This is a beautiful account of the struggles of bringing cellular networks to poor, rural areas that are uninteresting (e.g. unprofitable) to the major providers.
Of the world’s 7 billion or so cell phones, a few hundred of them are already in Yaee—they’re just not connected to a network. Kids use them as cameras and mp3 players, and Hernández, like many adults, bought his to use in Oaxaca City, a seven-hour bus ride away. When he’s there, his cell phone can connect to plenty of base stations, which, in turn, link him to his choice of commercial network. But back in Yaee, there are no base stations and therefore no network. Every time Hernández wants to make a call in his hometown, he hikes for 20 minutes to the top of the highest hill around and hopes to catch some signal trickling in from a faraway base station, installed in a place deemed more profitable for telecoms than small towns like Yaee.
Articles like this are a great reminder of how fortunate we are and how our experiences are not universal. They help us empathize with the struggles others must overcome to participate in the “modern world”.