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Telmex Infinitum & Wideband Internet Provider - Are You Getting What You Pay For?

working on the internetWith increased demand the internet bandwidth across Baja Sur, the system has been getting slower and slower. Are you getting the full services that you are being billed for? Not likely....

When I first moved to La Paz a little over a decade ago there was a waiting list just to receive a land line, as Telmex just didn't have enough available switches to supply the rapidly growing city.  Where I had left from, San Diego, at the same time was well into the ADSL generation and wireless was even available in certain locations in the city. Cell service came on the scene in 2004 in La Paz with explosive growth, as it provided phone service to families beyond the reach of the growing hard wire network.

Here in La Paz at the time, the common means of connecting to the internet was via a dial-up modem and on a 'where is as is' basis, very often at an Internet Cafe. Wireless connection was not even a though and hard line connection speeds were around 32kbps on a good day, at a good time. It was during that time that Telmex laid a series of fiber-optic cables the length of the peninsula. Prior to that the connection was copper wire and microwave relay to the mainland phone system.

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Within months of the fiber-optic trunk lines coming online there was a rapid growth in land-line phones which were required to get a DSL connection. Internet Cafes began to disappear as home ownership of DSL connections and personal computers soared in La Paz and Los Cabos.

Several wireless access point providers showed up on the scene, particularly to service the seasonal cruising crowd, a densely populated group of gringos anchored in the Ensenada de La Paz. Unfortunately, the technology was budding and too many users thought it was "OK" to share their access codes with friends, who in turn shared it with friends. The systems were unstable,  overcrowded and slow, but did provide rudimentary access to the many of the cruisers anchored in La Paz.

TelcelWide Band 3G Service in Baja Sur

About 4 years ago Telcel introduced Band Ancha or wideband 3G service to Baja Sur. I was one of the earlier subscribers, using the broadband card to access and work from my boat. I was one of the fortunate users, as my card would usually lock onto an actual 3G equipped tower. There were a couple of things that you had to ask your sales person directly to get a square answer to. 1) How much of Baja Sur is actually 3G equipped 2) What is the bandwidth limit to the 'unlimited' plan.

At the time of launch very few cell site antennas were equipped to handle 3G. Several of my friends, just blocks away from my usage point, were very disappointed in getting slightly faster than old FAX speeds from their 3G card as they logged on to an older antenna system. In Los Cabos the coverage is slightly better, principally from a geographic benefit.

3g Banda AnchaYes, it also seemed a little confusing, that the 'Unlimited Plan' wasn't. In fact you received 3gig of high speed download, then you were switched to the slower speed. I found on a good day I would get between 150kbps and 225kbps download speeds. Upload speeds were just slightly faster than FAX. (14kbps) On a non-3G connection speeds ranged from 12kpbs to about 36kbps. Downloading video on a 3G card with a 3G connection is still painfully slow and also very quickly chews up your now allotted 3gigs of high speed download. If you don't pay your month to month bill at least three days in advance of the due date you can anticipate a few days without service.

TelCel 3G Services

Plan
Max DL/mo

Monthly
Fee in Pesos

Available Bandwidth

10GB

$ 599.00

10GB

5GB

$ 449.00

5GB

3 GB

$ 299.00

3 GB

Student

$ 249.00

2 GB*

1 GB

$ 249.00

1 GB

500 MB

$ 199.00

500 MB

4G is not really available yet in the US (although some providers are claiming so) and is just on the drawing board for installation here in Mexico. It is of interest to note here that the maximum  (unattainable) speed of a 3G network 3.6Mbps or about 3600Kbps and on EDGE connection the system can achieve a maximum of around 300kbps. So right off the bat it is obvious that Baja California Sur customers of Telcel and Banda Ancha  are not getting the alleged world class service from the richest man on the planet, Carlos Slim, owner of Telcel and Telmex.

Broadband ADSL Infintium

On land line connections the quality of service appears to be just as bad. We tested at several locations in Los Cabos, San Jose del Cabo and La Paz at residential locations. Download speeds were as low as 156kbps, averaged about 700kbps and the highest tested was 1456Kbps. All of the tested home locations were paying for the Telmexbase phone/internet package of $389 pesos per month, which should provide 3Mbps or 3000Kbps. The best location was getting 48% of what they paid for, the worst connection was getting just 5% of the service they paid for.

InfinitiumTelmex also offers 5Mbps plans ($599 pesos/mo) and 10Mbps plans ($999 pesos per month. We tested at only one commercial location, paying for the 5Mbps plan in La Paz. The results were the exact same as the 3Mbps plan, around 0.7Mbps. It would appear that if you are buying an expanded velocity plan in Baja California Sur you are wasting money... period.

What is the problem?

In three words... expodentially increased demand. It is truly remarkable that the infrastructure of the internet has been able to even nearly keep pace with the demand when much effort is involved. It is not surprising that the internet bogs down where little effort is being made to keep up with demand. Netflix launched a one month free campaign in both the US and Mexico to promote their new services of downloadable movies. Along with YouTube, Facebook and a myriad of other video providers demand for internet bandwidth has soared, beyond the wildest imagination of Al Gore when he invented the internet. (LOL)

Having been an executive in the cellular industry, the catch phrase was to: "Provide a quality of service that is one step ahead of a class action lawsuit." It would appear that Telmex/Telcel has slipped below that margin of service.

Test Your Internet Connection Velocity

Want to find out if you are getting what you pay for? Test to a remote server when your internet connection is idle.

First, you must be on your own modem connection, whether 3G or standard DSL/Broadband. Shared wireless connections, or community cable systems can't be tested, unless you can boot all your neighbors off the system.  Although you can test through a wireless system to your laptop or computer, the most accurate results come from hardwiring direct to your modem.

For an accurate test close all programs, Skype, Messengers, and Instant Chat programs, particularly Outlook, an email program as these might use the internet during the test and skew the results. Do not use your internet connection at any machine in the house during the test.

Visit this link for a free internet speed test  to a remote server. try the test at a couple of different times of day. We have found 5-9PM to be the slowest, after midnight the net speeds up again sometimes to 1.5Mbps.

What you should get for realistic Infinitium results should provide a number around 2200-2500Kbps download and more than 1400-1800kbps upload. Any less than that is substandard.

What you can do...

Demand has outstripped modernization of the Baja internet backbone. For the continued growth and investment of residential applications and business expansion, a quality internet infrastructure is no longer a luxury, but an essential. I do empathize with Telmex/Telcel,in trying to keep up with demand, but when service falls this far behind expectations...

It is a common observation that many Baja locals are timid, when it comes to rocking the boat about utility services, the loud voice may need to come from North American users. Encourage your neighbors to check their connection and complain as well. it is likely that we are not getting anywhere near what we pay for.

For land line Infintium service call Telmex and complain (1-800-123-2222 in Mexico) or email via the Telmex website for Infintium

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For Banda Ancha wireless 3G service the system has less guarantees, but if you feel you are not getting the kind of service you anticipated contact Telcel (664 633 3300 or 01 800 02 62 626 if you are on an annual plan.) or via the Telcel website  or you can visit in person your local Telcel Customer Service office. Complaining to 'Authorized Dealers' is a waste of your breath.

If there is no positive action of action on the behalf of Telmex or Telcel, contact PROFECA the Mexican Consumer Affairs Department.

The squeeky wheel gets the grease. With a strong internet backbone life in Baja California Sur can be even more productive and enjoyable.

Thanks for reading and happy Net Surfing!