Community Networks and Local Access Monthly Newsletter – Number 3

Photo provided by APC and used with permission.

This newsletter is part of the project titled, “Local Access Networks: Can the unconnected connect themselves?” developed by APC in partnership with Internet Society and Rhizomática, with support from Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC). It is republished here on Rising Voices as part of a partnership with APC. Click here to see the original post on APC's website.

1. Get involved

  • Call for book chapter proposals: Global Information Society Watch, ‘a space for collaborative monitoring or implementation of international (and national) commitments made by governments towards the creation of an inclusive information society’ will be releasing the 2018 annual issue under the topic ‘Community Networks’. A call for proposals for country level book chapters will be sent out to interested parties. If you are interested in producing a 2000 word book chapter for the 2018 edition, feel free to email the coordinator, Kathleen at for further information or go to
  • The Internet Society is inviting applications for the online course “Building Wireless Community Networks”. The e-Learning course will be delivered through our learning portal Inforum. This online course covers essential topics for effective planning, deployment and operational support of wireless community networks. The course will be delivered in English [apply here] and Spanish [apply here]. Applications will close on 28 February. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact them at

2. Calls for grants and prizes

  • UNESCO’s Innovation Fund aims to quickly assess, fund and grow open-source solutions that can improve children’s lives. Financial and technological support is available for companies that are using technology in innovative ways to improve the world. The Fund has made 51 investments in 28 countries with an eye to invest in 30 more start-ups in 2018, receiving applications on a rolling basis. Read more.
  • The Prix Ars Electronica is constantly on the lookout for what’s new and exciting, what’s radically different, and what’s making an impact right now. The “Digital Communities” category focuses on the wide-ranging social and artistic impact of the internet technology as well as on the latest developments in social software, user generated content, mobile communications and location based services. Individuals, groups, associations, public institutions and private enterprises are eligible to enter. Read more.

3. Events and conferences

  • The WSIS Forum will take place from 19 to 23 March 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland, co-organized by ITU, UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD. Following the successful first edition, they invite the community to participate in the Photo Contest before 25 February 2018 to picture how information and communication technologies are playing an enabling role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The three winning entries in the WSIS photo contest will be awarded and presented at the WSIS Forum 2018. Read more.
  • The 2018 incarnation of OsmoDevCon, the annual meeting for Osmocom developers has been scheduled for April 20-23, 2018 and will be held at IN-Berlin in Berlin, Germany. For more information and registration as well as submitting your talk proposals, see OsmoDevCon2018 and this mailing list thread.
  • People working on mesh networks in Toronto put together a workshop that starts in April 2018, with a duration of 4-6 weeks. Participants will learn about community networks, wireless mesh networks, distributed applications, and train their pet Raspberry Pi to do networking things. All sessions contain a technical hands-on component and a reflection activity to explore the role of technologies on our society. Read more.
  • The next re:publica Festival will take place in Berlin, Germany, at STATION Berlin from 2 to 4 May 2018. The 2018's event, under the motto POP, aims to pop the filter bubbles, step out into the public and make net culture and politics tangible for everyone. A session titled “Tech for Good” will focus on innovation from the Global South. Read more.
  • From 16 to 18 May 2018, Toronto will host this year’s edition of RightsCon. One of the chosen themes will be “Net Discrimination, Connectivity and the Internet of Everything”. Read more.
  • Wikimania 2018 will take place from 20 to 22, July, in Cape Town, South Africa. They are currently looking for submissions on sessions for the conference and the link between local content and community networks could be one of them.
  • The Sixth Annual Global Summit of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance will take place from 1-3 May 2018 in London, UK. It will bring together policy makers, regulators, academia, and private sector leaders in spectrum management to discuss and debate spectrum sharing methods and models, from exclusive use licensing to unlicensed spectrum allocations. Read more.
  • The African Internet Summit 2018 will be held in Dakar, Senegal, from 29 April to 11 May 2018. You can register online here. The call is open for those interested to do presentations at the summit.

4. Community networks in news and blogs

  • Ik’ Ta K’op brings affordable internet connectivity to Chiapas, Mexico, where only 13% of population has access to the internet. [In Spanish and in English]
  • Rhizomatica has been announced winner for the Mozilla Challenge “Off-the-Grid Internet Challenge”, with their HERMES (High­-frequency Emergency and Rural Multimedia Exchange System) project, an autonomous network infrastructure that enables local calling, SMS, and basic OTT messaging, all via equipment that can fit inside two suitcases, using GSM, Software Defined Radio and High-Frequency radio technologies. Read more.
  • The Sarantaporo Community network in Greece reports on their first hand experience receiving an ISOC grant. Read more.
  • An interesting piece by Bob Frankston: It’s Time to Move From ‘Broadband’ to ‘Infrastructure’. Read more.
  • More than 750 North American communities have built their own internet networks. Read more.
  • A grassroots mobile phone network built in rural Oaxaca, Mexico, has become a lifeline between indigenous communities and the rest of the world, but Mexican authorities say the ultra-low-cost service could be in violation of federal telecommunication laws. Read more.
  • Redes celulares comunitarias en Oaxaca ya cuentan con servicios de datos [In Spanish].
  • ¿Qué son las redes comunitarias y cómo benefician a todos los mexicanos? [In Spanish]
  • FundAction’s ‘Rethink’ grant supports expertise sharing to Tzoumerka. Read more.
  • Reflections about girls and women participation in community networks from Empower Malaysia’s participation in the CN Exchange APAC 2017. Read more.
  • “The fieldwork in Mankosi community caused me to think so much about third-world feminist research in ICTD endeavors. I was overwhelmed by the realization of how much we depend on western theorizing to make sense of our everyday life.” These is one of the outcomes flagged by Tigist Shewarega Hussen, a black feminist specializing in gender and ICTs who was invited to explore and analyse gender dynamics within Zenzeleni Networks. Read more.

5. Relevant articles on technologies related to local access networks

  • The web is dying, but mesh networks could save it. Read more.
  • Lines, radios, and cables – oh my. Read more.
  • Do-It-Yourself Internet Service Providers. Read more.
  • In the fifth episode of CYBERnyama, Alex Comninos speaks to Steve Song about his Africa Telecoms Infrastructure in 2017 report. They discuss the state of Africa’s telecommunications infrastructures including undersea cables, terrestrial backbone fibre, streaming, wireless technologies, spectrum, and the concept of universal basic internet. You can also follow Song’s blog, Many Possibilities, where he has documented much of his research on ICT access and development and telecom infrastructures.

6. Regulation

  • Spectrum is not a scarce natural resource. Read more.
  • Netcommons has created a guide explaining the legalities surrounding the provision of internet access in a public way [In French].
  • In a joint submission to the Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s Consultation on the Technical and Policy Framework for White Space Devices in Canada, APC and the Internet Society propose community network operators as a viable solution to reduce the disparity in broadband internet access affecting Canadians, predominantly from rural, remote, and Indigenous communities. Read more.
  • A written submission by Zenzeleni Networks, APC and the University of Western Cape on the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill in South Africa is premised on the practical experience of Zenzeleni Networks, which has demonstrated an alternative model to address the universal access and service gap, in rural South Africa in particular. The recommendations here articulate legislative proposals, which in the authors’ views will fundamentally alter the status quo such that South Africa may make real progress towards addressing its connectivity targets. Read more.

7. Reports and publications

7.1 Reports on community networks and local access initiatives

  • In this new issue paper by APC, Leandro Navarro from Associació Pangea – Coordinadora Comunicació per a la Cooperació, describes a model to develop network infrastructure as common property, governed under the principles of common-pool resources. The model is based on the principles of cooperation instead of competition – because universal connectivity can only be achieved if everyone has the right to create their own connectivity. Read more.
  • GSMA report on unique subscribers acknowledges the plateauing of the mobile industry in reaching the unconnected: It will take 8 years to reach the next 900 million mobile users. An opportunity to advocate for alternative models? Read more.
  • The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development announced their 2025 targets to “Connect the other half”. They list seven main targets including affordability indicators for entry level broadband services and gender equality across all targets. Read the full list of targets here.
  • The ITU/UNOHRILLS report is an interesting read on Universal and Affordable Internet in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) but, quite surprisingly, the report does not mention the existence of community networks as an option to build affordable connectivity. Read more.
  • Fast wireless internet service is now available in Tusheti, Georgia, a remote area of the world, thanks to a partnership between the Internet Society and its Georgia Chapter, The Small and Medium Telecom Operators Association of Georgia, The part of the association LTD Freenet, technical head of the project – Mr. K. Stalinski, and the Tusheti Development Fund (TDF). Read more.

7.2 Academic publications on community networks

8. Previous newsletter editions

Previous editions of this newsletter are available here.

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February 2018. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

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