Just under half the world’s population can be considered internet users but in the small border town of Tziscao, Chiapas, it’s fewer than 1%.
For Mexico as a whole 48 of every 100 inhabitants have hardwired broadband access, but in the poorest states the percentage drops significantly.
Chiapas had the poorest coverage as of last year with 19 subscribers per 100 inhabitants, followed by Oaxaca with 21, Tabasco 22, Campeche 26, Hidalgo 27 and Guerrero 29.
But for Tziscao, located in the municipality of La Trinitaria on the Guatemala border, fewer than 1% of the population owns a computer or has wired internet access, despite the fact that tourism is its economic mainstay.
Internet access isn’t the only thing lacking: only 6% have a mobile phone and none of the town’s homes have piped water, according to data compiled by the national statistics institute.
The few among the town’s 400 families that are connected to the internet rely not on Mexican firms but on the Guatemala-based mobile operator Tigo.
Mario Jiménez Hernández, who operates one of the town’s mototaxis, or motorcycle taxi, is a loyal Tigo customer.
He pays the equivalent of US $2.70 for phone and internet for a week. Jiménez, who is also a secondary school student, told the newspaper El Universal that for him, the internet is not a luxury but a necessity.
Some users of the wired internet access provided by Mexico’s Telmex have opted to broadcast their own signals via wifi-enabled antennas, offering coverage in a radius of several kilometers.
A local entrepreneur and computer systems graduate is attempting to offer the people of Tziscao a metered internet service but growth in the business has been slow. So far the budding internet service provider has no more than 10 subscribers, most of them owners of cabins and small hotels that cater to domestic and foreign tourists.
For most of town’s students, though, the service is way too expensive.
Those like Jiménez do have free internet access at the local health clinic. Seated on rocks across the street from the medical facility, up to 10 at a time can access the broadband service provided by the Punto México Conectado federal program.
Wednesday was Internet Day in Mexico and many other countries, but not many celebrated the occasion in Tziscao, Chiapas.
Source: El Universal (sp)