Despite Mexico’s reputation for horrendous, Slim-driven telecom service and policy, it’s far from the only country that struggles with providing rural cell phone access. According to the GSM (for Global System for Mobile Communications, the standard technology behind a 2G network) Association, a consortium of commercial mobile providers from all over the world, 1.6 billion people in rural parts of developing countries don’t have access to mobile networks. That’s why Bloom and his collaborators at Rhizomatica say that if you really want to make the benefits of cell phones available to the people who need them most, it’s not enough to democratize the hardware by making the phones themselves super cheap. You have to democratize the infrastructure, the network itself. And that’s a lot harder to do.
I have no idea how much I have to honor the people around rhizomatica. They are doing things right and making the world better. In germany, we only have problems bring the internet to the people (and with internet, I mean something with higher bandwith) and even this is not an easy task (special thanks to the politics and the nearby telecom monopol). The good part about our internet problem, the hardware is there. To build up a mobile phone network (that is stable and scalls well) is something different.
Super cool that I was able to read that article. Faith in humanity restored, you know :-).