Traveling Abroad in Mexico with a Verizon Phone
How to Use a Verizon Global Ready Phone Abroad
I will cover two bases one for your Global ready/Unlocked phone and the other for a personal Hotspot in your room or wherever your laptop will be this is only If you plain to purchase or have semi-free WiFi service from the Hotel.
First I will cover your smartphone:
The phone I used and test this with was mostly on my Razr Maxx from Motorola from the Verizon network. This can also worked with a Iphone 4S (You need to call Verizon First before traveling) please check out this thread to use your iPhone Unlocking Iphone for International Travel
Note: you only have to do this once per-iPhone after that it is global ready as long as you own it.
For a Android phone they are Global ready phones no need to call Verizon it is already ready. Popular Android phones that are Global ready ie. Razr, Razr Maxx,plus both HD versions also, The Samsung GS3 and GS4 are Global ready.
For those who don't know, All Verizon 4G phones carry a sim card inside. They can be replace with a non-U.S carrier sim.(Make sure you insert the sim in the right way or it will not work.) If you try to use a none Verizon sim in the U.S it will be blocked by The Verizon network.
Verizon runs off of both GSM and Cdma networks but while aboard you have a option to change these features.
By pressing the menu button click System Setting> More / Wireless & Networks>Mobile Networks>Network Mode.
Most important leave your phone in airplane mode once you reach your destination you can still use WiFi while your phone is in this mode. While in Mexico or any country aboard you will need a local sim from any carrier that is GSM. A prepaid sim works great, some/most company's will make you pay a fee for the sim and they will not provide any help with setting your phone up to there services.
Here are a two reasons why. #1 You did not buy it from them. #2 They really don't know your Verizon, AT&T and T-mobile phone setup, Yes it is different then the same phones they sell on their own network. So buying a prepaid sim card is your best option then paying roaming fees to your U.S carrier.
After you have you sim you purchase the Data amount you think you will need you I got 1GB which was way more then enough for 5 days. I was consistently using my phone checking in on Foursquare etc.. you will also receive a local phone number too. I used a telcel sim card In Cancun The Telcel company is located in the Hotel Zone # 2 Blvd Kukulcan Km 12.5 77500 Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Telcel is the best for 4g and internet service.
Mexico cellphone company's
http://www.telcel.com/portal/home.doTelcel: Excellent coverage, You'll have to present your passport. It took no time set up the data service. (You need to know their APN settings for data service I will cover this below. I used The Vonage app to Talk to friends and family in the U.S for free they were able to call and text me while using the Vonage app on their smart phone and toll free numbers work with Vonage but not with the Mexico number.(I will cover how to set up Vonage before your travel below). There are other cheaper company's but none with the same coverage as Telcel. It worked everywhere compared to the company below.
http://www.movistar.com.mx/Movistar: The underdog. Cheaper per-month. It is what The other phone used.I wanted to test both networks. The rate to call the USA from Mexico was only 2 pesos per minute (15 cents) but there are other options to call the U.S for free as stated above. Coverage is not great at all, but it wasn't to terrible either. It was really spotty while on the beach unlike Telcel. Traveling out of Cancun on a excursions there was next to none cellular service at all. A lot of the small towns didn't have Movistar coverage. You will end up roaming on a different network it will roam on the Telcel network instead yeah that's right I said Telcel.
Everyone wants to use their Android phone or iPhone for checking emails, translating Spanish and occasionally consulting Google Maps while lost. It is easy to setup data on your phone once you have a SIM card and money on the account. If you don't explicitly buy data you can still use data on your device, but it will be taken out of your account balance at a very expensive rate. The best thing to do is to sign up for a package deal. Movistar is $200 pesos ($15) for 1GB which expires in 1 month. If your stay is not long Telcel offers the same 1GB data service for 10 days.
To sign up for one of these packages after you have added money to your Movistar account you send a text message to a special number and money is automatically taken from your account balance to pay for your data package. For example, to sign up for 1GB over 30 days, a $200 peso plan, you send a text message to 100 that says "30 dias". $200 pesos will be removed from your Movistar account and you'll have a gig of data to use.
Telcel works in a different way but you don't not need to text any special number( if your purchase from their main Store) after you add money to your account. it is automatically applied only when you use any OXXO convenience store to refill your mobile service then you will need to text a special number which will be provided . I prefer going to Telcel company just in case of a language barrier.
Note: That all Telcel prepaid plans are currently referred to as "Amigo". Click Here for Telcel Rate Rates are in pesos not dollars
Your sim card good and can be reused up too 1 year after money runs out or time expires.
Lets get your internet service running :
After you have your sim and paid for data you need add the APN setting to your phone. I did have to add the APN to my Razr Maxx for 4G/3G coverage, As Same for the iPhone 4S to acquire the 3G data service. Insert your Telcel sim go to the one of the link below, click your phone software link. its free no need to pay a company which will take you minutes to do. If your phone is running any Android you click the android manual setup for Iphone the Iphone manual setup. Here is Telcel APN setting for Cancun, Mexico . Here is Movistar APN settings
Note: If you have a fully unlocked smartphone that is not locked to any specific carrier in the United States, Canada or any other country you may not have to enter the APN setting manually.
How to Call and Text to the U.S and Receive Calls and Text from the U.S while abroad at no Charge.
I have used Vonage for a while to me its the best. I have used on trips to Europe and it has always work without any problems.
When setting up Vonage you must do it before your trip abroad because it will asked for your current U.S number for authorization and activation this number will not change once you use a foreign sim since your account is linked to your U.S number not your carrier.
You can add money to your Vonage account if you are planing on calling land lines or a smartphone with out the Vonage app attached to that smartphone number. (I notice a few times I used Vonage from Mexico to call a mobile phone that did not have Vonage, I was able to call them for free, which was a bonus). You can Call, send SMS and MMS threw Vonage at no additional charge to any smartphone with the Vonage app.
There are other apps out there that do work the same way as Vonage. Viber, Call and Text any Viber user for free. Whatsapp a texting app only no calling is available (yet).
These apps will use the data service you have purchase while abroad or if you have WiFi enable on your phone if WiFi is available they will use the WiFi Data instead of Cellular Data. Almost every Hotel in Cancun makes you pay for WiFi. If you are at a hotel that offers free WiFi you are in luck but the service may be spotty in some areas in your hotel.
Note to reader: The Hotspot for Verizon Wireless did not work it will look for Verizon servers. I will update this article when I find a Hotspot for Telcel. I also know The Foxfi app did not work either even the paid version.
Thanks for reading !!
Enjoy your trip.