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The Internet can open up a world of opportunity. With half the world’s population unconnected, it’s urgent that we shape a tomorrow that benefits everyone.

Let’s build a digital future that puts people first.

Closing the digital divide is critical and community networks offer a solution. These are “do it yourself” networks built by people for people.

You can promote, donate to, or even build a community network yourself. You can also work with your local community and government to help create change!

This page will get you started.

“Hauling the Internet to an Ex-Soviet Outpost High in the Caucasus Mountains”

The New York Times profiled the Tusheti Network Project, a solar-powered wireless network that brought broadband Internet access to Tusheti, a beautiful but very remote region of the Greater Caucasus Mountains in the Republic of Georgia. The work was extra challenging thanks to the difficult terrain and unwieldy nature of loads that had to be brought up by packhorses. Read the Tusheti Case Study to learn more about the project, which aimed to provide a way for the people of Tusheti to build opportunities while preserving their local heritage, traditions, and ways of life.

Resources

Policy and Regulatory Considerations

Community networks need policy and regulatory assistance in some countries to get started. You can check out three of our Policy Briefs here. They focus on critical issues that help the tech and hard work a reality:

  • Innovations in Spectrum Management: Enabling community networks and small operators to connect the unconnected (English) (French) (Spanish)
  • Policy Brief: Spectrum Approaches for Community Networks (English) (French) (Spanish)
  • Unleashing Community Networks: Innovative Licensing Approaches (English) (French) (Spanish)

Assessing Community Networks

More and more people are keen to deploy community networks. We know from our partners that this takes some time and energy to work with and build the local community. Read the first ever report on community networks in Sub-Saharan Africa, Supporting the Creation and Scalability of Affordable Access Solutions: Understanding Community Networks in Africa.

We recently published the study about the Community Networks in Latin America, together with our partners: Community Networks in Latin America: Challenges, Regulations and Solutions (Spanish version here). The purpose of this study is to highlight the potential of community networks and to point out the regulatory elements that might optimize their development.

Online Courses

Beyond the Net

Many of our chapters are involved in community networks. Learn more about the work they’re doing around the world!

Next Century Cities

The Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity (DC3)

Wireless Networking In The Developing World (WNDW)

  • WNDW is a free book about designing, implementing, and maintaining low-cost wireless networks.

 

 

 

 

 

New Projects We're Launching with Our Partners

Argentina

The Internet Society is supporting the creation of local community infrastructure to create a self-sustainable community network that connects the villages of El Cuy, Aguada Guzman, and Cerro Policia. Planning, installation, and operation will be discussed, agreed to, and led by the local community.

Zimbabwe

The Internet Society is supporting the nongovernmental organization Murambinda Works to build a wireless network to connect schools, health centers, and commercial centers.  We have conducted a site survey with the team and are working on plans to deploy with the Murambinda team.

Kyrgyzstan

The Internet Society is working in cooperation with the Kyrgyzstan government, the regulator, the ISP community, the ISOC Kyrgyz Chapter, and civil society and academia to identify a community in need. We expect to see deployment plans firm up soon. Stay tuned!

Summit on Community Networks in Africa

Community networks provide a sustainable solution to address the connectivity gaps that exist in urban, remote, and rural areas around the world. In Africa, where these gaps are more evident, a recent survey was able to identify 37 community networks initiatives in 12 African countries, of which 25 are considered active.

The objective of the summit is to promote the creation and growth of Community Networks, increase collaboration between community network operators in the region and to provide an opportunity for them to engage with other stakeholders.

The Fourth Summit on Community Networks in Africa will take place in Dodoma, Tanzania from 28 October – 2 November 2019. 

The event targets Community Networks operators, policy makers, researchers, evangelists, sponsors, and related networks such as community radio.

Read related news:
Community Networks Key to Connecting Africa, says Internet Society
Third Summit on Community Networks in Africa a Success

Connecting Indigenous Communities

Including Indigenous voices in the decisions and solutions that shape the Internet is a vital part of closing the global digital divide.

Each year, the community-led Indigenous Connectivity Summit brings together Indigenous leaders, community members, community network operators, Internet service providers, researchers and policy makers with a common goal: connecting Indigenous communities to fast, affordable and sustainable Internet.

The 2019 Indigenous Connectivity Summit will host a two-day conference that focuses on building partnerships, advocating regulatory changes, and sharing success stories of community networks throughout Canada and the United States.

The Summit will be held from 12 to 13 November 2019 in Hilo, Hawaii, US.

Read more

New Projects We're Launching with Our Partners

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.

Subscribe or read online the APC monthly newsletter with news and information around community networks and local access.

Read about the launch of the 2018 edition of GISWatch on community networks at the IGF.

See also the new report on Community Networks in Latin America, published in collaboration with APC, FGV Direito Rio and Redes por la Diversidad, Equidad y Sustentabilidad A.C.

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.

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

Read about the recent events organized in India: Community Network Xchange (CNX) 2018 and Digital Citizen Summit 2018 (DCS 2018)

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

Five Key Takeaways from the Summit in Asia-Pacific on Deploying, Sustaining and Scaling Community Networks
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Community Networks 19 November 2019

Five Key Takeaways from the Summit in Asia-Pacific on Deploying, Sustaining and Scaling Community Networks

Community networks (CNs) offer a solution to connect the unconnected billions. They are becoming all the more important as recent...

Summit Seeks to Connect Communities in Africa to the Global Internet
Press Releases 30 October 2019

Summit Seeks to Connect Communities in Africa to the Global Internet

Dodoma, Tanzania–30 October, 2019 – The Internet Society and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) in partnership with the...

‘These Are Our First Roadways’: Internet Access and Self-Determination in Pu’uhonua O Waimanalo
‘These Are Our First Roadways’: Internet Access and Self-Determination in Pu’uhonua O Waimanalo Thumbnail
Community Networks 14 October 2019

‘These Are Our First Roadways’: Internet Access and Self-Determination in Pu’uhonua O Waimanalo

The establishment of Pu‘uhonua o Waimānalo in 1994 was a significant milestone in the native Hawaiian movement to regain...

In Colombia: Latin American Summit on Community Networks
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Community Networks 24 September 2019

In Colombia: Latin American Summit on Community Networks

The University of Cundinamarca will host the Second Latin American Summit of Community Networks September 24-28. The event is...

2019 Chapterthon – Our Chapters, Connecting the World One Community at a Time
2019 Chapterthon – Our Chapters, Connecting the World One Community at a Time Thumbnail
Community Networks 3 September 2019

2019 Chapterthon – Our Chapters, Connecting the World One Community at a Time

Each year, the Chapterthon project competition brings enthusiasm and excitement among our global community. We look forward to this...

Beyond the Palm Trees: Local Action Key to Fast, Affordable and Reliable Internet Solutions in Rural Hawai’i
Beyond the Palm Trees: Local Action Key to Fast, Affordable and Reliable Internet Solutions in Rural Hawai’i Thumbnail
Community Networks 30 August 2019

Beyond the Palm Trees: Local Action Key to Fast, Affordable and Reliable Internet Solutions in Rural Hawai’i

To many North Americans, Hawai’i is a place of beaches, resorts, surfing, rainforests, and volcanoes — it’s a vacation...

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Image credit: Internet Society / Nyani Quarmyne / Panos Pictures