Telephones

Any Emergency (Fire, Police, Ambulance) from any landline or mobile telephone on the road or in San Felipe dial 911

 

Calling telephones in Mexico from a cellphone outside Mexico.

Note that you must enable international calling with your cellphone service provider before you will be able to call a Mexico number. You will think that the number you are calling is out of service if you do not activate international calling!

IMPORTANT NOTE ON CALLS TO CELLPHONES IN MEXICO

The calling party pays all charges. 

 

 

Public PayPhones and Landline Phones
The landline telephone company in this region of Baja California, Telnor, has put plenty of pay telephones in town and they are easy to use. Telnor is the “high technology” arm of the huge Mexican telephone company Telmex, and Telnor tries hard to provide service and customer satisfaction, something that is not the norm in this industry.

 

For payphones, push the little metal button with a flag engraved on it and the payphone display will give you instructions in English. If the phone is working, you start by depositing a 10 peso coin in the slot and you will be given credit to talk for several minutes. Phone cards, which use the latest digital chip technology, can be bought at many stores in various denominations (25, 50 pesos are useful) and are a very convenient way of making both local and long distance calls. The stored value in the card will be automatically recalculated as you speak and your remaining balance will be displayed in the phone window. The charges for calls are quite high and you should allow around $1 dollar per minute for calls to the USA. For dialing instructions, see below.

At this time the wired telephone and internet system extends along the business corridor from El Dorado Ranch in the north, to the prestigious community of Villas de San Franciscio 6 km south of town, but “wireless landline” phones are found covering residential areas from Villas de Cortez down to The Arches.

Caution:
Be particularly careful if you decide to use one of the many independent phones in town which invite you to use a credit card or call collect to the USA or Canada. Charges for a 10 minute call to California can easily exceed $50.00. Find out exactly what the rates are before you place a call.

 

Domestic and Business Phones
You can go to the Telnor office on Avenida Mar Bermejo (look for the red and white microwave tower on the building). Call them at 577-1000 to verify business hours. There you can make an application for a phone at your residence or business.

Installation can be as fast as a few weeks if lines or wireless service is available in your area.The wireless service entails mounting a flat panel antenna on your house that is pointed towards the transmitter tower at the entrance to El Dorado on the highway north to Mexicali. As far as the customer is concerned, the wireless system works just like the landline system; dialing is the same and you are able to install a conventional telephone and/or fax at your home. Note, however, that the bandwidth you are assigned is limited unless you subscribe to an internet package; you typically get around 15 kb/s which is suitable for voice conversations and fax use.

Basic telephone service costs around $20 USD per month after an initial $120USD installation fee. However, they waive the installation cost if you sign up for a phone/internet package that can cost from $372 pesos/month. All charges are subject to an additional 11% tax.

Allow $0.75usd/minute for calls to California. Service is cut off promptly if you do not pay your bill by the deadline (usually about 7 days after receipt). Also, the company randomly checks that you have not exceeded your credit limit for calls. This limit is normally 400 pesos. If you do, you will find that your service is automatically disabled at close of business on a Friday afternoon. You must go in to the office the following week and pay for the overlimit calls before outgoing calls can be made. Because the Mexican mail system is considered unreliable by most businesses, the Telephone company, the Water company and the Electricity company often hand-deliver their bills to your address.

 

 

Cell Phones
If communication is critical to you, make sure that you have a GSM cellphone (e.g. ATT or T-Mobile service from the USA) or any 3G or higher smartphone. Mexico, like most of the world, uses the GSM standard and US protocols such as CDMA and Iden are available only in very limited areas. It is free to receive calls on a Mexican cellphone but a US or foreign mobile phone will  have to pay roaming charges.

Even if you have no intent to use the service, we recommend that you call your mobile service provider and activate international roaming before you cross into Mexico. This will enable you to make calls back home in an emergency. If you are roaming with a U.S. cellphone in Mexico, expect to pay around $1usd/minute for calls and about $30usd/120 MB of data.

Any cellphone or landline can call emergency numbers without charge  in Northern Baja: Police and Accidents: 066; Tourist Assistance: 078.

If you plan to stay in San Felipe for an extended time, you may want to get your unlocked  smartphone (ask your US provider to unlock the phone) activated for local service by Telefonica Movistar or Telcel. The procedure is as simple as buying a new SIM card that slips into your existing phone and gives you a new Mexican telephone number. With this SIM card you can now get “refills” of your time at many local shops. It enables you to send and receive voice calls and text messages and also lets you get limited internet access.

You can activate internet access by sending a text message to 5050. Text bajo1 to 5050 for  30 MB for 1 day, cost 19 pesos; bajo7 for 200MB for 7 days, 59 pesos; bajo15 for 600 MB for 15 days, 199 pesos. Just ensure that you have deposited enough credit in your account.

You may alternatively want to consider buying one of the local “prepaid” phones for around $70usd for voice, text and internet access. You will not be able to make international calls with these devices. We recommend that people living alone have a cellphone and carry it in a pocket in case of a health or other emergency.

 

How to dial calls when you are in the San Felipe area

1. To call a local San Felipe landline number  from a landline or a cellphone, just dial the seven digits. For example, 577-1600. (This includes Mexicali numbers, because San Felipe is technically a suburb of that city)

2. To call a landline phone in other parts of Mexico from a San Felipe landline , dial 01 plus area code and number. Virtually everywhere in Mexico now uses the same convention as in the USA – a 3 digit area code followed by a seven digit local number (8 digits in Mexico City). For example, to reach the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana you would dial 01-664 977 2000

3. To call a Mexican cellphone in other parts of Mexico from a landline or a cellphone in San Felipe, you dial 045+area code and number . The calling party (landline or cellphone) will be charged 3.48 pesos (around 32 US cents) per minute. For example, to call a (hypothetical) cellphone in Tijuana you would dial 045-664-123-4567

4. To call a Mexican cellphone in the San Felipe area from your landline phone, you must dial 044 + area code + number. Typical costs for a call to a local cellphone are 25 cents/minute to the landline customer.

5. To call a local San Felipe cellphone from another local San Felipe cellphone you must dial area code and number.

6. To dial internationally from a landline or any cellphone in San Felipe , you use the international access code 00 + country code + area code + number, for example, to call the US Border crossing information in Calexico you would dial (landline or cellphone) 00-1-760-768-2383. Note that some cellphones will be barred from making international calls, depending on the plan that they have with their assigned carrier.

7. To call a U.S. (or other roaming international) cellphone anywhere in Mexico from San Felipe you would dial 00+ country Code + area Code + number in its home country. For example, to call a (hypothetical) San Diego cellphone you would dial 00-1-619-123-4567. The calling party will pay the international call charge and the roaming cellphone will pay the Mexico roaming charge plus airtime.

8. To call a Mexican cellphone that is roaming in the USA from a U.S cellphone that is roaming in Mexico. Dial only the area code and number of the cellphone, e.g (614) 123-4567

To call a San Felipe phone from outside Mexico

If you are using a cellphone to call into Mexico from the USA, you must first have your phone activated for international service – call your service provider! If your phone is not activated, you will get error messages which you may interpret as saying that the number you are dialing is not available. We get a lot of irate callers who email us to tell us that various hotel numbers in San Felipe are not working when, in fact, the problem is that their phone is not authorized for international calling.

1 To call a Mexican landline  from outside Mexico you dial your international access code+country code for Mexico (52) + area code and number of the landline. For example to call 577-1234 in San Felipe from the U.S.A you would dial 011-52-686-577-1234

2 To call a Mexican cellphone from outside Mexico you must now add a “1” between the country code and the area code of the cellphone. For example to call a hypothetical cellphone in San Felipe from the U.S. you would dial 011-52-1-686-123-4567

 

 

Dialing toll-free calls in Mexico.

The system here is essentially identical to that in the USA where we have 800 numbers.Here are three examples:

  • To call Telnor from any phone and obtain information on services dial 01-800-025-2525
  • To call Telcel from any phone and obtain information on services dial 01-800-026-2626
  • To call Telefonica Moivistar from any phone and obtain information on services dial 01-800-468-3040

To dial “toll free” calls to the USA, you must replace the 800, 866, 877, 888 prefix in the toll free number as shown in the table below:

USA Toll-free “Area Code”

replace with

800

880

866

883

877

882

888

881

So, for example, to dial AT&T Wireless customer service in the USA (800-947-5096) you would dial from San Felipe using either a landline or cellphone: 00-1-880-947-5096. These calls are not really toll free, you will pay around 50 cents/minute for the privilege of being able to access these services.

 

Internet Access

Telnor, the telephone company, is basically the only game in town if you want a dsl line using their wired or wireless service.

Many restaurants and bars around town have wireless internet for their clients and this is the best system to use if you want to do casual, non-sensitive, work. You will likely have to ask for a password from the staff. Note that most access points use the default WEP encryption as provided by Telnor in the setup. This system is very vulnerable and another person connected to the access point can easily hack into your computer or watch what you are doing. Do NOT use these systems to do online banking or credit card transactions.

Telmex supplies wireless internet along the San Felipe Malecon that is available for visitors. For best access, sit in a location close to the Taco Factory and follow instructions when you open your web browser. Residents with a landline phone can log on with their prodigy email address and password to get premium service (2MB/s down and 1MB/s up).

 

Useful San Felipe Telephone Numbers (all 686 area code)
Local Police: 577-1134 (or dial 911 in emergency)
Hospital Buen Pastor : 577-0391
Red Cross: 577-1544

Dr Victor Abasolo: 577-1706
Fire Dept: 577-1882: (Ambulance also)
Mayor’s Office/ Delegacion Municipal: 577-1021

Secretary of Tourism office: 577-1155, 577-1865 (phone/fax)

Taxi – for the taxi stand by Bancomer opposite the Rockodile, dial mobile 044-686-211-9943, for the stand in front of China Inn on Chetumal dial 577-1293

Chamber of Commerce: (COTUCO): 577-2300

District Attorney: 577-1110

Immigration Office: 577-1083
Port Captain: 577-1577

Federal Preventive Police: 577-1045
Airport: 577-1368
Health Center: 577-1521
State Judicial Police: 577-1203
Civil Protection Unit: 577-1433
Civil Aeronautics: 577-1865

Businesses that you will eventually have to deal with:

Bancomer: 577-1090 or 1051

Comision Federal de Electricidad: 071

Telnor: 577-1000

Important telephone numbers while on the road: These work anywhere in Baja on cellphones or landlines

Tourist assistance 078

Emergency help from any phone (police, ambulance, accidents..) 911

Baja Area Codes:

CITY AREA CODE
Ensenada 646
Mexicali 686
Rosarito 661
San Felipe 686
San Luis Rio Colorado 653
San Quintin 616
Tecate 665
Tijuana 664

update 31 October 2016