Veracruz Toll Road

Tips for Hotel Internet Access. Customs Rules for Taking Computers to Mexico. 

Will you find Wireless Internet at hotels? What is Inalambrico?

Laptop user in hotel

You will find Internet connections at hotels throughout Mexico-even at budget hotels. WIFI (pronounced Wee fee) means wireless Internet. But you are more likely to hear Internet Inalambrico. You will soon learn to cherish and hate the words, Internet Inalambrico (in al AM bree co). It means Internet that is wireless or cordless or without cables! Whee! When a hotel desk clerk tells you they have Internet inalambrico, you will at first jump up and down in joy. Your joy will be short-lived, however, It means that, Si; they have wireless Internet, but no, it may not reach to your room. Thus, unless you are close to the hotel router or repeater, you will have to wander the halls blindly like a vampire in search of blood, with your laptop in your hand, tripping over hidden pitfalls that lurk in hotel hallways, or go to the lobby or restaurant. 

 You can cast your Internet from your phone to a certain extent if you have an unlimited plan in Mexico.

A hunched back from using a low hotel desk (or your lap) for your laptop can be avoided by thinking outside the box. You are not flying. A couple of extra pounds in your vehicle won't cost you a thing. Get a real, extendable desk for your laptop or, as I do, a collapsible table, about half the size of a card table.

Get A Range Extender

Be sure to read the reviews to make sure you get one that will work in a hotel without access to the router. I've used several: Netgear, TP-Link,Techkey and Panda. Each have had their good and bad points. Most all will connect with the old-style USB connector so if you've only got "C", get an adapter. And most extenders dropped support for Apple products, so verify that what you get will work for you.

Tricks To Get The Best Internet

A room closer to the lobby gets a stronger signal. A room with a balcony beats wandering about the gardens in search of an Internet signal. Asking the bellman which rooms have the best signal is about as effective as asking him which room is the quietest - which is to say, not very. 

When you register, be sure to ask for the clave or codigo (access code). Desk clerks will proudly tell you they have Internet inalambrico, but forget to give you the code. Even hotels that have strong routers and a series of repeaters can be compromised by employees who share the code with their primos in the neighborhood.

Still, we should be grateful for what we can get. Sometimes you will be astounded at the speed of your connection. Other times you will just get sleepy waiting for a download. But I remember the days when even a dial-up Internet connection was rare in Mexican hotels. And in those days I had an expense account and stayed in 5 Star hotels. Today, it's 3 for me. I cannot speak to the quality of Internet connections in 5 star hotels since I don't get invited to them anymore (pobrecito Miguelito). But for 3 and 4 star hotels the info above is what I found to be true.

If you need any cables or general computer stuff before you leave go to Amazon. Computers-Tablets You can get a lot of stuff at Best Buy and the like in Mexico, but for real geeky stuff, you will have to find a "Tianguis de Computadoras" or flea market that specializes in computers.

If you prefer, there are Internet cafes everywhere, even in many small towns that you would hardly expect -- even in Real de Catorce, which is about as remote as most people will get. High-speed Internet connections (well, medium-speed as in 2-3 Mbits) are the norm in Mexico today. I did get 10 Mbits in Jalapa and Orizaba, but that will be very rare. Most Internet cafes will let you connect your laptop computer at Internet cafes in Mexico. Internet cafes are dwindling because so many people have computers at home, or through their cell phones these days. I suspect they will go the way of the larga distancia or long-distance telephone offices. 

Taking Computers Into Mexico as Tourists or As Expats

As an expat, you can bring a whole houseful of computers into Mexico when you use the exemption afforded you when you get your resident visa. Until then, you are treated as a tourist. And please don't try to argue with the customs inspectors by telling them that you live in Mexico on your tourist permit. No, no, no.

You can bring your laptop computer into Mexico with no problems. For some reason, a desktop computer will raise a custom's inspectors eyebrows. However, this is not the problem it used to be, so if that is all you have, you can try to take it, but be ready to pay an import fee, generally about 16% of the value according to aduana's book. Cost basis is equivalent item on eBay.

OK all that said, I know lots of tourists living in Mexico illegally who brought lots of computers down with them by not declaring them and not paying a duty. I, of course, cannot recommend you do that. I can just tell you what I have observed and let you make your own decision.

Internet Phone Service

If you are a tourist, just get Skype and call / video chat with that. 

If you are living in Mexico, You may still be happy with Skype. You will find high-speed Internet these days. If you want good call quality, you can get a VOIP phone. I have met people who are happy with MagicJack. I use an unlocked cell phone and buy a Telcel chip for it. When in a hotel room, I use Skype and am very happy with it. There are always new and improved services, so these are just suggestions.