Mobile Phone Co-Ops Are Transforming Mexico's Rural Indigenous Communities
The town high in the mountains of Oaxaca state called Villa Talea de Castro, now has a mobile phone network – but it’s not because of Carlos Slim’s Telcel or any other cellular service provider. (rayuelavalpo)
Until this month, Celia Pérez could only afford a brief weekly call to her husband, Rubén Martínez, who left left their remote rural community in Mexico two years ago to find a job in the United States.
Pérez, 25, was pregnant with their third child when Martínez headed north; he made it to New Jersey and regularly wires home money from his construction job, but the long separation and infrequent calls have been tough on everyone.
Now, a legal triumph by indigenous activists has cracked the monopoly enjoyed by Mexico’s powerful telephone magnates – including the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim – and opened the door to new services which will slash the cost of communication.
Indigenous Communities Telecommunications (TIC) last month won a long battle with the government to become the world’s first not-for-profit group to be granted a mobile phone concession.
The social cooperative has license to install and operate mobile phone networks in 356 marginalized municipalities in five of the country’s poorest states: Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla and Veracruz.
It means couples like Pérez and Martinez will be able to talk and text on their mobiles for a fraction of the cost currently charged by phone booth operators.
Read the rest at The Guardian
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