is fine…..But a few calls later the same thing happens…It is frustrating because I use my magicjack on a regular basis….
    Let me know if anyone else is having a similar problem…

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Patti, I have a Magic Jack but never use it long enough experience the problem you’re having. I also have a couple Vonage lines and have talked on these for over an hour at a time and never had a problem.

    Perhaps someone else will have more experience. Thanks for the comment. Sid

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Ruth, Yes, a lot of our readers brought this to my attention. Future videos will be better. Thanks again. Sid

  • Sven H

    What is the best fast internet you can get in Ajijic today?
    Are there possible satellite connections?
    Are there any cable-connections possible?
    If only ADSL – who delivers the best speed?
    Thanks for any onfo
    Sven H

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi and Thanks for your question.

    You can get High Speed service here with cable, thru DSL with Tel Mex and via satellite.

    Speeds for home use are up to 2 mb bundled with telephone service by Tel Mex and the bundled price with 200 local calls, and is 599 pesos or approx .$50 USD.

    Tel Mex has the best up time percentage. The local cable firm (where available) has about a 90% up time and they offer similar speds but bundle he service with various cable TV packages. You can;t get Internet without also taking at least the minimum TV package.

    Satellite service is available, but little used. Sorry I don;t have the rates but it would be higher than Tel Mex.

    Hope this helps. Siempre tu amigo, Sid

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