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Community Networks 2 December 2016

You Can Build the Internet

Jane Coffin
By Jane CoffinFormer Senior Vice President, Internet Growth

Community Networks are connecting people in underserved rural, remote, and urban areas around the world. They have existed for decades in small out-of-the-way or unknown pockets. Local champions – normal people who just believe in making things happen – are creating these networks with-for-and-by communities. It starts with people and the belief that something should change because they know that access to affordable connectivity can change lives.

Small, DIY networks are connecting people in remote parts of the globe, from the Amazon Rainforest to the Himalayas, to the fly-in communities of Canada’s north. They are are making connectivity affordable to more and more people in around the world. Community networking puts technology into the hands of the people who use it. It helps demystify the Internet and proves that people, no matter what their background is, can run and maintain a network.

Community networks turn people from consumers of the Internet to Citizen-builders of the Internet.

All over the world, people are setting up these sorts of networks, for reasons that vary from the need for low-cost VoIP connections to a burning desire to play Call of Duty. Many are working in isolation. And, we know that when we bring people together who share a passion for making change – amazing things happen. The “human chemical reaction” and “trust networks” start to form, and people start to connect with people to shift the balance.

The Internet Society and our partners want to bring them together to share ideas and build a stronger network of people.

We’re going to bring some of these people together at the Internet Governance Forum in Guadalajara, to learn from each other and help grow community networking as a movement. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing you a few of their stories. If you’re here please join us 

If you’re working to bring your community online, or if you want to, get it in touch!

If you want to take part in the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) from the comfort of your home, here’s how you can join. 

There are some cool activities taking place! More can be found here.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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