Other Telephone Service Options:
If you want to call abroad from Baja, you can use international callback services in order to save on your international calls. This solution will allow you to call your family and friends abroad and to stay within your budget.
Save big and find cell phone plans and credit card offers available for consumers.
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
After 12:01 a.m. on Saturday 4 November 2006, the cost of calls to Mexican cellphones are charged to the calling party. This will apply to local calls, long distance calls and international calls. The complicated procedure for dialing the cellphone is explained below. Note that the person placing the call to the cellphone will pay whatever charges are involved in making the connection and will also pay the airtime of the cellphone being called. This means that the cost of the call to the calling party will be substantially increased. The minimum charge is 3.4 pesos/minute (34 cents US) See the new dialing instructions below.
We recommend you print out the list of emergency numbers for your journey down and be sure you have enabled your cellphone service for Mexico.
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. At this time the wired system extends only from the Arches at the north, to the harbor 3 km south of town, but wireless phones are found north of town to around El Dorado. Push the little metal button with a flag engraved on it and the payphone display will give you instructions in English. Deposit a 5 or 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.
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. This process will take a little time and involve an up-front payment of $50 to 100. Installation can be as fast as a few weeks if lines in your area are available. Telnor operates two types of service; conventional landlines for people living in the central area of San Felipe, and wireless telephone service for those people living away from the reach of the landlines- primarily north of town to the El Dorado Ranch and ajoining properties. This 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; you typically get around 15 kb/s which is suitable for voice conversations and fax use. If you want to plug in a modem for connecting your computer, you will likely find that you can only connect to the internet at 14.4 kb/s with this system. The phone company can give you more bandwidth if you sign up for their wireless-equivalent of a DSL connection. This is an additional monthly charge of around $30.
Typical monthly base charge for a residential line is around $18 and local calls are billed at about 15 cents each (there is no charge for the first 100 calls) plus applicable long distance tarrifs. Allow $0.75/minute for calls to California. All charges are subject to an additional 10% tax. 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, both the Telephone company and the Electricity company often hand-deliver their bills to your address.
If communication is critical to you, make sure that you have a GSM cellphone (e.g. ATT or T-Mobile service from the USA). 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. Also note that for cellphones, only the calling party pays. It is free to receive calls on the Mexican system but you will still have to pay roaming charges to your US carrier.
If you have a US cellphone that uses the GSM standard ( ATT, T-mobile), we recommend that you be sure to activate it for use in Mexico (call your US company before you cross into Mexico - this is essential!). There is very limited CDMA service in Mexico for Verizon. Sprint/Nextel service is not available in San Felipe but it does work along the border corridor.
Any GSM, TDMA or analog cellphone (or landline phone) can call emergency numbers without charge while on the road 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 (ask your US provider to unlock the phone) GSM cellphone 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 identity. You may alternatively want to consider buying one of the local "prepaid" phones, however, 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.
As with most countries except the USA, local cellphone users are not charged for calls they receive, only for calls they make. However, if you are roaming with a U.S. cellphone in Mexico, expect to pay around $1/minute for airtime plus any long distance charges.
How to dial calls when you are in the San Felipe area
1. To call a local San Felipe landline number ( prefixes 576 and 577) 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 now 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
iIf 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 (san felipe prefixes 576 and 577) 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 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"
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.
Telnor, the telephone company, is basically the only game in town if you want a dsl line and are in a part of town (basically from the Arches in the north to the Harbor in the south) served by their landlines. Wireless telephone service is supplied by them to the El Dorado Ranch area but the system is old and speeds are like dial-up if you can get it.
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. If you have access to a standard telephone, there are toll-free access numbers for companies such as AOL in Mexicali - check with them for the latest numbers.
Useful San Felipe Telephone Numbers (all 686 area code)
Local Police: 577-1134 (or dial 066 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: 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
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
Important telephone numbers while on the road: These work anywhere in Baja on cellphones or landlines
Tourist assistance 078
Emergency help (police, ambulance, accidents..) 066
Baja Area Codes:
|San Luis Rio Colorado||653|
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San Felipe, Baja California, México