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Community Networks

Stand Together 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!

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, is organizing 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

Indigenous Connectivity Summit Sheds Light on Ways in Which Indigenous Communities Bridge the Digital Divide
Press Releases 18 October 2017

Indigenous Connectivity Summit Sheds Light on Ways in Which Indigenous Communities Bridge the Digital Divide

Two-day Event will Facilitate Conversation between Individuals and Organizations Committed to Bringing the Internet to Indigenous Communities Throughout North...

New Policy Brief published on Community Networks and Access to Spectrum
New Policy Brief published on Community Networks and Access to Spectrum Thumbnail
Community Networks 12 October 2017

New Policy Brief published on Community Networks and Access to Spectrum

Yesterday we published a new policy brief: Spectrum Approaches for Community Networks. Access to affordable and available spectrum is critical...

New policies needed to close the digital divide, says Internet Society  
Press Releases 11 October 2017

New policies needed to close the digital divide, says Internet Society  

New paper highlights crucial role of Community Networks in connecting the unconnected Buenos Aires, Argentina–11 October, 2017–  The Internet...

Partnerships to Connect the World
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Community Networks 10 October 2017

Partnerships to Connect the World

Today the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union Houlin Zhao opened the World Communication Development Conference (WTDC) with a...

Every Connection Matters – Shape Tomorrow and Help Close Digital Divides
Every Connection Matters – Shape Tomorrow and Help Close Digital Divides Thumbnail
Community Networks 5 October 2017

Every Connection Matters – Shape Tomorrow and Help Close Digital Divides

We are currently living a special moment in time, a sort of paradox. Today, almost half of the world’s...

By Indigenous Communities, for Indigenous Communities
By Indigenous Communities, for Indigenous Communities Thumbnail
Community Networks 3 October 2017

By Indigenous Communities, for Indigenous Communities

At the Internet Society, we believe that the Internet is for everyone. We’re standing by that belief by supporting...

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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.