What’s happening with Mexico’s internet outage?

January 14, 2022, 7:23 PM UTC

Large parts of central Mexico have been experiencing intermittent internet service and sudden outages since at least Dec. 28.

Connection troubles seem to be primarily affecting users of the internet service Infinitum, which is owned and operated by Telmex, one of Mexico’s largest telecommunications companies. Telmex originally reported that outages were limited to the Mexico City metropolitan area, but Infinitum users as far as the city of Mérida, around 600 miles from Mexico City, also experienced outages.

In a statement on Jan. 5, Telmex announced that the internet outages were due to two fiber optic outages in Mexico and in the U.S. One failure happened in Texas, near the Mexican border, while the other outage occurred in the state of Sinaloa in western Mexico.

The statement revealed that the outages had afflicted 15 states across Mexico. Telmex claims that the fiber optic cut was caused by a third, unnamed party, and that the company is preparing to “file complaints against attacks on its communication lines.”

Telmex reported that it was able to fix the problem in less than two hours. However, reports of outages continued to circulate around the country. Telmex had received 4,762 user complaints by noon on Jan. 5, of which 98% were in reference to connectivity issues, Noroeste reports.

Almost two weeks after having fixed the fiber optic outages, user issues remain, and #telmex continues to trend on Twitter:

“Two days without Infinitum mail, unable to access emails and documents, seeing the same thing happen to thousands of people. Telmex service is frankly a disaster,” one Twitter user posted on Jan. 13.

“@telmex when will the mail problem be resolved???” another tweeted. “We haven’t been able to work for days!!!”

Telmex did not respond to Fortune’s request for comment.

The volume of connectivity issues with Infinitum’s services were as much as 10 times higher than normal on the morning of Jan. 14, according to online service status platform Downdetector. Sixty-three percent of reported issues were tied to internet troubles, while 35% of users were unable to access their email. As of Jan. 14, the majority of internet outage complaints were concentrated in major cities including Mexico City, Mérida, Guadalajara, and Monterrey.

Downdetector found that several other online services had failed at different points during the outage, including WhatsApp, Instagram, and Twitter. Several users also reported being unable to access certain online banking apps, including Santander and BBVA.

Slow internet speeds and spotty coverage have been a consistent issue for Mexican online users. A 2021 survey conducted by Statista and an association of Mexican telecommunications agencies found that 69.2% of Mexican users experienced slow internet speeds, while 25.8% frequently had to cope with sudden connection breaks.

Mexico ranked 78th in the world for fastest internet speeds in a study by World Population Review. Global average broadband speeds in 2021 were 72.67Mbps; however, Mexico’s average speeds stood at 54.88Mbps.

The number of internet users in Mexico is rising rapidly. While only 5% of Mexicans were regular internet users in 2000, that number has skyrocketed to 72% in 2020, according to the World Bank. But this large number of new users is straining internet infrastructure that was already unreliable. 

In 2013, the Mexican government declared internet access a human right, requiring local governments to facilitate connectivity for segments of the population unable to afford it. This included obligations to construct public infrastructure that could support fast and reliable internet service.

Declaring internet access as a basic human right was intended as a measure to reduce poverty and bring more people into the workforce. However, poor planning since this announcement has slowed the execution of the government’s plan.

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