Why Your Phone Calls Cost More in Mexico

This past Saturday the Wall Street Journal wrote a cover story called “The Secrets of the World’s Richest Man.” And no, it wasn’t about Bill Gates. It’s now estimated that the one-company Microsoft man is no longer a match for the greatest robber baron in history: Mexico’s Carlos Slim.

If you’ve been to Mexico, you’ve paid Carlos Slim whether you knew it or not, most notably any time you made a phone call. No, a phone call shouldn’t cost 45 cents a minute to the U.S. from there, but that’s what happens when there’s a monopoly. He also gets a piece of nearly every mobile phone call and Internet hookup. That’s just the start though.

“It’s hard to spend a day in Mexico and not put money in his pocket. The 67-year-old tycoon controls more than 200 companies — he says he’s “lost count” — in telecommunications, cigarettes, construction, mining, bicycles, soft-drinks, airlines, hotels, railways, banking and printing. In all, his companies account for more than a third of the total value of Mexico’s leading stock market index, while his fortune represents 7% of the country’s annual economic output. (At his height, John D. Rockefeller’s wealth was equal to 2.5% of U.S. gross domestic product.)”

But hey, you’ve got to admire someone who can become the world’s richest man by building and buying companies in a country that’s not a first-world economy, monopolies or not.

If you do get tired of overpaying for phone calls in Mexico, there is a way out. Sign up for a SkypeOut account and make your phone calls from Internet cafes. Nearly all of them have a headset with a microphone by each computer and you can phone away for pennies a minute.

  1. Paul

    Even using a local Mexican mobile while in the country can be costly. Mexico is divided into 9 regions by the mobile phone companies, Telcel and Telefonica being the biggest ones. If you go outside your zone then you pay in country roaming charges to make and receive calls e.g. buy your phone in Mexico city and travel to Acapulco and you’ll be roaming.

    Telcel is also part of America Movil, Mr. Slim’s giant phone company with over 108 million users – http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Am%C3%A9rica_M%C3%B3vil

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