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Community Networks 16 June 2020

Internet Society and Alliance for Affordable Internet Partner to Promote Community Networks and Expand Access for All

By Megan KruseFormer Director, Advocacy and Communications

The Internet Society and the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), an initiative of the World Wide Web Foundation, have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to further their existing partnership to collaborate on promoting community networks to expand meaningful connectivity, and other areas of joint interest.

A4AI is a global coalition working to drive down the cost of Internet access in low- and middle-income countries through policy and regulatory reform. The Internet Society is a member of A4AI, and the two organizations share a vision of an open, globally connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet for everyone.

Both organizations have emphasized the importance of solid research, capacity building, and advocacy to develop the policies needed to reduce the cost to connect and enable everyone, everywhere to access Internet connectivity. A4AI and ISOC believe community networks provide a sustainable solution to address connectivity gaps that exist in underserved urban, remote, and rural areas around the world.

This MoU formalizes a longstanding relationship between the two organizations. In the past, we’ve worked together to collaborate on common policy and regulatory objectives across numerous UN and international fora to promote and advocate for the expansion of public access solutions through community networks, and to work on common goals with respect to innovative uses of Universal Service Funds. We are excited to further advance the work we’ve been doing together.

The MoU lays out a few areas of joint interest including:

  • Supporting communities and local entrepreneurs to solve their own connectivity challenges through design and deployment of community networks, training and capacity building efforts, and knowledge sharing opportunities for solving policy and regulatory challenges.
  • Working through Internet Society Chapters and Special Interest Groups, A4AI National Coalitions, and other communities to mobilize resources and partners in support of the implementation of priority programs and projects.
  • Engaging in joint research efforts to support expansion of Internet access in underserved regions.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to work with A4AI and the Web Foundation to create real change for Internet users and potential users across the world. By combining our efforts, we can promote, create, and grow community networks, increase collaboration between network operators, create change in regulatory and policy environments, and provide opportunities to engage with each other to further common interests,” said Jane Coffin, Senior Vice President, Internet Grow at the Internet Society.

“It is wonderful to strengthen our partnership with ISOC to coordinate our activities and initiatives to support the expansion of community networks and overall affordable access for women and men alike. Collaboration is at the center of successful policy and implementation, and by joining our efforts we will be able to leverage our networks and better support our partners in their journey to expand affordable and meaningful connectivity across low- and middle-income countries,” said Sonia Jorge, Executive Director of A4AI.

Learn more about our work on Community Networks, or learn more about A4AI’s work.

Image from the Kondoa Community Network ©Nyani Quarmyne

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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