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Community Networks

Stand Together for A Connected World

The Internet is critical to jobs, sharing new ideas, building friendships, and opening up a world of opportunities.

But with half of the world’s population still not connected, it’s now more urgent than ever to send the reminder that if we are going to build a digital future that benefits everyone, everywhere we’ll need new ways of working, new ways of thinking, and new policies support it all.

To make that happen is going to take all of us.

How can you help?

If you believe that closing the digital divide is critical, community networks are something everyone can support. These are ‘do it yourself’ networks built by people for the people often with no technical expertise. Community Networks are something you can promote, donate to, or even build yourself.

This page will get you started.

Together we can help build a digital future that puts people first.

What They Are

Community networks are usually built and operated by citizens who want to connect their village, city, or town. They are a solution to connect the unconnected. We hope that the information on this site inspires you to see how you can shape a new future in your country. You can also read this report by Carlos Rey-Moreno, Supporting the Creation and Scalability of Affordable Access Solutions: Understanding Community Networks in Africa.

Why We Do It

Rural, remote, and under-served communities exist around the globe. Community networks offer local solutions to fill connectivity gaps, bringing people together. People who build community networks also bring with them new ideas, new ways of thinking and new solutions. They inspire all of us to think a differently and to solve problems together.

How You Can Be Part of It

The future of the Internet is ours to shape. We need you to call on policy and decision makers to support new policies and regulations to make this happen.

Here’s how:

Don’t Miss!

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 18 to 21 December 2017, on the theme Shape Your Digital Future! The event is a global multistakeholder forum that promotes discussions and dialogue about public policy issues related to the Internet.

Are you a community network manager, operator, researcher, or enabler and interested in attending? The Internet Society has initiated a rapid call for community network fellowships, which will cover IGF air travel and hotel costs.

Criteria:

  • You must have worked with, managed, created, researched, or enabled a community network for more than one year. (We consider community radio as part of community networks.)
  • You must not have received an Internet Society fellowship to the IGF in the past.

To Apply:

  • Send an email by 11 December at 1700 UTC to coffin@isoc.org and buell@isoc.org indicating “why” as a community network manager, operator, researcher, or enabler you would like a fellowship to the IGF 2017.

There will be a strong focus on women working with community networks, community networks in Indigenous communities, community networks working with refugees, and community networks working in disaster and emergency response situations.

Connecting Indigenous Communities

The Internet Society, together with the Internet Society New Mexico Chapter, the 1st-Mile InstituteNew Mexico Techworks, and the First Mile Connectivity Consortium, organized the first Indigenous Connectivity Summit, a unique event focused on connecting Indigenous communities in North America to the Internet. For more details, please visit the event’s page.

Partners & Projects We Support

Here are some of the amazing community networking projects and partners we work with around the world that connect communities. We support them through direct project funding, small fellowships, grants, and joint training events. Our mantra is For the Community, With the Community, By the Community. See the map of the countries we are currently working in or supporting projects in!

APC
APC has been involved in community networks around the world for over a decade, and are key partners.

COMSATS Internet Services
Internet Society has partnered with COMSATS Internet Services to connect a rural community near Multan city, in the Punjab province. The project includes deployment of a wireless network together with training for the community that will enable users to access the benefits of the Internet, providing them with opportunities for social development and inclusion. You can read more about the project here.

Digital Empowerment Foundation
India DEF and the Internet Society created the Wireless Communities Project (W4C) nearly eight years ago. What was once a “back of the napkin” idea turned into real projects in India led by the excellent team of experts and partners at DEF and in partner locations. Check out our APAC team website for more information.

Please also see the new DEF-ISOC report on community networks in India and recommendations to assist their development.

Guerrero, Mexico
See this video – narrated by our Mexican Chapter President, Luis Martinez – about the impact community networks have had in Guerrero, Mexico

Guifi.net
Guifi.net is a bottom-up, citizenship-driven technological, social, and economic project with the objective of creating a free, open and neutral telecommunications network based on a commons model.

ICTP
ICTP has worked with us on network training and installation as well as new tools for network development. Marco Zennaro and Ermanno Pietrosemoli recently helped with training, a hands-on lab, and installation for Tunapanda in Nairobi, Kenya in May.

Nepal Wireless Project
Nepal Wireless Project is a non-profit initiative located in the remote rural areas of Nepal.  It was started in 2002 to bring communication services to the villages of the Myagdi district and to find ways to bridge the digital divide between the urban and rural areas of Nepal.

NYCMesh
Some projects are in urban under-served areas of developed countries. Read more about this project led by some of our NY Chapter members and also supported through our Beyond the Net Grant Programme.

Rhizomatica
Rhizomatica began in 2009 as a quest to make alternative telecommunications infrastructure possible for people around the world dealing with oppressive regimes, the threat of natural disaster, or the reality of living in a place deemed too poor or too isolated to cover. The Internet Society supports their efforts in Central and South America to develop networks to connect more people in Mexico, and Central and South America.

SFBay
SF-Bay Area Chapter’s project,”Bridging California’s Rural/Urban Digital Divide with Mobile Broadband“, is collecting data on mobile broadband performance in rural areas and comparing that performance to what mobile providers are claiming they’re delivering. Data collected will help drive policy to get rural areas more affordable, robust and reliable access, which is crucial for AgTech solutions and for driving the rural economy.

Tusheti, Georgia
The Internet Society partnered with its Georgian Chapter and several Georgian Internet organisations to connect the remote and mountainous region of Tusheti to the Internet. The project was launched in September 2017 opening new opportunities for tourism and cultural preservation, and providing an essential communication channel for healthcare and potential emergency situations. Read the case study for more information.

Zenzeleni
Zenzeleni is an emerging umbrella body of community telecoms organisations, inspired and led by Zenzeleni Networks Mankosi, the first telecoms co-op. The team at Zenzeleni has come up with community-driven efforts to connect people in the Eastern Cape. They also have shared their expertise at training activities and assisted the Internet Society with a new report called Supporting the Creation and Scalability of Affordable Access Solutions: Understanding Community Networks in Africa.

Community Networks News

Help Make the Internet Open to All: Join SIG Women!
Help Make the Internet Open to All: Join SIG Women! Thumbnail
Community Networks 14 December 2017

Help Make the Internet Open to All: Join SIG Women!

When we talk about women and technology, we need to talk data. In the United States, a recent report by...

Together We Can Reduce Barriers
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Community Networks 14 December 2017

Together We Can Reduce Barriers

Accessibility is human right. People with disabilities want and need to use the Internet just like everyone else, but...

The Internet Is at a Crossroads: We Have a Choice to Make
The Internet Is at a Crossroads: We Have a Choice to Make Thumbnail
Community Networks 14 December 2017

The Internet Is at a Crossroads: We Have a Choice to Make

As we look around at a rapidly changing world that is shaped more and more by the digital domain, we...

Another BGP Routing Incident Highlights an Internet Without Checkpoints
Another BGP Routing Incident Highlights an Internet Without Checkpoints Thumbnail
Community Networks 13 December 2017

Another BGP Routing Incident Highlights an Internet Without Checkpoints

Yesterday, there were two BGP routing incidents in which several high-profile sites (Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitch, NTT Communications...

Reflections from the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace
Reflections from the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace Thumbnail
Community Networks 13 December 2017

Reflections from the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace

Two weeks ago, a small delegation from the Internet Society was in Delhi for a series of meetings. (See...

Let’s Mobilize for Better Data Stewardship
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Community Networks 12 December 2017

Let’s Mobilize for Better Data Stewardship

If we want organizations like Equifax to be good data stewards, we, the users and consumers, must mobilize.

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Resources

Inforum Course: Introduction to Network Operations
This introductory online course is targeted at novice/entry level UNIX/Linux users pursuing careers in Network or System Administration.

See this link for more details about the online training.

Wireless Networking In The Developing World (WNDW)
WNDW is a free book about designing, implementing, and maintaining low-cost wireless networks.

See this link for more articles, books, and other data on Community Networks.