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As Mexico Lauds Telecom Reform, Rural Poor Search for a Connection

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October 27, 2016

After big cellular companies wouldn't bring their service to this small town, they created a network of their own. Several towns throughout Mexico have community-run cellphone service. (AJ+)

Life is tough in Santa Cruz Itundujia in the mountains of Oaxaca state and it is made even harder here and in other isolated towns throughout Mexico's rugged interior by a lack of connectivity that complicates everything from education to getting help in medical emergencies.

Tales abound among the municipality's more than 10,000 residents of daily obstacles thrown up by having no phones. The woman who had to walk miles to report that her husband had been shot; the car crash victims who wait hours for assistance, the women who give birth before reaching hospital.

In these remote indigenous hills, President Enrique Pena Nieto's telecommunications reform, credited with slashing prices for many Mexicans and boosting competition against billionaire Carlos Slim's company America Movil, is coming up short.

"In an emergency situation, whether it is because of accidents or if there is an emergency in the municipality, there is no way of communicating," said Eric Cruz, 37, the mayor of the town nestled in the Sierra Sur mountains, some six hours from Oaxaca's state capital.

"As a result, the number of deaths goes up."

Almost a third of Mexico's population is estimated to live with no mobile subscription, according to global wireless industry body GSMA, meaning Latin America's second largest economy has a lower percentage of cell phone users than countries like Argentina, Uruguay and even Nicaragua.

Read the rest at ETTelecom

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