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Wireless For Communities

Collage of photos from Wireless for Communities Programme in India, Nepal and Pakistan


The W4C programme aims to:

  • Provide Internet connectivity by utilizing low-cost Wi-Fi-based equipment to connect and empower rural and underserved communities.
  • Address the lack of content, products and services originating from rural areas, which prevents economic benefits from percolating to the bottom of the pyramid.

The programme is comprised of three main components:

  1. The community receives training on how to establish community wireless networks. Communities are empowered via a structured Training of Trainers programme that equips participants with the information they need to design, deploy and operate wireless networks. This helps build a pool of local experts, who in turn can train community members.
  2. The deployment of wireless network infrastructure in rural locations. The technology used is Wi-Fi, which is generally structured in a wireless-mesh-type configuration for redundancy and reach, providing access in and around a community (usually a village).
  3. Broadening Internet access and usage in existing locations by expanding Wi-Fi connectivity to surrounding areas. Community workshops to enable local Internet users to create content and services online, and learn digital literacy skills are also carried out.

The W4C programme is currently being implemented in three countries - India, Nepal and Pakistan.

India

The W4C programme started in India in 2010, in partnership with the Digital Empowerment Foundation.

The programme in India was piloted in the traditional weaving village of Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh. Today, W4C has established 146 access points in 38 districts of 18 states in India. The programme uses line-of-sight methods, wireless technologies, low-cost Wi-Fi equipment and unlicensed spectrum - 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz - to create community-owned and community-operated wireless networks in rural and remote locations of India to democratize Internet access and make it available to all.

Inspired by the W4C's wireless ecosystem, several initiatives have emerged, including the Wireless Women for Entrepreneurship and Empowerment initiative that promotes Internet-based social enterprises and entrepreneurship among women, as change agents for social and economic empowerment.

In India, the Wireless for Communities and Open Spectrum Summit was organized in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, bringing together policy experts and field practitioners to discuss ways that wireless technologies and unlicensed spectrum can be used to extend connectivity to India's underserved regions.

View Wireless for Communities in India's website for updates.

Nepal

The W4C programme in Nepal was launched in the aftermath of the Gorkha Earthquake in April 2015, in partnership with the Nepal Wireless Networking Project, an initiative of Mahabir Pun, awardee of the Magsaysay Award and Internet Society's Jonathan B. Postel Service Award.

Wireless technologies can provide cost-effective Internet connectivity to dispersed communities located in challenging terrain like Nepal. Innovations in wireless technology and the increasing efficiency of solar energy systems combine to provide a feasible and sustainable connectivity solution in such environments.

In the first phase, the programme built wireless networks and connected 12 schools and 3 health clinics in 14 villages in Gorkha, Lamjung and Sindhupalchok districts. The community clinics have been connected to the Kathmandu Model Hospital, which provides telemedicine services to rural areas. There is plan to build the community's capacity to use the Internet for e-agriculture, e-banking, e-learning, e-health and rural innovation.

Pakistan

The W4C programme in Pakistan was launched in December 2015, in partnership with COMSATS Internet Services. Propakstani reported on the event.

A pilot project was initiated in Chak Faiz, a rural community in Multan, Punjab province of Pakistan. The first phase of establishing connectivity was completed in December 2015. The next phase is focused on training the community on the use of the Internet to improve their livelihood and wellbeing. Replication of this model to other villages in Pakistan is also being planned.

View Wireless for Communities in Pakistan's website for updates.

Related Wireless for Communities Links

Map showing the access points established under the Wireless for Communities (W4C) programme in India

This brochure gives an overview of the Wireless for Communities (W4C) programme in India. It includes information about the W4C approach, agenda, wireless ecosystem, timeline and impact.

Taking advantage of the fact that Internet Society’s CEO, Kathy Brown, and I were both in India last month, we visited one of our Wireless for Communities (W4C) sites in Tilonia, located in Rajasthan state.

Located some 380km from Delhi in a rural location, the W4C Tilonia site is based at the Barefoot College campus, and is a self-reliant model village – from generating their own solar electricity to sustainable water harvesting. They also run a community education programme teaching people from around the world skills to help them empower their local communities.

The W4C...

India is an interesting country when it comes to Internet access. 

On the one hand, India has the second most Internet subscribers in the world. There are over 450 million people online here. On the other hand, we also have the largest number of unconnected people. Only about 35 percent of our population is online, including more than 70 percent of women. Between 70 and 80 percent of our landmass isn’t connected, including most rural parts of the country. So we have a severe problem when it comes to connectivity.

I helped found the Digital Empowerment Foundation about 20...

Phase 6: Smart Village Programme Report (December 2015 - November 2016) Selected Tham in Jharkhand and Narayanpet in Telangana to implement this Smart Village Programme. Established a Digital Smart Village Resource Centre in each location with broadband connection. These centres are managed by the local community. Enhanced the capacity of local government operations and developed the entrepreneurial skills of the local community through the use of ICTs. Connected schools, local government offices and self-help groups to broadband.

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