Mexican indigenous groups form co-op phone company to serve 356 municipalities

Telecomunicaciones Indígenas Comunitarias A.C. – a nonprofit telcoms company operated by and for indigenous groups in Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla, and Veracruz – has received a license to operate cellular services in at least 356 municipalities. It’s the first time the Mexican telcoms regulator has given a operations license to an indigenous social group.

TIC is the sequel to a network created by Rhizomatica, who installed internet-based telephony in remote communities serviced only by expensive payphones, lowering the cost of calls by as much as 98%. TIC is a co-op venture with Rhizomatica, and the communities it will serve with high-speed wireless telephony and internet connectivity are both underserved and overbilled by Mexico’s for-profit telcoms companies.



Perhaps the First Film Explaining Cellular Phone Service

AT&T’s archives of the Bell Labs research and media provides a neverending stream of fascinating tidbits about the development of modern mobile communications. 

Recently, archivist Robin Edgerton discovered a 1978 film called “Advanced Mobile Phone Service (AMPS)” that is the earliest she’s found that describes cellular telephone operation. 

The honeycomb-like structure of a cellular network is shown and the principles of its operations, first laid out in a 1947 paper, are described.

Read more.

Obama administration fights for right to use cellphone kill switch

For nearly a decade, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has maintained a policy for unilaterally shutting down private cellular service, over an entire metropolitan area if necessary, in the event of a national crisis.

Adopted without public notice or debate, Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) 303, often referred to as the cellphone kill switch, has been shrouded in secrecy from its inception and has outraged some civil liberties groups battling to make the policy public.

A key hearing in that fight is set for next week.

“We have no clue what’s in it or what it’s about,” says Harold Feld, the senior vice president of Public Knowledge, a public interest advocacy group. In 2012 the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed suit in federal court seeking disclosure of information about SOP 303’s basic guidelines and policy procedures.

Using the argument that releasing any information about SOP 303 would risk public safety, the DHS prevailed in an appeals court after a lower court ruled in favor of making the policy public. In March of this year, however, EPIC’s petition for a rehearing of that appellate court decision was allowed to proceed, with the court issuing an April 27 deadline for the government to respond.

Precisely who has the authority to initiate a shutdown is unclear. According to one of the few public documents describing any aspect of SOP 303, a shutdown request may come from “state Homeland Security advisers, their designees or representatives of the DHS homeland security operations center.” SOP 303 tasks a DHS subagency, the National Coordinating Center for Communications, with asking “a series of questions to determine if the shutdown is a necessary action” before notifying the affected cellular carriers. Just what those questions are remains a secret.

Critics of SOP 303 argue that cellular communication is simply too vital to the public, particularly in times of emergency, to be shut off. Especially if the guidelines for doing so remain secret. “I don’t see any situation where you want to shut down the [cellular] phone network,” says Feld. “In the years since 9/11 we have moved all our critical public safety services onto the cellular network.”

Broadcasters push back against a plan to make a "buffer zone" between broadcast and celular services

The CTIA and Rural Cellular Association have asked the NAB and MSTV to institute an “informal guard band on Channel 51” to protect cellular service from interference. The NAB and MSTV note that this issue had already been considered for Channel 52 in the past, and noted that A Block license holders knew of the existence of services on Channel 51 before they chose to bid on, and set up services in the A Block.

Apparently the iPhone I bought on eBay already has service (I’ve made calls and sent texts on it). I’ve never owned an iPhone before, but since I assumed the phone was new (the seller on eBay said it was new and everything inside the shrink wrapped box looked brand new) I assumed there wouldn’t be a phone number associated with it and I would have to activate it before being able to use it as a phone.

I have no idea what’s going on, but I’m going to an AT&T store tomorrow to transfer the service and number I had on my previous phone to the new iPhone, so I guess it doesn’t matter.