New York Magazine: The Pirate Cell Towers of Rural Mexico

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I wrote for the “Developing” series at New York Magazine, which looks at tech in a global context. This story was inspired by my time researching in Oaxaca in 2014-15. It’s always fun to bring an old interest into my current reporting.

“Talea de Castro is a four-hour drive through winding mountain roads from the capital of Oaxaca, Mexico. In 2013, the indigenous Zapotec town launched Mexico’s first nonprofit, community-run cell-phone network. Now, Indigenous Community Telecommunications (TIC for its initials in Spanish) provides low-cost cell-phone service to more than 3,400 users in underserved areas across Oaxaca.

Commercial cell-phone companies like Telcel and Movistar had declined requests to extend service in this mountainous area known as the Sierra Norte. Talea de Castro, along with other nearby towns, petitioned the federal government for the right to use the radio frequency for their own cell network.

Since then, TIC has expanded to 16 other Oaxacan communities, beat a costly lawsuit filed by the Mexican government, and is planning to launch in four more states. Communities that were overlooked by telecommunications companies can now access health services and employment, and talk to far-off family members.”

Read the full article here.