Monday, December 12, 2011

Internet service: Telcel Banda Ancha review

Back in March I found one kind of solution to my unhappy state of internet-less-ness.

I had been wandering from park to café, wearing out the laptop battery, getting a sore butt from sitting on wooden benches for hours.

With some helpful advice from a couple of local store employees, I got a broadband internet USB stick, called Banda Ancha, and bingo! I had working internet access for the first time at our almost-empty house. It does make a place feel cozy.

At that time I posted that I would give a more fulsome review after using it for awhile. I was reminded of that when someone on the Yolisto forum asked this week about broadband USB "dongles". During my last stay in Mérida the little device got a good workout and I now can say a few things about it:

Ease of use: It's pretty easy to install, once you figure out where you need to enter different bits of information (such as the CURP, which you will have if you have a Mexican cellphone. I'm not sure how else you get one). When I returned after several months, of course I forgot everything I had learned but it wasn't hard to plug it in and get it running again, once I had figured out how to top up the account.

Price: It's advertised as 199 pesos for 2 weeks, but that appears to be based on light usage. I went through more than twice that amount in a week. So it would start getting expensive, compared to a cable or telephone company internet service, if you were going to use it on an ongoing basis.

Performance: It was pretty good. It does time out sometimes, but you just have to reconnect, hear the little jingle, and you're back in business. There were a couple of evenings though, where it would not connect at all. It might have been what technical people call a PEBKAC error (Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair). Or not.

Speed: Not fast enough for Skype. It would crash, even without video. I missed my little chats with the family and the dog.

Recharging the account: Your Banda Ancha stick essentially has its own phone number, so you can go to any shop that will recharge your Telcel account, give them the number and the amount you want to add to the account, and hope for the best. This worked for me the first time, when I did it at the Soriana supermarket checkout. The second time, at a small independent shop, it didn't work. Perhaps the account wasn't entered correctly.

My conclusion: I was glad to have it, and still think it's a good solution for occasional use, if you don't need enough bandwidth for video or skype. But I'm getting Cablemas internet service installed this month.


  1. A good friend spent five half-day "appointments waiting for Cablemas to arrive. Good luck! (I suggest asking for extension of service if they stand you up. Ask for a supervisor if they say no.)

    We would love to see you!


  2. Yes, Eric, I'm starting to get that "Cable Guy" vibe about this installation. Already rescheduled once.
    I hope to be back in Merida pretty soon - looking forward to seeing you and Mary!

  3. So glad for this post - thanks! I've been wondering about your luck with the stick, and holding out hope that it would be a viable option for us. But I would greatly miss those much needed skype fixes on longer trips. I also heard that it doesn't work with the lion os – if so, it wouldn't my little travelling computer anyway. :-(