In the time since Loreto Bay was born there have been massive changes to the area. One thing that hasn’t changed much in that time is the lack of quality Internet service. There are two major components that make for good service: speed and reliability. One without the other still makes for bad service. Sure it could be very fast, but that doesn’t do much good if it goes out regularly.
I’ll cover two things in this blog. First, we’ll try to determine what speed you need to do the things you desire. Then we’ll look at the technology available right now and two technologies that are coming in the near future.
How Much Speed Do You Need?
The answer to the speed question requires knowing how you (and others in your casa) are going to use the Internet. Do you only check email once or twice a day? Do you surf the Web? Do you spend time on social media? Do you use any VOIP service for phone calls? Do you make video calls with Zoom, Facetime, Skype, Facebook, etc? Are you participating in online learning? Is someone working from home? Do you watch streaming video? If you watch streaming video, is it HD or 4K? Do you participate in online gaming? These questions don’t cover all usage, but they give you some questions to answer that will help determine the speed you need.
Of course you also need to factor in how many are doing any of these at the same time. If two people are doing something, you’ll need twice the speed for them to both be happy. I’ll suggest you read the article How much internet speed do you really need? for a good breakdown of what is needed for various tasks. For a two person household with only minimal usage, you’ll find that even 10 Mbps is the bare minimum. Those doing anything with video will likely need 20 Mbps to survive. In a household where two people are trying to do things seamlessly, 50 Mbps is a more realistic minimum. Now keep all those speeds in mind as we talk about what is available today and what is coming soon.
What Service Options Are Available Now and in Future?
Before we talk about what we have and what we will soon have, we need to talk about the different technologies and what they bring. For that I recommend you read Cable, fiber, DSL and more: The different types of internet services and how they work as it discusses a wide range of technologies. Some of them are available in Loreto Bay and some are not.
Telmex Fixed Wireless
The only reasonably priced service today is a fixed wireless system delivered by Telmex. With our current system, the signal is delivered to the main tower in Nopolo and then broadcast wirelessly to a small antenna on your roof. Unfortunately the one tower has to support a lot of homes so the speed is capped. Lucky early adopters get 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds. I was one of the lucky ones until I needed a cable repaired. After that repair, I got the same 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds as most customers.
Keep in mind those are the maximum speeds and must be shared among all devices using Internet in your casa. If you use a Windows computer, each month you’ll have updates to download and install. It is not uncommon for the download part of the updates to take two hours (per computer). During that time, you can’t do anything else on the Internet. Yes, Mac users have updates as well. The apps on your phones and tablets update too. In short, the speeds we have today are horribly slow for even the most basic users.
For this service, the price for most is 600 pesos a month. Note that it also includes a phone line that can call Mexico, US and Canada for free.
Starlink Satellite Service
Most of you have probably at least heard the name Elon Musk and one of his many ventures is to provide satellite Internet to the world. It is scheduled to be available in Loreto before the end of 2021. If this interests you, I encourage you to read Starlink explained: What to know about Elon Musk’s satellite internet venture.
Let’s first talk about pricing. You will pay $499 as an initial cost for the satellite dish and router that you’ll need to install. After that, your monthly cost is $99 plus taxes and fees. That’s far more expensive than the current Telmex fixed wireless offering though it does bring higher speeds.
Starlink claims the data speeds will vary from 50 to 150 Mbps with latency of 20 to 40 milliseconds. According to an Elon Musk tweet (see below), the speed will increase to 300 Mbps with a latency of 20 milliseconds later in 2021. So theoretically Loreto Bay can get those speeds when the service becomes available. We won’t know the exact service available until someone actually has it installed for testing.
Speed will double to ~300Mb/s & latency will drop to ~20ms later this year
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 22, 2021
If you want to be one of the first to get Starlink, you can sign up now with a $99 refundable deposit. While it is probably not the best option, putting down a deposit can be a way to hedge your bets if fiber optic doesn’t become available.
Telmex Fiber Optic
The Loreto Bay HOA has been working with Telmex to bring fiber optic service to the neighborhood. Once this is available, it will provide the best service for the best price. As the plans for installation are still being discussed, an exact timeframe is unknown. My educated guess says that it will be available to homes that sign up before the end of 2021. If all goes well, maybe it can happen long before the end of 2021.
Fiber optic is the holy grail as it is directly wired to your home and can deliver the highest available speeds. Below I’ll quote the packages and prices from the Telmex Web site. Note that I’ve automatically translated the site into English. There are versions without a streaming video service as well as packages that include either Netflix or Disney+.
The graphic below shows the prices for service without Netflix or Disney+. Keep in mind the current price for Telmex fixed wireless service is 600 pesos a month. With the packages below, you can get 150 Mbps for 599 pesos a month. That’s a 30X increase in speed! Note that all packages include at least one phone line as well as some other services.
If you want Netflix service along with Telmex, the prices are shown below. These cost a bit more because they give you all of that Netflix content. But you can still get 30 Mbps service (with Netflix) for about the same price as the current fixed wireless service. Those who want even more speed, can get it!
Like the video content on Disney+ better than Netflix? Those packages are shown below and tend to cost a little less than the Netflix plans.
As of this writing, more than 1/3 of the homes in Loreto Bay have signed up to have fiber optic installed. If your home has not signed up, I’d suggest you reach out to the Master Rep of your subregime to see if you can be added to the list. I’ve linked the page listing master reps and it is a private page only available to homeowners registered on the HOA site. There will be an install cost that has yet to be determined. We know the minimum install cost will be $125 and could be several hundred in some cases. While no maximum has been clearly stated, it likely won’t be over $500 and those are for the most extreme cases.
Even if you personally are not in Loreto Bay often, better Internet service is much desired by renters and potential home buyers. They will even pay more for a casa with high speeds! So if you have any Internet service in your casa now, upgrading it to fiber optic is the way to go.
Getting better service to your casa is the first step. After you have fast service in the house, you’ll want to have it available everywhere in your house. I’ll discuss ways to improve the coverage in my next post. The last part of the series will be a discussion of ways to make your home “smart” with Internet-enabled devices. Once you have them, you won’t know how you lived without them!