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Reclaiming the airwaves: building autonomous cell phone networks for rural Indigenous communities in Oaxaca

by Rhizomatica

Reclaiming the airwaves: building autonomous cell phone networks for rural Indigenous communities in Oaxaca
Think that only billion dollar companies have the ability to set up cell phone networks? Some rural communities in Oaxaca now have access to international and local cell phone networks for as little as $3 a month, using a new type of community frequency use permit, open source software and low-cost GSM infrastructure.
According to the International Telecommunication Union, 2-3 billion people around the world lack affordable mobile telephone services. Many rural markets, especially in the developing world, are left untouched by cellular development due to a lack of profitability in these areas. But a new regulatory licence in Mexico is allowing communities to develop their own cell phone networks to serve their own needs.

Peter Bloom builds these networks and pushed for the legislation that allows them with his organization, Rhizomatica. So far, they have built 18 autonomous cell phone networks for Indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Mexico. These networks are organized as cooperatives, and provide local cellular service and inexpensive international calls for their members.

"Rhizomatica is about facilitating rural communities' access to affordable communications by helping them build and manage their own networks", says Peter Bloom, general coordinator of Rhizomatica.
Peter Bloom, a Shuttleworth Foundation fellow, will be visiting Toronto to make a keynote address on May 1 at 12:30pm at the Union for Democratic Communications conference "Circuits of Struggle".
Peter Bloom's presentation with Loreto Bravo will be fre and open to the public. information: and

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