April 15, 2005

Beach hut satellite Net access enticing idea for Mexico gig

I was having one of those ?run off and hide? days recently when it suddenly occurred to me. I could really do that! Why not? Why not, in fact, run off to Mexico?

I?d lived in Mexico long ago and had a great time. Wouldn?t it be wonderful to live on the beach in Quintana Roo, a few miles south of Cancun? Why not work in the United States, but live in Mexico. Hey, I work at home anyway, I don?t see my clients that often; why not work on the beach in Mexico? Make money at U.S. rates, and spend it at Mexican rates?

Now, I haven?t lived in Mexico since 1981, a lifetime ago it seems. But much has changed. It?s now possible, thanks to technological progress, to ?work? in one country and live in another. The most important thing, of course, is Internet access.

Unfortunately broadband access is not widely available in Mexico. A recent trip to the CyberCable Web site, www.cybercable.net.mx, showed me that my locations are limited: Broadband?s available in a few towns in Guanajuato, Jalisco and Tamaulipas … none of which are in my target area.

Mexico does have a national plan ? ?Mexico Connects? ? to bring broadband to the villages. But let?s face it, there are many places in Colorado that still don?t have broadband, so what?s the chance my beach hut would get it any time soon?

Well, there is a way to get ?near-broadband? right now ? satellite. It?s possible to connect through a two-way satellite connection throughout North America (um, yes, Mexico is in North America, contrary to common knowledge it seems).

It?s not fast ? it?s hard to call it broadband ? but it?s probably fast enough. And let?s face it, it doesn?t need to be really fast, not when you?re working on Mexican time. Things move more slowly in the sun.

So, with satellite Internet access (for around $100 per month, about twice what I pay now for Comcast broadband), I?d have a reasonably quick e-mail connection. Most of my business communications are through e-mail, so that?s covered. I need to connect to various Web sites via FTP. That?s covered. In fact much of my consulting work requires access to Web sites and download sites. Covered, covered.

Now, one way I make money is by phone consultations with companies trying to increase their traffic from the search engines. Thanks to my recent book, ?Search Engine Optimization for Dummies,? people call me or e-mail me out of the blue. I take a look at their sites, and point out problems and ?opportunities for improvement.? So I still need phone access.

When I lived in Mexico almost a quarter of a century ago, the phone situation was disastrous. It was incredibly expensive, and would take a lifetime to get a line installed.

It?s better now, but still I have a special situation. I want a phone number in the U.S. that would dial me in my little hut on the beach in Mexico.

One way to manage this would be with Vonage, the IP phone company, www.vonage.com. This is a very cool system through which your phone number travels with you. Hook up a little box to any broadband connection, anywhere in the world, and someone calling your number will ring through to you, and it costs the caller as if they were calling your number in the United States.

Is satellite fast enough for Vonage? I hope so. Vonage suggests speeds of 90kbps, while DirecWay, the Hughes satellite system, www.direcway.com, says it can provide 100kpbs upload and 1Mbps download. If it works, it would be perfect.

Anyone calling me in area code 303 would ring through to the beach, and the caller wouldn?t have a clue (except for the lapping-wave sounds). And I?d be able to make calls within Denver for free and the rest of the United States for my usual four cents a minute or whatever it is these days.
And if Vonage doesn?t work well? With the plethora of telecom options available these days, I probably can find some kind of forwarding service at around six cents a minute into Mexico. At $3.60 an hour, I can easily afford my phone consultations.

How about money? My phone-consultation clients often pay me via PayPal. It?s immediate, no waiting for a check and no maintaining a credit-card merchant account. I can talk to a prospective client at 8 a.m. and be paid by 9 a.m. and on the consultation. And yes, PayPal operates in Mexico.

Of course, I?ll need to set up a mail-forwarding service … plenty of them around, and Federal Express will deliver a pound of mail to the beach within three days for around $40. Hmmm, it?s starting to look really good. Now, if I can just figure out how to digitize my kids.

Peter Kent is an Internet marketing consultant in Denver. His most recent book is ?Search Engine Optimization for Dummies? (Wiley). He can be reached at pkent@ichannelservices.com.

I was having one of those ?run off and hide? days recently when it suddenly occurred to me. I could really do that! Why not? Why not, in fact, run off to Mexico?

I?d lived in Mexico long ago and had a great time. Wouldn?t it be wonderful to live on the beach in Quintana Roo, a few miles south of Cancun? Why not work in the United States, but live in Mexico. Hey, I work at home anyway, I don?t see my clients that often; why not work on the beach in Mexico? Make money at U.S. rates, and spend…

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