Mobiles: Alternatives

From Gender and Tech Resources

Revision as of 14:03, 27 January 2017 by Alex (Talk | contribs) (Logros Políticos)

Dany guzman.jpg [1]

Autonomous and Community Mobile Telephony

According to the International Telecommunication Union[2] in the world there are between 2 to 3 billion people who lack mobile telephony services, this is due mainly because telecommunications regulatory bodies grant concessions to access the mobile radio spectrum only to large companies, restricting access to micro enterprises that wish to provide this service to rural areas for instance.

It is common to think that the only way to communicate through mobile phones is to use the services of large transnational mobile phone companies and that profit is the only economic model for the creation and sustainability of these services. However, there are communities and villages that are located in geographically remote territories, with a low population density and / or where the economy is based on self-subsistence economies, and which remain unappealing for large companies which are in general not interested in providing services (considering for example that the initial investment Is too high). Sometimes, these communities do not want telephony services based on an unscrupulous profit model neither.

It is within these communities that the hope is born for new creative and collaborative ways of providing telephony services. We present below some of these alternative mobile phone projects whose models are based on the exercise of the right of peoples' to communication.



The Rhizomatica organization is located in Oaxaca[3], in the south-east of Mexico. It works by creating bridges between communities of indigenous peoples of Mexico and people engaged in telecommunications engineering with open systems, with the objective of creating mobile telephony infrastructure to strengthen the autonomy of indigenous peoples. In order to understand the origin and success of the autonomous mobile telephony project, it is important to understand its context.

Context and history

Oaxaca is a complex territory, with a great cultural diversity (17 indigenous peoples co-inhabit the territory), with a rugged geography, where the territory is communal, there are strong structures of local government recognized by the Mexican constitution and international treaties, Economy is basically based on self-subsistence.

In the 1970s and 1980s, these peoples began their first communal enterprises for the management of common goods * forestry and aquifers that are the precedent for the current communal telecommunication enterprises described here. This complex context is the fertile ground for infrastructure projects in telecommunications that strengthen the autonomy of indigenous peoples.

From the 2006 social movement[4] the native peoples of Oaxaca engaged in the task of creating their own means of communication, with special emphasis on the Community radios. At the moment, Oaxaca is the state with the greater concentration of these radios in all the country. Although there is no official census, social organizations estimate that there are between 60 and 100 community radios currently operating in the state of Oaxaca.

Driven by the need for communication, the communal authorities of these towns approached innumerable times big companies to request services of mobile telephony but the result was a refusal because they are small towns, located in remote areas and with few resources. Because of this, communal villages began a dialogue with the team of Rhizomatica to look for the ways to construct infrastructure of mobile telephony that would strengthen the autonomy of their towns. This was how the Autonomous and Community Cellular Telephone project emerged.


In technical terms, the autonomous mobile telephony infrastructure consists of a[5] transceiver that emits and receives radio waves at the frequency of 850 MHz with 5 Watts of Power and an antenna located in the high part of the territory which allows to cover up to 15 km around. These are radio waves that require line of sight, meaning that mountainous geography should be considered so that the signal reaches far. Any type of phone can access these networks, a specific SIM card is not required. In the case of Oaxaca, the numbering system is constructed according to the postal code assigned to that territory. The system of administration and billing is made to be adapted to the original languages that are spoken in the locality.

For more details about the architecture system, the hardware and software used, we recommend you to view the Rhizomatica wiki Screenshot4.png Screenshot2.png

Currently (July 2016) the project encompasses 17 communities[6], and some of them are interconnected. Each transceiver is owned by the communal governing body of each village. The cost per telephone registered in the network is 40 Mexican pesos per month equivalent to $ 2 USD for unlimited calls and text messages within the interconnected community or region. For out-of-town calls such as the city of Oaxaca or a city in the United States, calls come through the voice over IP (VoIP) system[7] offering network users the lowest rates in the market. To achieve this it is important that the community that wants to have an autonomous mobile telephone system, first resolve the issue of their Internet connection. Usually this is done through local micro-enterprises that are creating networks through WiFi links to take the Internet to those places. The cost of a computer, the importation of the equipment, the installation and training for its administration is approximately $ 7,000 USD. Currently Rhizomatica uses NuRAN Wireless [8]equipment among other providers. This cost is expected to decline in the coming years with the development of new open source hardware devices.

Among the main requirements for the installation of an autonomous mobile telephone networks we find: - Count with the approval of the community assembly - No signal from another mobile phone company - Have an Internet connection

Rhizomatica currently has around 3,000 users of autonomous mobile telephony services in Oaxaca. From this experience, a group of young computer students developed has replicated a similar project on the Nicaraguan Atlantic coast called SayCel[9].

Political achievements

The achievement of Rhizomatica and the native peoples of Oaxaca is not only technical but also political. Last June, 2016, the civil association Telecomunicaciones Indígenas Comunitarias (TIC AC), made up of the 17 communities that have autonomous mobile telephone networks won a 15-year concession to operate telecommunications networks in 5 states of the Mexican republic: Veracruz, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla and Chiapas. This achievement sets a historic precedent in telecommunications in Mexico and in the world, with which the International Telecommunication Union shows it as an example to be followed by other governments in the region.


Among the main challenges that Rhizomatica faces we find the access to data for Internet browsing and the transformation of the customer-company relationship as people are accustomed to the fact that mobile phone services are in the hands of transnational companies and not in their own hands .


To know more about the project, we invite you to watch the following videos Network of Santa María Yaviche:

Desinformemonos Video


WIRED article English Version:


About the 15 years concession



Free and communitarian WIFI networks



Altermundi “la pata tecnológica de ese otro mundo posible”


It is a civil association that was born in the province of Córdoba[10] in Argentina[11], its mission is to create Internet infrastructure through the use of Free Software and very low cost hardware. Altermundi creates decentralized wireless networks, using WiFi routers and a[12]firmware to modify the router's operation.

"A community network is a network built, managed, administrated, by the people who are going to use it. It prioritizes local traffic, maintains peering agreements[13] (Internet free transit) with any network that offers reciprocity. This was the Internet when it started, that was the original spirit, which has been lost. Internet has been closed and the big networks do not give peering to the people, they broke the model of peer to pee[14]. For us, community networks have two axes: giving concrete solutions to people of flesh and blood , and at the same time "contaminate" the current the Internet with the old spirit of the Internet "Nicolás Echániz[15] founding member of Altermundi.

The main advantage of these networks is that they allow access to the Internet in villages where there is no access to the services of commercial companies but above all they are very simple to manage and administer by people in the community itself, without the need for specialized knowledge in electronics or computing and at an affordable price. In addition anyone can extend the network, respecting its design and its principles because its growth is not based in a business model.

Through this free Internet network people have access to a local chat service, to online transmission of local community radio, to VoIP calls, to share files between peers and to games. In Argentina, these networks are located in Delta de Tigre in Buenos Aires and the Valley of Paravachasca in Cordoba.


The hardware[16] consists of a router and an antenna, as well as other materials to adapt the router and the cable that connects to the antenna in the open. In the router if you install a firmware (operating system) that allows autoconfiguration and other programs for personalization and monitoring of the network.

Altermundi modifies the routers so that when connecting with a directional antenna the signal of WiFi can cover a few kilometers, in this way a network of devices with WiFi signal is built by which they can interchange data between people within a town or region and also can connect the network to what we know today by Internet, allowing to share it in the network.

'What is the difference between a Free Network and a Community Network?' Characteristics of a Free Network:

  • Free use: it can be used by its participants to offer and receive any type of service that does not affect its good functioning;
  • Neutrality: does not inspect or modify data flows within the network beyond what is necessary for its operation;
  • Free interconnection: allows, freedom and free services, the flow of data with other networks that respect the same conditions;
  • Free transit: it provides other free networks access to the networks with which it maintains voluntary agreements of free interconnection.

The goal of free networks is to return common sense to the Internet structure, allowing the free flow of information, making the most of infrastructure and lowering costs so that small businesses can be deployed easily in areas where Internet access is unfeasible. In this sense Community Networks are an expression of Free Networks because they play a fundamental role for the community through the following characteristics:

  • Collective ownership: its infrastructure is owned by the community that deploys it;
  • Social management: the network is managed by the same community;
  • Accessible design: information on how the network and its components work are public and accessible;
  • Open participation: anyone can extend the network, respecting its design and its principles.

Political Achievements

At the same time as implementing its technology, Altermundi participated in the debate on the Digital Argentina Law approved in December 2014, achieving jointly with other sectors to include in the article 94 of the law the "promotion and protection of community networks" .

On the other hand, the work of Altermundi with the creation of these free and community networks, gave birth to a new ccooperation team that is developing Free-Mesh [17].


El principal desafío que tienen estas redes libres es el tener acceso a un ancho de banda a precio mayorista para conectarse al resto de Internet. Mientras en Europa 1 megabytes por segundo cuestan al rededor de $0.78 dólares al mes, en Argentina 1 megabyte por segundo cuesta $40 dólares mensuales, es decir, 51 veces más que en Europa.

Otros proyectos alternativos



Es una red de telecomunicaciones como un bien común. En la actualidad tiene más de 30,000 nodos activos dentro de la red.

"Guifi·net es una red de de telecomunicaciones en la que particulares, organizaciones, empresas y todo tipo de entidades participan promoviendo e invirtiendo en una infraestructura de comunes que les proporciona un acceso a las telecomunicaciones y a Internet de calidad y a un precio justo"[18].

Red Abierta, Libre y Neutral, la cual se define así porque:

  • Es abierta porque se ofrece de forma universal a la participación de todos sin ningún tipo de exclusión o discriminación y porque se informa en todo momento acerca de cómo funciona la red y sus componentes, lo que permite que cualquiera pueda mejorarla.
  • Es libre porque todos pueden hacer lo que quieran y disfrutar de las libertades tal y como se prevén en la referencia de los principios generales (apartado I.), todo esto independientemente de su nivel de participación en la red y sin imponer términos y condiciones que contradigan este acuerdo de forma unilateral.
  • Es neutral porque la red es independiente de los contenidos, no los condiciona y, así, pueden circular libremente; los usuarios pueden acceder y producir contenidos independientemente de sus posibilidades financieras o condiciones sociales. Cuando se incorporan contenidos a la red en se hace con el fin de estimular su aparición, gestionar mejor la red o simplemente como ejercicio de incorporar contenidos, pero en ningún caso con el objetivo de sustituir o bloquear otros contenidos.

El Procomún de la RALN (Red Abierta, Lirbre y Neutral) se fundamenta en las siguientes bases:

  • Eres libre de utilizar la red para cualquier propósito mientras no perjudiques el funcionamiento de la propia red, la libertad de otros usuarios, y respetes las condiciones de los contenidos y servicios que circulan libremente.
  • Eres libre de conocer como es la red, sus componentes y su funcionamiento, también puedes difundir su espíritu y funcionamiento libremente.
  • Eres libre para incorporar servicios y contenidos a la red con las condiciones que quieras.
  • Eres libre de Incorporarte a la red y ayudar a extender estas libertades y condiciones.

Mapa de nodos:


Participa! El nodo es tuyo pero la red es de todas las personas que se conectan.

Routers y firmwares que puedes ocupar para participar en la red

Unirse a, en tres pasos[19]

  • Añadir un nodo
  • Añadir un router nuevo
  • Añadir un enlace

Proyecto Serval


Este proyecto, surge de un grupo depersonas en Australia que desarrollan tecnología de código abierto y software libre para crear conexión directa entre teléfonos móviles, a través, de las interfaces WiFI de los teléfonos.

Para utilizar esta tecnología es necesario acceder como usuario root[20] al telefóno móvil para luego poder instalar un software libre desarrollado por Proyecto Serval que permite configurar la antena WiFi en tipo Ad-hoc y crear un Mesh Network[21].

No se necesita una infraestructura WiFi externa al teléfono móvil, simplemente se necesita activar el WiFi de los teléfonos móviles que están cerca y de ésta manera podrán intercambiar datos a través de llamadas, mensajes, fotos, etc. Estos datos viajan de un teléfono a otro, a través, del camino que encuentra dentro de la red de teléfonos conectados. No se requiere de los servicios de una compañía de telefonía móvil. Esta tecnología permite realizar llamadas de voz. Los mensajes de texto y otros datos son comunicados a través del almacenamiento y la retransmisión, sistema que se conoce como rizoma.

Wiki del proyecto Serval:

Commotion Wireless

Comotion logocom.jpeg

Proyecto desarrollado por Open Technology Institute[22] que consiste en crear redes malla (en ingles llamada Mesh Network)[23] de señales inalambricas[24] con tecnología de codigo abierto[25]. Este proyecto ha utilizado la tecnología Mobile ad-hoc network[26], es decir, una red de nodos móviles conectados a través de señal inalámbrica.


  1. Fotográfo: Daniel Guzman. Isla Negra, Chile.