In indigenous communities like Nuyo, where almost every family has members who have migrated for run, low-cost phone calls are seen as an essential service
Until this month, Celia Prez could only affords a brief weekly call to her husband, Rubn Martnez, who left left their remote rural community in Mexico two years ago to find a job in the United States.
Prez, 25, was pregnant with their third child when Martnez headed north; he made it to New Jersey and regularly wires home fund from his building job, but the long separation and infrequent calls have been tough on everyone.
Now, a legal triumph by indigenous activists has cracked the monopoly are received by Mexicos powerful telephone tycoons including the worlds richest man, Carlos Slim and opened the door to new services which will slash the cost of communication.
Indigenous Communities Telecommunications( TIC) last month won a long battle with the government to become the worlds first not-for-profit group to be granted a mobile phone concession.
The social cooperative has licence to install and operate mobile phone networks in 356 marginalised municipalities in five of the countrys poorest states: Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla and Veracruz.
It entails couples like Prez and Martinez will be able to talk and text on their mobiles for a fraction of the cost currently charged by phone booth operators.
I am so excited, Ill be able to talk to my husband in private when I want, “and childrens” can have proper conversations with their papa. The calls are so much cheaper that it is like a gift, said Prez, clutching her mobile phone as she queued with excited neighbours to register for the new service.
Globally, 95% of the worlds population live in areas covered by mobile phone networks, according to the UN agency for information and communication technologies. But that leaves at least 400 million people without any mobile coverage, and the other 2 billion or so without access to affordable services.
In Mexico, as in the remainder the world, provision is best in towns and cities where dense populations can earn big earnings for telephone providers.
But rural communities have been marginalized by major telephone operators due to high infrastructure costs and low profit margins. Most are poor and indigenous populations, still relying on exorbitant landline services or even walkie-talkie radios.
Nuyo is a remote district in the fertile Mixteca region of Oaxaca, where about 5,000 habitants live in communities amid pine-forested mountains threaded with waterfalls.
The region is renowned for its organic coffee and honey, but households struggle to live off their create alone. Like Prez, almost every household has family members working in the US, Canada or cities within Mexico. Opposite the towns enforcing 17 th-century church, a Western Union office underlines the importance of remittances to the communitys survival.
A handful of public phone booths are hosted in the villages few shops. Until recently, Prez paid 15 peso ($ 0.80) a minute to bellow her husband. Once a month, she would travel two hours to Tlaxiaco the nearest town with mobile phone signal and 3G internet to send him photos of their young children.
It was communities like Nuyo which in 2011 inspired the activist Peter Bloom, a social entrepreneur and founder of NGO Rhizomatica, to petition the Federal Institute of Telecommunication.
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