Mexico's government said it will pay some $47 million to bring Internet access to 10,000 public facilities in marginalized, remote areas of the country, a project that will benefit 2.4 million people.
In announcing the winners of an internet connectivity auction, the Communications and Transportation Secretariat said 98.5 percent of the areas that will benefit from the service are rural.
Indoor Internet access will be provided at all of the sites, which include community centers, schools and health facilities, while WiFi hotspots with a radius of 250 meters (820 feet) will be set up outside 1,016 of them.
The winners of the auction - Alef Soluciones Integrales, GSAT Comunicaciones and Elara Comunicaciones - will be tasked with equipping, installing, operating and maintaining these remote stations.
They also will be responsible for providing the satellite segment, according to the secretariat, which estimated that that service will be installed and up and running between January and May 2013.
It said this initiative is part of the government's efforts to "bridge the digital divide" in Mexico, where 40.6 million people have Internet access, 58 percent of them via mobile devices.
According to the Mexican Internet Association, data connections via cellphones, music players, handheld game consoles and tablet computers increased last year. EFE