Mobile Phones – targetting the periferia

an interesting story taken directly from ther Guardian newspaper last week about how mobile companies are targetting residents of the periferia in Rio

“When Alan Roberto Lima was growing up in Vila Aliança, a notoriously violent favela on the western outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, only the community’s elite could afford mobile phones.

“The bandits and the big businessmen,” said Lima, 33, whose family has lived in the community since 1962, when the government evicted thousands of slum dwellers, including his mother, from the city centre and packed them off to housing estates such as Vila Aliança. Today things have changed. Just as the heavily armed drug traffickers have seized control of the slums since the 1980s, so too have mobiles.

“Cell phones are just like cellulite – any old bum has it,” said Lima, who pays R$140 (£40) a month for his Nextel radio phone with 400 free minutes and which helps him run his beachwear business, which produces over 1,000 pairs of Bermuda shorts each month for the chic boutiques of Ipanema and Copacabana.

Brazil is at the forefront of the mobile phone revolution. According to figures released last month by Brazil’s telecommunications regulator, Anatel, 1.3 million new mobile phone users were registered in January 2009 alone, taking the total number of users in Brazil to 151.9 million out of a total population of 190 million. On the frontline of the mobile phone’s charge in South America are the red brick shanty towns of cities such as Rio and São Paulo. Mobile phone companies are increasingly targeting the slums in search of new customers.

“Without my mobile, my business would become unviable,” said Lima, whose family business helps dress Rio’s fashionable beachgoers.”

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