Image credits: Denisse Leon, Unsplash
News Article

Internet For All, Reality or Utopia?

By Andrea Villar | Thu, 09/10/2020 - 14:01

The COVID-19 pandemic increased everyone's need to be connected and at the same time accentuated the technological gaps in the country. People in marginalized areas working from home and even taking classes online have seen their hands tied because, according to the OECD, Mexico is in the last places of access to fixed and mobile broadband.

“Telecommunications services were concentrated in big cities, neglecting areas that were difficult to access. Although there is currently greater competition, an improvement in prices and greater investment, the time that has passed since the telecommunications reform was published (2013) has not yet been sufficient to obtain significant results in the telecommunications sector,” explains Deloitte in a report.

The Internet for All program, established by the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), wants to cover 92.2 percent of the Mexican population by the end of 2021, said President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during his second State of the Nation address. This initiative will be mainly addressed to communities with less than 250 inhabitants, he added.

And how will this work? The government wants to take the Internet to the most remote places in the country through satellite receivers, microwave trains that conduct the signal from antenna to antenna or through optical fiber placed on low voltage electrical poles.

Is it Even Possible?

So far, the Internet for All project already provides free internet to 26,789 locations in the country in public places, such as educational and health institutions, government offices, community centers and open spaces such as plazas, sports facilities and common areas by authorities, said López Obrador. 

López Obrador said that due to the health emergency caused by COVID-19, internet service was granted to seven high specialty hospitals located in Chiapas, Guanajuato, Mexico, Morelos, Oaxaca, Tamaulipas and Yucatan, as well as 11 hospitals in Mexico City. The plan is ambitious, telecommunications expert Ramiro Tovar told Reforma. However, "not even in developed countries is there 100 percent coverage," he pointed out. Until 2019, South Korea had 96 percent coverage, the UK 94.9 percent, Sweden 92.1 percent and Japan 91.3 percent.

Andrea Villar Andrea Villar Journalist and Industry Analyst