Telecomunicaciones Indígenas Comunitarias A.C. — a nonprofit telcoms company operated by and for indigenous groups in Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla, and Veracruz — has received a license to operate cellular services in at least 356 municipalities. It’s the first time the Mexican telcoms regulator has given a operations license to an indigenous social group. TIC is the sequel to a network created by Rhizomatica, who installed internet-based telephony in remote communities serviced only by expensive payphones, lowering the cost of calls by as much as 98%.
Kurtis Heimerl enables entrepreneurs to build their own wireless networks. A postdoctoral student at the University of California at Berkeley, Heimerl packed a Linux computer, a 900 MHz power amplifier, and a 2G cellular-network antenna into a microwave-size box called Endaga CCN1. It costs a relatively modest sum of $6,000 and is simple to set up: Plug in power and Internet, mount the unit to a tree or pole, and voilà: connection. Endaga can connect up to 1,000 people within a six-mile radius.