A new kind of telecom revolution is happening in some parts of the world like rural Mexico where people are setting up their own mobile networks. This has become necessary since telecom service providers aren’t interested in setting up their services due to commercial non-viability. The company which helps communities set up such networks is Rhizomatica. Rhizomatica states this in their website:
Our overall goal is to increase access to mobile telecommunications and associated services and benefits by creating community-owned and operated micro-telecommunications enterprises in rural Oaxaca, Mexico.
Thanks to a variety of open-source efforts developed in the last few years (OpenBTS, OpenBSC, Asterisk, etc), it has become technologically and economically feasible for a community or an individual to provide carrier-grade cellular service to thousands of people.
Due to efforts like these, the residents are able to communicate better for business and contact their loved ones at economical rates. While call rates to U.S. from public landlines cost to the tune of $1 per minute, calls through Rhizomatica networks cost 2 pennies! It must be noted that communities invest their own money for setting up these kind of networks. According to a Wired report, “The communities pay 120,000 pesos ($8,000 dollars) upfront for the equipment and installation, about one-sixth of what the commercial provider Movistar charges for a similar rural installation”. Power related issues are a major road-block for these network operations as no power would mean no network.
It is certainly heartening to see such efforts wherein communities just don’t wait for a service provider to come in and set shop, but take initiatives to solve communication problems.