The ground operators: the group of entrepreneurs to Mexico to poor network!

cloud network hunting note: for today’s most people want to get to the Internet is an easy thing, in the home, school, company and other public places, the network is everywhere. But Mexico’s small towns, because local small ignored, who want to make a phone call is a very difficult task. Fortunately, there is a person – Peter Bloom build network for the people there.

a small town no network

when Oaxaca in Mexico San Juan Yaee shrouded in clouds, also from San diego Raul Hernandez was crouching on the roof of the city chamber drill. Men dressed in water proofing property is good raincoat, together with a 4 m high equipment. Equipment around the welding on the four small circle, in the end it will be by the screws on the ground, and then fixed up the equipment can resist through Mexico frequently Sierra Juarez mountains of the storm. They don’t want this device a rain fell. Equipment at the top of the unit value of 90000 pesos ($6000); It all, place in a town rely on subsistence agriculture.

the blacksmith Hernandez Yaee region, just after a few hours before use in metal scrap, welding up the equipment, it is the center of the region’s first cellular network equipment. Canada NuRAN company provides two antenna and an open source base station, at a cost of 90000 pesos. Once Hernandez installed equipment, NuRAN company connected network at the same time, Yaee 500 residents in the region will call from home for the first time, and cost is lower than in other parts of Mexico.

from strategic consideration, Mexico’s main several carriers oaxaca ignored, so the state with the help of non-profit Rhizomatica telecom group in this region, positioning itself on the mobile communication. Rhizomatica founder Peter Bloom, is that a few squat down in the city chamber is one of the men on the roof. This is in March 2014, is the third time he smiled said he “manually install mobile devices,” in the past year and a half, he will be the project introduced the Sierra Juarez, the world is also introduced for the first time.

by the end of this year, the Bloom will be installed on April the state more than six cellular networks, and achieves a total of nine. As the Mexican government authorized Rhizomatica, allow the group to use the cellular frequencies, Bloom is slow and steady will be the “outdated technology” to cover the whole town.

place is too small, unprofitable

the world has about 7 billion mobile phones, but Yaee region only a few hundred people have mobile phones, because no networking in this area. Children act as your mobile phone camera and MP3 player, Hernandez and other adults, used in downtown bring mobile phones to April, but you must know, Yaee seven hours’ drive to the city. When they arrive in the city, Hernandez mobile phone search to a large number of base stations, to connect to the network business. Yaee etc, just returned to a world without base station, network. Hernandez often want to in the local phone calls, he can spend twenty minutes to climb the highest mountain, the remote base station wants to capture the emitted signal; For telecoms firms, those places than small town Yaee, more can obtain high returns.

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we’ve heard a lot of exciting story: by phone the possibility of liberation, for those who never contact fixed phone and laptop, mobile phone has brought the voice calls, brought mobile banking, mobile phone has brought everything! Bloom said, mobile phone “definitely defines the most common way of communication, digital hardware by the largest number of people on the earth”. But in terms of the phone itself, Bloom such explained, “you are the phone itself and can’t accomplish anything”. Indeed, only in the network, mobile phone can be effective. In general, want a profitable company is not only provides network services, control network services industry.

the profits derived from the user, if mobile operators find the location of the user activity concentration, so they will not be installed in the local infrastructure. Some countries will be based on economic reality, not the number of people using the service, legal requires telecommunications companies to build up a network services in rural areas. Mexico has no relevant laws, which means that Yaee as well as the region’s 500 residents have no hope to attract business suppliers.

what’s worse, the Mexican telecom industry to a large extent by the smash manipulation, the company’s chairman Carlos Slim almost monopoly the operation of the entire industry. In the late 1980 s, Mexico ushered in a wave of reform, after that, the original belong to the state of the telecom industry moved into the hands of Slim, then the mexicans living first price third cargo’s experience for the first time, the beginning is a fixed telephone, now is the mobile phone and Internet. It was happened in a network in the region. In 2011, according to records show that provided by the international telecommunication union network limited service and high cost in Mexico’s mobile phone users only 55%.

although Mexico by Slim a bad reputation for control of telecom service policy, but compared to those who strive to provide access network for rural countries, was actually realized the possibility of more. Global business mobile operators have formed a group, called the GSM (global system for mobile communications, support 2 g network standard technology) association, the association pointed out that in rural areas of developing countries there are still one billion six hundred million people do not have access to mobile. Bloom and his partner in Rhizomatica said: if you want to benefit the people who desperately need to use mobile phones, and allows them to “use”, your mobile phone on the liberation of hardware, refresh the phone at a low price, it is not enough to achieve this goal. More needs to be done is to liberate the infrastructure and network itself, which has a long way.


from a hacker’s point of view, the mobile communication technology in the wrong point in time. In 1991, appeared in the world’s first commercial network, just after that, the Internet was born from academia, then gradually into the people in the family. With the formation of a powerful open source community, a growing number of patent and patent equipment, but the cellular network technology is still a mystery. Open source software developers, and at the same time or mobile communication researchers Harald Welte claimed that even in now, “people are still hard to capture the high”.

until around 2006, old station, appeared on the eBay like Welte interested hackers can see 2 g technology makes the, even if it is out of date. Just out of curiosity, Welte snapped up several base stations, four years later, he carried out the reverse cracked and played the first call on Open source GSM network, and use of Open source in the GSM base station controller Open BSC have played an important role in coordinating network transmission.

now, in the real world, Rhizomatica is promoting the Open BSC. Bloom said, “we were the first to apply this technology to the people in the general environment, we are trying to use it”. When he still lived in Nigeria, he first became interested in cellular networks, when he is talking with the people together to protest the delta oil companies.

where protesters have mobile phones, but the service is costly, and political power but also can monitor their communications, and even shut down the network on a whim, so they very difficult to share information with each other. Bloom, then, decided to help them set up mobile network, so can connect directly to the mobile phone, but no longer need to base stations and commercial network routing. The technology is mainly used for aid after disasters, such as sea rescue after the earthquake, but to say everyday use, it is not reliable. Continuous flow of data in reality can make the network overload, that is to say, so often make multiple hops network collapse.


a few years later, Bloom and his wife moved to Mexico now, his wife in the Sierra Juarez community radio stations. While local residents hope to enjoy mobile services business, but the cost of them, so the Bloom began to consider here continue to finish his project in Nigeria to open. He decided to give up the idea of multiple hops network, the search for more reliable telecommunications technology, finally settled on the most powerful Open source systems: Welte Open BSC.

Bloom to do is install the software in a base station he bought from the hand of the NuRAN and Fairwaves, but please note that the professional background of Bloom is not programming. So, when experienced hackers in backpacking trip accident through April, Bloom will ask them to help, such examples abound. Of those people of an Indian, and finally a permanent move to Mexico, became a part of Rhizomatica. Today, Bloom spend a lot of time to drive the device to towns like Yaee, again and again by rain on the roof, he hoped one day equipment set up, the network can be connected.

town for the Bloom of equipment and installation in advance payment of 120000 pesos ($8000), the commercial suppliers Movistar in cities and towns to provide similar services, cost is 6 times of the former. 90000 pesos to buy hardware, the overhead, and pay the rest as Rhizomatica. Internet users only need to pay a monthly 30 pesos (about $2), you can enjoy local calls and SMS turnkey services, towns pay the electricity and maintenance costs, the rest of the money can be reserved for profit.

a company named Protokol due to Mexico, in the area on April provided Internet access services, Rhizomatica to connect Internet phone is introduced into the town, as a result, users hit Mexico City will be very cheap, for users who have relatives in the United States, make a long distance is also very cheap. Once the network is established and Yaee residents call to the United States as long as 20 points (less than 2 cents) per minute. If a similar public call in the town, a minute to collect 15 pesos (about $1), for many people, the cost is too high.

however, Welte, said business network or than leading open source network for twenty years, Rhizomatica community network felt the pressure of its own. Bloom, Hernandez and other members of the team must ensure that Yaee area above equipment installed in the hall of a window, so that they can drag of the base line is plugged into the wall socket.

Yaee area blackout happens often, especially in the rainy season in May to September, once a power outage, cellular networks and failure. Until August 2014, the town to raise enough money, to get the original chamber roof of a complete set of equipment installed in the city to move to a higher place, but the signal can reach the mountainside, Hernandez and a large number of residents live in a mountainside can search to the network, then nobody can prove that.

it is because of the nature is not stable, to those who have already arranged the community network user frustration. Yaviche mountains on the other side, in September 2013 set up a local network, rural doctors Abi Martinez, Ramos said cell phone service was the Gospel of emergency rescue. But when a local is a venomous snake bite, need immediate injection of antivenoms, that man can recall the situation was “no signal”. Someone must personally go to Martinez for emergency treatment, it sounds almost like going back to ancient times.