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OSEA Travel to Guide Yucatán and Maya Riviera

Telephony: Questions and Answers about Telephone Communications

What are the OSEA Contact / Telephone Numbers?
[011.52] 985.851.0384 Mexico Landline
[011.521] 999.144.5603 Mexico Cell
812.669.1369 Skype International Voicemail & Phone (domestic call from USA, received in Mexico)

How do I Call / Dial Mexican Phones?
– When dialing a Mexico Landline from the USA, dial 011 for international, 52 for México plus 10 digits
– When dialing a Mexico cell from the USA, dial 011 for international, 521 for México plus 10 digits
– To call a cell phone from a local Mexico landline or pay phone, dial 044 before the 10 digit number.
– To call a cell phone from a cell phone just dial the 10 digit number, if local to local just 7 digits.

How do my family and friends call me by phone while in OSEA?
Generally speaking you want to restrict your friends and family calling you while in the OSEA program in order to maximize your experience and learning in this field study abroad program. We understand that your family may need to contact you by phone on emergency situations. We ask that you reduce your international phone calls to such emergencies. If necessary your family can contact you at the osea phone numbers above only on emergency conditions. As well they can make arrangements via email or text messages so that THEY CAN CALL YOU at the internet telephone caseta in Pisté (see below) or in your family homestay if your family has a landline. Another option is for them to contact you directly via your US cell phone. We do not recommend that you make any long distance or international calls -- either receiving or making -- from your Mexican cell phone.

Do I need a Cell Phone?
Yes. We ask you to bring a cheap, used unlocked cell phone for use during the OSEA program. This is necessary for the OSEA staff to be able to locate you and communicate with you at any point in the program. See below for more information about Mexican cell phones and other questions. We also ask you to maintain your US cell phone service.

Why Do I need my USA Cell Phone?
We do not require you to have your USA cell phone active during the osea program. However, by choosing to not suspend your USA service, you maintain direct communication with USA in case there is an emergency that requires you to respond. Further, upon arrival to osea at the start of the program we would like to have this cell phone in order to contact you in case that there is some type of urgent situation or if you do not show up as expected.

Why Do I need a Mexican Cell Phone?
Once in Pisté we need to have an everyday form of telephone communication with you. The Mexican cell phone is the best solution since the USA cell phone typically charges $2 or $4 per minute while roaming internationally. This cost prohibits using the USA cell phones on a regular basis to communicate with you while participating in the OSEA program.

What do I do with my US Cell Phone and Service?
If you have a cell phone, you have two options. On the one hand you can suspend your service for a two month period. This suspension will extend the time of your contract. You will need to contact your providor and assess the benefits of doing this. We ask that you do not start the suspension until the day after you arrive in Pisté so that we may be able to contact you in case of emergency on the day of arrival.

On the other hand, we recommend that you maintain your service and use this as a "pager" of sorts -- via the text messaging and in emergencies voice contact. Closely review your providor's service offerings for international and mexican roaming and texting. Often you can buy a $5 package for México that gives discounts to the normal roaming rates. Regardless of the discount, if you use the phone with the regularity with which you are accustomed to in the USA you would easily create charges of $100 or $200 in two weeks.

What kind of Cell Phone do I Need?
If the physical phone you use in the USA is not a quad-band/international cell phone, then you will not have service in México. Find out what kind of phone you own. Your providor may also not provide service in areas of Yucatán. We encourage you to get detailed information about what services your usa telephone company provides. You need to tell us if your phone does or not work for when you arrive on the start date of the program.

What Kind of Mexican Cell Phones and Prepaid Cell Phone Service are there?
There are two major cell phone companies in México: AmigoCell (operated by Telcel) and Moviestar. I recommend telcel for Pisté, but if you were to be using this in other parts of Mexico, such as Mexico City, Mérida or Cancun, you would have to closely investigate what each offers.

You can buy a cheap cell phone from one of these providers. Your phone will be locked to that providor. Typically these phones come with about $200 pesos of airtime, thus a $400 peso phone sounds like a bargain. But depending on where you buy your phone, the actual make/models may be quite cheap. My 200 peso phone has a display that is so narrow that I have to scroll to see the whole name or number of someone calling me! They are very very cheap throw-away phones.

What Kind of Used Cell Phone Should I Buy to Bring With Me?
Thus, instead, of buying a cell phone there, you should buy an UNLOCKED Quad-Band cell phone in the USA to use with a SIMM card that you buy on-site. I recommend buying an old nokia, LG or motorola that uses simm cards. Ideally a quad band is good, but not all that necessary. Thus you can go to ebay and buy a throw away phone $20 or $30. A used Razr and other once fashionable phones from 3 years ago are about $70-80. Older phones are even cheaper. If you have a locked cell phone you can unlock it in Cancun or in Mérida for about 250 pesos ($25) to 400 pesos. Do not buy a used verizon phone because they are not simm operated.

I do not recommend using your unlocked cell phone from the usa. Even if you already have an unlocked phone as your everyday phone, you do not want to be swapping out the mexican and usa simm cards to make your phone calls. The humidity can effect the quality of calls and physical phone.

For more information, this travel site has more details and commentary of Mexican cell phone services. www.mexconnect.com/

Where do I buy my Mexican Cell Phones?
You will buy your Mexican cell phone or Mexican simm card in Pisté. Mérida, Pisté/Chichén, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum all have different area codes. Thus, you will be charged roaming charges if you buy your phone in say Mérida or Cancun and use it in Pisté.

Are there Pay Phones in México?
Yes, there are many payphones that you can access easily in cities.
– Mexican pay phones use prepaid calling cards.
– The vast majority of pay phones are owned and operated by TELMEX. You will need to buy a TELMEX prepaid phone card at virtually any corner store.
– CAUTION: Cancun Airport has pay phones that are not Telmex but a unique phone company that does not have any pay phones any where else in the country! Bizarre, but true. Do not try to use this phone except under emergency situations. Its a real rip off.
– Pisté has many Telmex payphones for use with the Telmex prepaid card.
– Telmex cards can be bought in any corner store that sells cigs, soda, chips, lottery; at pharmacies; and almost any place else when in town or airports; stores often have a TELMEX sign in front. Cards are sold in 30, 50, 100 peso sizes. Save the used cards and donate to OSEA.
– Prepaid payphone calls to cell phones are outrageously priced at 5 pesos a minute (50¢ a min.). Long distance calls are expensive as well. Use one 100 peso card for about 5 minutes of direct dialed; this price makes it only viable for emergencies.
– Note also that you can use calling card from the USA such at IDT, Sprint, ATT, MCI, etc. from the Telmex pay phones HOWEVER you must insert a valid calling card into the machine. No charges will be made on the card. You must also call your USA based company in advance to get the 800# that you must call while IN México. Make sure they understand you want to call the USA FROM México to get rates and the correct #800 to call.

Pre Paid Phone Cards for Pay Phones
There are at least 3 kinds of phone cards in Mexico.
The AMIGO Card or Amigo-Telcel (a telmex product) is for the pay by use cell phone.
The LADATEL telmex card is for the regular public pay phone -- buy these
The third kind that i have only found in the Cancun Airport (see below) is called El Tucan. These are for the pay phones by the bathrooms in Cancun Airport that are located between the Coffee shop and the Boarding Security Check Point. Do not buy these cards. Caution.
Cancun Airport has the usual Telmex Public Pay Phones. Get the LADATEL Telmex card at any of the little airport stores

Internet Telephone Service in México
Cheaper internet phone service is available in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum at internet ciber cafes. Directly across the street of the Cancun Bus Station is a ciber cafe with excellent internet and telephony. These internet phones are vastly cheaper to use than payphones and mexican landlines. The rates are about 2 or 3 pesos a minute to the USA compared to higher cell phone and landline rates. At an exchange rate of 12 pesos to the dollar, however this is still not economical compared to USA cell phone packages and even prepaid cell phones.

This less expensive Internet Telephone Service is also available in Pisté for making your long and international distance phone calls. You can arrange to receive calls if your homestay does not have a landline. The ciber cafe in front of the OXXO convenient store in Pisté is the only place for this internet telephony. This is also the main internet cafe for tourists.

Will I have telephone access in my Home-Stay family?
Every homestay family is different. Some families have phones, some do not. Some families have phones but they may not have money to pay the phone bill and thus there is no phone service. If your are located with a family that has a working phone you will not be allowed to make long distance or international phone calls FROM the phone. The billing system is such that a call is not charged until 2 months later!!! There is no way for anyone to adequately keep track of your international and long distance phone calls. Thus you will not have access to make such calls. It will be possible to RECEIVE calls on your homestay family's phone. We strongly recommend that you essentially limit your calls to family and friends to a bare minimum of emergency calling. This will increase the value of your experience living in México.

Should I Buy an International Phone?
No. These phones are advertized on websites such as National Geographic Society, Airline Magazines, Travel Agencies, and Student travel sites, study abroad websites. I do not recommend these. The rates are quite expensive, some more than others. Perhaps I am wrong, so if this intrigues you then read closely the rates that they offer for Mexico and the coverage for Chichen. My feeling is that you will end up losing more money than saving. For example, Mobal requires you to buy their $50 phone and has rates in the $2, $3, and $4 per minute rates for calls and texts. Thats simply insane! However, international phone service that is available through international student membership cards do have more realistic rates. ISECard for example offers a calling system that is quite reasonable on the surface. However the rates are great for MOST of Mexico, but terrible for Yucatan or any other place outside of Mexico City, Monterrey and other very select cities. Mexico has 8 band-frequencies each of which have different international rates, thus be careful!



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