Finally some news

First off, an apology to folks who have supported us and continue to follow our work for not being more steady with the posts on the site. Lots has happened and we have less and less time to keep the site and social media updated. We are excited about a whole bunch of stuff that has happened recently.

As of last week, Rhizomatica operates 3 cellular networks in the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca and two additional networks in the Chinantla area of Oaxaca in conjunction with a local partner. With this 5 networks we should be connection our 1,000th customer any day now. We are planning a more than dozen installations in Oaxaca and Puebla before year’s end. We have also received lots of interest from other countries in Latin America who are interested in replicating our model.

But the biggest news is that we finally have possession of our concession papers. The concession was never really in doubt, but it took forever to actually be able to go and pick up the piece of paper from the government. Officially, we are allowed to work in 5 Mexican states (Oaxaca, Puebla, Veracruz, Tlaxcala and Guerrero) in the 850mHz band for the next two years. We are also waiting for the secondary Telecom laws to be finalized, at which point we will request a more permanent concession, allowed under the new law.

Continuing on the legal front, but at the international level, we had the good fortune to attend the recent World Telecommunication Development Conference in Dubai and continue our collaborative efforts with the Mexican government to find innovative solutions for how to connect rural and remote populations. We have been working on the proposal that became Recommendation 19 of the ITU-D on Telecommunications for rural and remote areas for some months now, shepherding it through the various committees and regional meetings. Now that it has finally passed, we’d like to explain a bit more about it, and how it could be useful.

The purpose of the recommendation is to recognize the lack of robust policies to connect rural and remote populations, and try to crystallize some of the positive experiences from around the world that use emerging technologies to provide broadband and other telecommunications to decrease costs, increase range and capacity and that make connecting rural areas a feasible option.

We would like to highlight two aspects that the resolution deals with, amongst many. First, the use of new spectrum access approaches that recognize that rural and remote areas have huge amounts of unused spectrum available. However, there are many regulatory bottlenecks to overcome for locals to be able to run their own services.

Second, telecommunication/ICT services and applications can be provided by small and medium enterprises, local governments, non-governmental organizations using appropriate business models and the need to develop local technical expertise and adoption capacity to operate such services as well as maintenance and operation programs in order to keep the infrastructure and associated equipment in good working condition.

For us, these two aspects are the root cause of why so many places on earth are not connected: none of the traditional providers see the benefit and those who want the service (local people, their governments and organizations) are many times blocked from even trying to get something off the ground by a lack of access to spectrum, training, and so on. At least now we have made a small step towards gaining recognition at the international level for initiatives like ours. And the best part is that wherever you are, your country has already adopted this recommendation!

Thanks for sticking with us and stay tuned for more information. We will be at HOPE X in NYC this summer if you want to catch up with us personally, otherwise we’ll be here in Mexico, as always.

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