CFE Telecommunications and Internet for All’s strategy focuses on serving regions where connectivity is currently limited or non-existent. Consequently, the CFE subsidiary has decided to expand its points of sale to 24 states of the republic.
Jorge Moreno Loza, a lawyer specialized in telecommunications and leader of the Expanzione firm, believes that the strategy of CFE Telecomunicaciones e Internet para Todos is insufficient in its objective of providing access to connectivity services to the Mexican population. According to him, this challenge goes beyond the simple expansion of network infrastructure or the opening of points of sale for credit recharge.
“What is needed is a comprehensive approach that includes the provision of equipment and the development of digital skills by users,” he says.
Most of these points of sale are located in Oaxaca and Guerrero, with a total of 34 and 18 locations respectively. However, these regions have one of the lowest rates of cell phone users in the country, since only six out of ten inhabitants have a mobile deviceaccording to data from the National Survey on Availability and Use of Information Technologies in Homes (ENDUTIH).
Chiapas, which has the lowest proportion of cell phone users nationwide, has been excluded from the expansion plans of the state telecommunications company.
In addition, the cost of connectivity services represents a high percentage in some entities. In Oaxaca, for example, residents can spend up to 58% of their income to purchase a low-end mobile phone, while in Chiapas, this figure rises to 72% of their monthly income, according to the Digital Development Index State 2022, prepared by the Mexico Digital Center.
The telecommunications industry has stressed that simply deploying networks is not enough to overcome the digital divide in the country. The implementation of government subsidies or the creation of a universal service fund is required that allows low-income people to access connectivity devices and services, such as fixed and mobile internet. The possibility is even raised that the CFE subsidiary company promotes this initiative.
According to one expert, CFE Telecomunicaciones appears to focus on numerical objectives and metrics rather than achieving effective connectivity. This appears to be driven by the need to show progress on the “internet for all” policy, leading to a hasty pace of implementation and without adequate evaluation of its impact.
The CFE’s telecommunications subsidiary aims to reach 94% coverage by March next year, with a budget that is 24% higher than that allocated in 2023. However, there is a lack of a clear focus and solid metrics that evaluate the impact of its efforts in reducing the digital divide among the Mexican population.