The indigenous peoples of southeastern Mexico will soon be able to operate their own community mobile networks, with the potential beneficiaries numbering close to 10,000.
The new mobile network concessions authorized by the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) are the fruit of the efforts of the Mixe people of Villa Talea de Castro in the northern sierra of the state of Oaxaca.
Tired of depending on a single land-line phone booth and the constant rejection by large telecommunication companies, the people of Talea decided to apply for a permit themselves to operate the connectivity services nobody else wanted to invest in and provide.
After the IFT announced its decision on Tuesday, the indigenous people not only from Talea but throughout the country will be able to operate their own mobile networks, delivering phone services, text messaging and broadband mobile internet connections to users in remote areas.
The radio-frequency spectrum granted to the people of Talea enables them to provide services not only to their own town but to 356 communities in five neighboring states.
Telecomunicaciones Indígenas Comunitarias, A.C., as the non-profit mobile operator is officially known, will be able to operate thanks to the first concession in Mexico intended for indigenous social use.
The social designation of the concession requires that the operator shall promote the values of the local Mixe, Mixtec and Zapotec people. Those values include the conservation and development of their languages, culture and knowledge, along with their traditions and internal regulations.
The use of the concession also implies that the communities must respect the principles of gender equality and allow women to be included in the original goals under which the concession was requested.
The coverage area of the concession has the potential to include 48 municipalities in Chiapas, 29 in Guerrero, 61 in Puebla and 54 in Veracruz, in addition to the 164 in Oaxaca.
All calls and text messaging within the network will be operated by Telecomunicaciones Indígenas Comunitarias at favorable fees for its users. When a connection to another national or international network is requested, the company will use an internet-based third party to provide the interconnectivity.
At present there are 16 communities capable of joining the network, which requires buying a 50,000-peso dish antenna with a coverage area of 1.5 to 2 kilometers in all directions.
Initially, the mobile network will be based on the 2G protocol but it has the potential to grow to 3G and 4G broadband capabilities. The installation of dish antennae will enable the communities to access satellite internet, although at extra cost.
Source: El Economista (sp)