Mobile phone network launched by remote town

equipment powering the network
Image caption The equipment powering the RCT network

The remote Mexican town of Villa Talea de Castro, which has a population of 2,500, now has its own mobile phone network.

Users pay $1.20 (77p) per month for the Red Celular de Talea (RCT) radio network service, with US calls costing a little more, reports AFP.

However calls are limited to five minutes in length so as not to overload the fledgling network.

RCT is a collaboration between not-for-profit groups and the local community.

It runs off a 900mhz radio network and uses computer software that registers phone numbers, routes calls and manages account billing.

RCT volunteer Israel Hernandez said the radio spectrum was "financially unviable" for the country's major telecoms companies, which did not offer services in Talea de Castro.

Some 600 local people have signed up so far, said town official Alejandro Lopez.

The groups hope the project can be more widely adopted in the future.

"Many indigenous communities have shown interest in participating in this project and we hope that many more can join this scheme," they said in a joint statement.

Counting the cost

Informa telecoms analyst Mark Newman told the BBC the scheme may have been able to keep costs down because officially it is a two-year pilot.

"There are a number of reasons why it's usually expensive to make calls," he said.

"Often the government will sell the spectrum for a lot of money. You might pay millions of dollars to use the radio spectrum. The question is will the government eventually start taxing them for it?"

Mr Newman added that their willingness to install the necessary infrastructure could also be reflected in the apparently low price of running RCT.

"Generally, when you look at the cost of building a network, a large part of the cost is acquiring the sites to put your radio masts and the cost of digging up the road," he said.

"Those civil works are very expensive. If you are a village or town and you welcome the arrival of a mobile phone operator it might well be the council says, 'Of course you can put masts up on our municipal buildings, in our parks.' Then you are massively lowering the costs of rolling out that network."

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