TelCel’s New Sin Frontera Plan

Reading Dean asked me about what I’m doing for cell service in the US and Mexico as he is going to be living in Mexico and wants to avoid having both a US and Mexican phone.

Enter TelCel’s brand new “Sin Frontera” plan that lets you use a phone with a TelCel SIM card in Mexico, the US, and Canada at the same rate as if you were in Mexico, as long as you’re on a roaming partner network. In the US, that’s T-Mobile. I’m not sure about in Canada, but it’s got to be one of the big ones. Right now, I’m actually on AT&T and still using up my pesos as though I was back in Mazatlán — that’s for voice, text, and data! You can also call between the three countries at the same rates. I made one call to Canada at three pesos per minute, or 0.23CAD. A long distance call with SaskTel costs me 0.35CAD… Yes, I can call Canada more cheaply from Mexico than I can call Quebec from Saskatchewan!

This plan is brand new, there isn’t much information about it yet online, and not all the TelCel employees are familiar with the details so I feel a bit like a guinea pig.

Now, how does one get onto that Sin Frontera plan?

In my case, I started with an unlocked iPhone. SaskTel gave me the phone back in February of ’14 when I switched to them from Verizon. I paid about $70 to unlock it before leaving for Mexico the first time. This means I can switch out the SIM card and use one from any carrier I want. What I’ve been doing is getting an AT&T Go plan SIM when traveling in the US, and a TelCel SIM in Mexico. That means three different numbers, two of which change frequently since I would get a new SIM for every trip. But at least I’m using the same phone. So Dean, if you love your phone, find out if you can unlock it and then you can use it anywhere.

When I got to Hermosillo last fall and went into a TelCel store, I asked for a new Amigo SIM card. Amigo is TelCel’s pay-as-you-go plan that is very popular. There, I was advised that for a few pesos more (something ridiculous like 50 pesos), my account could be set up with Sin Frontera. That’s it!

The piecemeal rates for an Amigo Sin Frontera plan are:

3 pesos, per minute/MB/text. Which is dismal if you use your phone regularly, I know, but you can get a number of plans at better rates. I’m going to check out the WiFi in Moab tonight and if it’s unacceptable, I’ll get a 3GB package for my phone so I can use it as a hot spot. That will be cheaper than getting an AT&T SIM card and data plan for my current needs. If I needed more data, then I might have considered going with the unlimited AT&T plan.

Now, this pay-as-you go plan is good for light users. I basically only use it to have data on the go so I can look up things. Yesterday, I was able to research hotels and use Gas Buddy, but I wouldn’t have started watching YouTube! It also gives me piece of mind that I can call out if I have an emergency.

If you are in Mexico full-time, then you’ll want to consider a proper monthly phone plan with much better packages. These plans can also include Sin Frontera. I was going to upgrade my iPhone when I got home, but now that I’m not spending the summer at Haven and firmly intend to move to Mexico next spring, I’m going to wait and get a better deal in Mérida.

I’m going to keep my current TelCel line active for a bit because it’ll be nice to be able to use my phone if I do any runs into Montana this summer before leaving for Europe. And I am also considering considering canceling SaskTel altogether if my TelCel SIM works on their network — but only as I’m heading out to Europe. No sense paying them $80 a month for the next nine months to keep a plan I won’t need anymore. There are lots of possibilities to consider.

The only issue with using TelCel as my main phone while still living in Canada or US is, of course, having a Mexican phone number. But if you’re primarily living in Mexico, then a phone plan that you can use at no extra charge the odd time you’re in the US or Canada makes perfect sense and is the option I will be going with.

I don’t believe that Movistar, TelCel’s competitor, has anything similar to Sin Frontera.

Dean, I have no idea if any of this made sense to you. Please drop me another comment if there’s anything else you need explained. 🙂

10 thoughts on “TelCel’s New Sin Frontera Plan

  1. Wow! Um….mercy. A bit lost, yes, I admit. Unlocked? That was new to me so I Googled it and came up with,

    “The HTC Thunderbolt has only one GSM style frequency it can connect to. This is the 700 MHz (band 13) frequency. T-Mobile doesn’t operate their GSM network on that frequency. The CDMA radios in the HTC Thunderbolt is not compatible with the GSM network used by T-Mobile. Verizon Wireless also doesn’t unlock the CDMA portion of their phones. Therefore the HTC Thunderbolt can’t be used on T-Mobile. The SIM is encoded only for Verizon. The phone will lock itself permanently if any other SIM is inserted. This is a hardware feature so it’s extremely hard to bypass… Impossible for a normal user.”

    Which scares the bejesus out of me (not that I really understand it). I won’t go touching it now. Just hoped I didn’t have to go to the expense of a new phone when this one is fine and I love it. So I am lost as ever, and thank you soooooo much at the same time.

    And I’m a bit in love?

    • In layman’s terms, unlocking simply means that a phone can by be used by any carrier. I believe that a new law was passed in the US that forbids ISPs from denying unlocking, but they can charge a fee. So I’d call Verizon and ask about unlocking the phone and how much it would cost.

  2. I need to bookmark this posting so I can use it as an example when people ask me why I do not have a cell phone.

    I understand almost nothing you said and then Dean’s Google quote was even less intelligible. It may be a cell phone world but I am not living in it!

  3. In Canada they can no longer charge for unlocking your cell phone as of December 2017. Ask and they will covert it. No help for you and me who already paid for this.
    Secondly it seems that Telcel has changed it plans again to compete. Yesterday I bought in Porto Murilus a Telcel sim card for $170 mx and a plan for $200 mx. so now i have a Mexican phone number and a plan (SL200)which gives me Unlimited Text and Unlimited Talk with 1500 MB (1.5G) of Data for 33 days. About $26 Canadian.

    • Yes, I know that unlocking is now mandatory. The fee I paid is low on my list of annoyances with CDN telecom. 😀

      TelCel’s plans are always changing. I use the SL200 plan too as it’s the best value for me since TelCel is always giving me free bandwidth and other perks. So that’s about 13.50CAD a month. Last time I looked at a couple of the big companies in Canada, to get anywhere near the SL200 plan, you were paying hundreds in Canada! Perks you don’t mention about TelCel’s plans is that you can call the US and Canada at no extra charge AND use the plan in those countries as if you were in Mexico for a period of about 30 days. When I landed in Canada last year for only about six weeks, I used my SL200 plan rather than paying hundreds to Bell or SaskTel for service for that time and then I used the plan while travelling through the US on my way to Mexico. I call Canada and the US from Mexico with my plan and it truly is unlimited calls, even if I talk for hours! Same thing with my landline, by the way!

      Moreover, you not only get the 1.5G of data, but you also get additional data to use Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp. Really, there is no comparison in Canada and I can’t imagine them ever catching up because they are so far behind and the populace is too ignorant and complacent to demand change.

  4. You’ll get know arguments from me on that. Travelling around Europe the US and Mexico you can see Canada isn’t going to change, like you not enough are complaining.
    Oh yah, Forgot to mention to the iPhone users out there. The OXXO store is a good resource to convert but beware they are not very helpful if you have issues installing the new sim card and plan. They are not trained to handle any issues. Cutting it short we had issues and panic attacks, there are no refunds. So the iPhone wants to verify that the owner is changing the sim card and needs to connect to iCloud/iTunes to get your user name and password. “IN ORDER TO DO THIS YOU NEED A WiFi CONNECTION” to continue on and complete the installation.
    I want to give a heads up to the young man in Puerto Morelos at a cell phone repair shop who helped us with this final step.

    • My advice to folks is that it is always worth it to go to a proper TelCel customer service centre (Centro de Atención a Clientes) to set up a SIM card, especially if your Spanish isn’t great AND you’re not tech savvy. They can usually rustle up someone with a modicum of English and worst case, they know what to do and you can trust them to get you there.

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