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Viva Mexico: Can I use my cell phone on vacation in Mexico?

Viva Mexico: Can I use my cell phone on vacation in Mexico?

Viva Mexico: Can I use my cell phone while on vacation in Mexico?
By Anita Kaltenbaugh – Phoenix Mexico Travel Examiner
After living in Mexico for over two years, I know the expense of cell phones usage and calling home internationally.
Now traveling back and forth to enjoy the seductive Sea of Cortez, I still need cell service. Not that you want to be on the phone lying in the soft sandy beach with your toes in the water but just in case.
Cingular now known as AT & T previously offered a North American Plan. For someone traveling back and forth this fantastic plan touted no roaming charges and great cell service. Too good to be true? Yes, and No. If you used it more than 40% of your minutes in a month for Mexico calls the cell phone company lost money. Unfortunately for this customer who was close to the 40% only one month out of three, one day actually the week before my wedding (wedding was of course in Puerto Penasco Mexico) Cingular sent me a one page letter stating they were canceling my contract and my option was to change to another provider.  They would of course wave the cancellation fee and terminate my service. They would not allow me to stay on their service at any plan, any plan, I had no options.

Obviously, if your an excellent client (auto pay) no late payments ever, this was startling. No longer Cingular , AT & T is looking at alternatives.
Now, AT & T offers Viva Mexico, a new plan announced August 3, 2009 read about it here.

Starting at $54.99 a month you can have 1000 minutes and they rollover, watch out for the details and understand what happens if you use over 40% in one month in calls with Mexico. Texting, photos,and data usage are not included in this rate.
In some areas of Mexico, specifically Puerto Penasco, Sonora (4 hours south of Phoenix) on the beautiful Sea of Cortez, AT & T is currently the only cell phone company that works. At one time Verizon had a North American plan that worked but apparently they lost the contract with the Mexican companies for cell phone towers. Now friends with Verizon do not receive any signals.

So, before you go to Mexico, make sure your service works, call your company and see if they have international rates. Another inexpensive idea( about $5.00 a month) , download Skype to your laptop and stay somewhere with internet connection or rent a phone for a day. (Yes phone stores in Mexico offer this while there for a weekend).
In addition, in Rocky Point ( Puerto Pensaco), there are internet cafes’ that offer free phone service to customers, one such café with great food highly recommended is Max’s  Café.

Another suggestion? and this is one worth listening to.

Tell everyone you can’t be reached for a weekend. Just go to the beach and relax, take a time out and live like we did in the 80’s… no cell phones, no instant reachability. Just try it, you might enjoy it.