Telmex workers install internet at a home in Todos Santos. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

In 2013, Mexico amended its Constitution to guarantee everyone in the country would have access to the internet. It might not be in their home, but they would have use of it at a school, library or other public facility. It hasn’t happened, but it’s a good goal.

Poverty and the lack of internet are tied together. People need a way to search for jobs. They need to study. It’s a global world no matter one’s socio-economic plight. The internet binds us together.

Stats from 2016 show that 46 percent of Mexicans lived in poverty. Internet at home is a luxury for most. In Mexico, 47 percent of households have internet. This compares to more than 90 percent in the United States.

Even if price weren’t an issue, infrastructure, or the lack of, makes it difficult for every household that wants internet to even get it. It takes more than a phone call to the service provider in Mexico.

A previous tenant where I’m staying had internet so I figured it would be no big deal to get hooked up. Wrong.

It required a trip to La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur, to start the process. It took a search on Google Earth to show the exact location of the house. This is because there are no street addresses in Todos Santos. My house has a name, not a number. At the time I would not have been able to figure it out. I was too new to the area. Fortunately, my sister was with me and could tell the Telmex dude where the house is.

They took my Mexico cell number, which I had gotten earlier that day from a different company, and my email. They said they’d contact me after they researched whether they could put a line into the house. It didn’t matter there had been one before. There are only so many internet lines allowed, they said.

Time went by. No contact. I finally called. They didn’t know. I waited. I called. They were coming. They didn’t call with a date when they said they would. I finally got someone on the line who spoke English. They weren’t coming. No lines available in Todos Santos.

I was suddenly wishing for AT&T despite all the issues I’ve had with them in the past.

My hot spot was only so good. It certainly didn’t allow for streaming. Using public Wi-Fi isn’t always the safest. Thankfully the neighbors allowed me to use their internet when I needed to do banking and other things where I wanted more security.

I started asking around about other providers. One wanted me to spend $500 on equipment that I would own forever and enter a year contract. Another was also out of my price range.

I was growing weary. How was I ever going to be able to write here without internet?

I called Telmex a few weeks later. They were coming that week. What? Yes, really, they said. The specified time passed, but I wasn’t surprised they weren’t punctual. I got a call and didn’t know what they are saying. Remember, they have the Google Earth exact location where I am. I finally figured out they are at the nearby market. I found two guys sitting in a Telmex truck and told them to follow me.

They hooked up the box where I wanted it. Then they had to go down the street to test something. Then they came back. I’m on.

With the service I get a landline telephone. It didn’t work. They didn’t know why. Give it a couple days they said. I did. It works. Now I keep getting calls for Señor Rodriquez. It doesn’t matter how many times I say he doesn’t live here. It’s a game at this point.

More than a month went by and I never got a bill. I was worried. It took some time to figure out how to find my account online. The bill was overdue. What a nice change from the U.S. No barrage of threatening nasty grams saying they would take me to collections or disconnect my service. I could pay online.

I still never get a notification. I have a reminder in my phone to pay the bill each month. Auto bill pay would be preferred, but this works – so does the internet. And it’s pretty cheap at less than $25 a month. That includes the landline that allows unlimited calls to the United States.

Now, if only the government would uphold that constitutional mandate where every Mexican has access to the internet.

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