La Plaza

News from Latin America and the Caribbean

« Previous | La Plaza Home | Next »

Mexico may cut off 30 million cellphones under new registration law

Cell phone mexicoAn estimated 30 million cellphone users in Mexico — including this reporter — may see their service cut Saturday if the government goes through with a new law that requires cellphones to be registered with the user's identity, Reuters reports.

Unlike most cellphone services in the United States, where contracts are usually signed between provider and customer, getting a cellphone line in Mexico requires nothing more than the cash. The Senate passed the cellphone registration law a year ago to combat organized crime, the idea being that if every cellphone is registered with the identity of its owner, it would help cut down extortion and kidnappings carried out from anonymous lines.

Providers, including behemoth America Movil, which operates as Telcel in Mexico and is owned by the "world's richest man," Carlos Slim, have been zapping out text messages to their customers. "Don't get disconnected!" said one that popped up on my tiny Nokia recently. "Remember that by law you must register your cell line before April 10, 2010."

Customers are directed to a government website (currently not loading properly) or to send the required information in a text reply. Blame procrastination and, for some Mexicans, privacy concerns for the high number of phone still to be registered. Crime bosses may also be reluctant to register.

Providers and some lawmakers have appealed to the Senate to extend the deadline on implementing the law. But officials say they're not budging. 

— Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo credit:

Comments () | Archives (10)

The comments to this entry are closed.

This is also a big problem for the many seniors / american retirees in mexico, i hope the us government recommends mexico grant the extension they are considering.


Many ppl didn't registered and try to do it 1 week before deadline so the system obiously will be ovearload! And the CURP you can find it at the internet not only goverment offices, the register could have been made through internet too and don't tell me ppl doesnt have acces to it because if they can get an email, hi5, facebook, bebo, twitter and so other stuff, they could have entered the website to inform themnselves.. Besides this so called "law" has been announced 1 year ago, and there were tv spots, radio spots as well, where they told ppl to register so everybody knew it that's not an excuse to register so lately, and the fact the senators rejected to pospone the registry , in my opinion, its ok cause we mexicans need to be more disciplined in order to deman and get this country out of where it is, crime is everywere yes but the new generation needs to get active guys!! Don't think this is another way to control us- that yeah, it might be - but our information is everywhere!: bank, telephone, supermarkets, newspaper, credit cards, FACebook! then, why so afraid? this paulette story is way an example of how can they manipulate people, don't let them please, quit the gossips.

Wonder if it will work.
Go Mexico for trying something... anything to combat their criminal activity.
It is pretty bad down there if this is happening!

Silly law, since if foreigners are allowed to use their phones while in Mexico, a Mexican can then buy a cash only, non registered phone at a US Walmart store ansd bring it in to use.

Why assume 30 million USERS may lose service? I'm probably extreme in managing to lose or misplace at least five cell phones over the last ten years meaning there are at least four numbers that will not be registered. Add too, that when people upgrade to a better phone, they usually don't bother carrying over the number, but just buy a new kit. And, with cheap phones, they're treated as disposable products: you're ex-boyfriend still calls? Get a new phone. Move to a new town? Rather than discontinue the old service, you just buy a new cheap TelCel kit with a local number. Or if the phone breaks, people don't change the chip, they just get a new phone.

It's a joke. Everyone is lined up at the one TelCel building in town today, after
the local Gringo press suggested TelCel they would handle other brands as well.
This is not true. We have a TelCel and Movistar. They said NO to the movistar phone (there s no Movistar service center in town... the local tiendas who sell phone minutes don't know how to key in the info, either).

My TelCel phone was also rejected. They said it wasn't TelCel. Excuse me?
It says telcel, when you turn it on...
and that's where I buy my minutes... but today, strangely, it was not TelCel.

So, we have 2 phones which are basically trash now. Movistar's system is so overwhelmed that it cannot accept any incoming texts. I knew there would be a crush, but I had no idea their systems would be so completely inadequate.
(I guess I have not been in Mexico long enough!)

We spoke to about 8 or 9 Mexicans today; none of them had any idea about this 'registration' deadline.

The whole thing is rather stupid.

steve roche
San Miguel de Allende

Reply by text? Doesn't it seem just a little bit possible that people not wanting to be identified might just provide slightly inaccurate information to the cell phone providers?

Wow, I"M shocked that this is not in place..This will help alot with decreasing crime..

"Blame procrastination and, for some Mexicans, privacy concerns for the high number of phone still to be registered. "

Or blame the fact that many did not even know about this requirement until just recently.

"Providers [...] have been zapping out text messages to their customers."

Yeah, since just last week. Because last week was Semana Santa (the week before Easter), MANY government offices were closed. Everyone who needs to register a cell phone has to have a federal ID number called a CURP, and a CURP has to be obtained from a specific government office. The most frustrating part is that this office, like many bureaucratic offices here, is only open during the work week, and only until very early afternoon (the one in Guadalajara, the second largest city in the country, is only open M-F, 8 AM to 1 PM). That is ridiculously inconvenient for people that work. At my local CURP office this week, they were handing out numbers to people in line to get a CURP, and if you didn't show up by 10 AM, you were not going to get a number. No number, no admission to the office to get your CURP that day.

Making the deadline a week after Easter, in what is a very Catholic country, was a real stroke of idiocy.

What about the 30 million illegals here? Do they have to register their phones? May not be a bad idea.


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

Recent News
Introducing World Now |  September 23, 2011, 8:48 am »
'Twitter terrorists' freed in Mexico, charges dropped |  September 21, 2011, 7:03 pm »
Freedom likely for Mexico's 'Twitter Terrorists' |  September 21, 2011, 11:00 am »



About the Reporters
Ken Ellingwood
Daniel Hernandez
Efrain Hernandez Jr.
Chris Kraul
Richard Marosi
Tracy Wilkinson