If you are ever in the Mexican village of Villa Talea de Castro be sure to make a mobile phone call or three. This remote settlement has a population of 2,500 but has now set up its very own phone network, due to the fact that the country’s major networks don’t offer their services there.
The villagers pay $1.20 each per month, which works out at under 80p, to get access to the Red Celular de Talea, with a bit more charged for making calls across the border to the USA. It is a radio network service on which calls have to be kept to 5 minutes of duration in order to avoid overloading the new network.
The local community worked with a number of different not for profit organisations in order to bring a cheap mobile network to this part of the Oaxaca region.
A Traditional Network Financially Unviable
At the heart of the system is a 900mhz radio network and a piece of computer software which is capable of running the account billing, routing the calls and so forth. Israel Hernandez is a volunteer working on the network and he said that operating a traditional mobile phone network in the area is “financially unviable”.
At the moment 600 of the villagers have started to used the network, with more expected to join up over time. It has been reported that indigenous communities in the region are interested in joining the scheme.
News of this new rural network comes hot on the heels of reports of plans for an extensive telephone network in remote parts of Congo, in Africa.