Cruisers in Mexico primarily use two ways to get internet access. One is wifi, which is great — assuming you have access to it. That’s often not the case on a boat, however, which is why we and others have, for several years, been using modems from TelCel for our computers.
You stick the modem into a USB port, bang on a couple of keys, wait a bit, and if you’re in cell phone range, you get internet access. Usually the speeds are decent.
Unlike in the States, where rapacious phone companies try to force you into long-term contracts, in Mexico you generally buy the amount of data you’re going to use. You can ‘recharge’ over the internet or, if you can’t read the Spanish instructions, at any Oxxo, which is the ubiquitous Mexican version of 7-Eleven.
Recently, we were about to go to Oxxo to sign up for more data on our modem when inimitable cruiser Arjan Bok of the home-built San Francisco-based Lidgard 43 cat Rot Kat told us he had a better way — at least for owners of current model iPads.
"Just go to the main TelCel office, replace your U.S. SIM card with a Mexican SIM card, and your iPad becomes a ‘hot spot’ — meaning that up to five other nearby devices can wirelessly use it for internet access also."
So on Christmas Eve we did as Bok instructed. After installing the new SIM card — which the TelCel gal said she gave us for free because our hair was so long and unruly — we just went to our iPad Settings, switched on Hot Spot, and like that were getting internet on our iPhone and MacBook Pro, too. Yes, it was so easy that a publisher was able to do it.
The advantages a ‘hot spot’ has over the TelCel Banda Ancha modem are: 1) You don’t have to plug a modem into your device and wait for the start-up every time you want to get on the internet; and 2) You can use the iPad as a ‘hot spot’ to provide internet access for up to five other devices.
It’s also possible to use your recent-issue iPhone as a ‘hot spot’, but it has to be ‘jail broken’. That’s not the case with iPads, which aren’t shackled that way.
This text and the accompanying photos were sent from Mexico using our ‘hot spot’.