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Who you gonna call?

15 April 2011

This month’s Telmex bill had a flier mostly designed to show us that our telephone connection rates aren’t all that outrageous compared to the United States. Objectively, they’re not: national long-distance calls average 0.79 pesos per minute, compared to 0.90 pesos for national long-distance in the United States, and connection charges are much lower in Mexico. However, the United States is a much larger country geographically, so long-distance calling may be a much longer distance, and— it’s almost not worth mentioning — people in the United States have a lot more money.  And our tax on telephone use is about double that of the U.S. (19% compared to 10%).

Still, the Telmex flier is something of an eye-opener. In 1991, there were only 5.4 million telephone lines in Mexico, where today there are 15.6 million. Certainly more people have home service, but what’s somewhat eye-popping is that there are over ten times MORE public telephones in Mexico than there were in 1991: 69,000 in 1991, and 752,000 today.

And that’s not counting cellular phones. with cellular service available nearly everywhere and seemingly everyone in the country issued a cell phone at birth (even ten years ago, it was joked that you know you’re in Mexico when you go out to eat and the number of cell phones on the table is higher than the number of eating utensils), you would expect street phones to have gone the way of the buggy-whip. But no… and, come to think of it, there are people in this country who still need buggy-whips. And a cell phone.

Susanna Theissen was photographed by Sharenii Guzmán Roque (to accompany her article  for El Universal) on the traditional Mennonites — recognized by the state as a “non-indigenous ethnic minority” — in Mexico City

According to “Vagabond Journey” 60 percent of the people in the world have cell phones, with those of us in the “undeveloped world” being even more connected than those in the high-tech countries:

To work almost anywhere in the world demands that you follow the communication conventions of the society where you seek employment, you need to play by the rules of engagement. In this case the modus operandi of communication on planet earth is the cell phone. The working world no longer knows how to function without cellular communication, the personnel infrastructure of the planet is now 100% dependent on each member being easily contact each member at any time. I repeat, if you want to work on this planet –especially outside of the USA — you almost need to have a cellular telephone connected to you at all times.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 15 April 2011 2:34 pm

    Cell phones are ubiquitous here in Western Honduras, especially in the rural areas, where there are no landlines. It’s not that everyone has one, but they can even be found in villages without electricity.
    So when pastoral workers come in to a workshop at the parish center they bring their cell phones and plug into every available outlet. But my favorite story is in a village which did not have electricity but there was a generator to run a corn grinder and a few other things. The priest and I had dinner in the house and, of course, they had the generator on. But the surprise was the number of power strips that had cell phones plugged in to be charged. I didn’t take a picture and it won’t be repeated since the village now has electricity.

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