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Examples of this category of community networks are B4RN 8 in the United Kingdom or the telecommunications cooperatives of Argentina. These networks, although they are constituted as community networks i. It is their purposes which define the particular characteristics of this type of network, not their architecture. That is, their specific legal treatment derives from their form of economic or social organisation, rather than their networking architecture.

This way of organising can give them special tax or legal treatment, for example, by being a non-profit association or cooperative. Although these types of networks require a licence even if they do not use spectrum, in some countries they can benefit from a simplified licensing model or from spectrum reserved for them.

This distinction is normal in the case of radio broadcasting, and a similar principle should apply in telecommunications. For example, if a country recognises special legislation for community broadcasting that is derived from its form of governance and its purposes, when the means of transmission is changed, but not the form of organisation or purposes, the same principles should apply.

This is because there is a general principle of law that says: where there is the same reason, there must be the same provision. If we also take into account that technological convergence allows the provision of different communication services, by establishing an artificial distinction for a certain type of community media, based only on the kind of technology it uses, this could turn into a barrier to the exercise of the right to freedom of expression or a barrier to entry to markets Regulation inspired by the principle of neutrality must avoid discriminatory effects among other technologies at the same time as favouring the development of ICTs.

Broadly speaking, the regulatory principle of technological neutrality is based on four commitments: non-discrimination, sustainability, efficiency and consumer certainty. Cullell March, C. In these cases the licensing model can be simplified to facilitate their attention to this segment, such as the simplified licence in Brazil for operators that serve localities of less than 5, inhabitants.

Countries such as Mexico and Argentina have a special regime for community or social operators and, in the case of Mexico, spectrum specifically reserved for these purposes. In the case of Mexico, the spectrum segment in the GSM band assigned to social uses is not exclusive, since it can be granted at the same time for social and commercial use the rural and remote areas are far enough away from commercially viable areas so as not to cause interference. Mixed networks In these cases the network constitutes a separate infrastructure from the services that are provided and has a different legal status compared to a model where there is a service operator: the network becomes a separate entity that is not owned by any operator.

This type of network consists of the aggregation of user nodes into a network, where the users contribute their local infrastructure to create a common infrastructure. There are, in this model, multiple pieces of a network that are added together to form a single one. This is something similar to what is known in civil law as servitude: where private property or goods are also used for the benefit of others, as is the case with the right of way, where the good in this case a piece of land remains the property of the owner but he or she must allow passage and not hinder the passage of others across that land.

These are interconnection agreements between different owners of nodes or network segments, which can be operators, users, universities, community networks, municipalities, governments, etc. In these cases it depends on the legal nature of each node owner whether the network needs a licence or not.

If a user is a telecommunications service provider, it will require a licence, but if it is a private network, it will not. Conclusions To determine the need for a licence for a community network, you have to consider the network architecture in the first place and the infrastructure it uses free spectrum, licensed or shared infrastructure.

If the network is private and uses free spectrum, it probably does not require a licence. It shows how the property regime of transhumant lands is varied, but mainly public, and how the use of the land affects its legal status. Belli Ed. Where affordable access to the internet exists, the barriers to manifesting a work digitally are extremely low.

Although there are signs that this may be changing, the internet remains a realm largely free of regulation. Digital producers require no licence or certification to create, just the willingness to invest the time and effort in the production. Telecommunications infrastructure comes from a very different history. As centrally controlled, topdown networks based on a command-and-control philosophy, their underlying conception is radically different from the more organic, bottom-up network of networks that is the internet.

There are reasons for this. At the time the first large-scale telecommunication networks were being developed, their construction was an effort so extraordinary and expensive that they were typically only undertaken by national governments. Following the tradition of postal services, countries undertook the provision of telecommunication infrastructure as a public good. This began to change in the early s as, around the world, governments began to embrace privatisation as a means of addressing inefficiencies in state-run infrastructure monopolies as well as a means of generating revenue for the exchequer.

In most countries, privatisation was accompanied by a process of market liberalisation allowing for competition for the first time. Part of the privatisation and liberalisation involved the establishment of regulatory frameworks and organisations to ensure that the public good was still being served and that the resulting privatised and liberalised market was fair, open and competitive.

It is not surprising that these regulatory bodies were designed to deal with large-scale national companies, because it required millions even billions of dollars of investment to build a national communication network including the international connectivity, national backhaul long-distance, high-capacity infrastructure and last-mile infrastructure. Because of this, most telecommunication regulatory frameworks are designed with these large corporations in mind, with implications for organisational capacity.

It is implied, for example, within most regulatory processes and requirements that the applicant has the time and resources that the legal department of a large telecommunications corporation might possess to fulfil detailed applications and reporting requirements as well as draft submissions and commentary on new proposed regulations.

With the new norm of auctioning high-demand spectrum, it is assumed that any telecommunications organisation should have the millions of dollars required to bid on spectrum licences. An exception to the above model has emerged, however, with the growth of the use of Wi-Fi technologies.

Wi-Fi equipment operates in the licence-exempt frequency bands which are regulated through technological constraints rather than the requirement of a user licence. The licence-exempt nature of Wi-Fi has created a very low market barrier for both manufacturing and deployment of this technology.

Wi-Fi has proven successful as both an access technology and a backhaul technology, making it suitable for a wide range of deployments. It has allowed for independent initiatives to establish connectivity in places that were either unserved or where access was deemed expensive by citizens. It has enabled the rise of small-scale operators both in the form of non-profit community-owned networks and commercial wireless internet services providers ISPs.

Historically, telecommunication operators managed the entire communication network infrastructure, from international backhaul links through undersea cable to national fibre optic and microwave backhaul networks to the last mile connecting consumers. Increasingly, international, national and metropolitan network infrastructures are available as wholesale services to any operator, lowering the bar to market entry for smaller operators who can focus on last-mile delivery.

Finally, communication technology in general has come down dramatically in cost. Not only has Wi-Fi technology become extremely affordable, but all kinds of communication technologies, from point-to-point microwave to GSM to LTE base stations have dropped in price; even fibre optics now have prices that are within the reach of the community network and small-scale operator.

All of these changes represent tremendous potential for community networks. Nevertheless, most regulatory frameworks have yet to catch up with these changes and are not structured in such as way as to enable communities to easily take advantage of them. Most community networks happen in spite of existing regulatory frameworks, not because of them. Regulation needs to evolve Most regulatory and policy frameworks focus on the provision of broadband access primarily by a limited number of national mobile operators.

This presents barriers to other models of access that can complement the existing players, whose business models are less able to cost-effectively serve remote and sparsely populated areas. Regulators need to recognise community networks and small-scale operators as an essential part of their regulatory strategy, representing an important complementary approach to access delivery that can address geographic or sectoral gaps in service delivery.

This is not a case of replacing one approach with another but of recognising that countries do not have one single economy. French historian Fernand Braudel 2 argued that economies can be understood at three different levels: ordinary economic life at the base, where local efforts are consumed locally; then the market economy of cities, markets and trade, currencies, transport systems, etc.

Regulation should acknowledge the existence of these levels of economy and their value in delivering affordable access. Metaphorically, we might think of regulation as trying to fill a glass jar with stones. Current regulation accommodates only one fist-sized type of stones.

When we attempt to fill the jar, we can fit three or four stones in at best. The jar may look full, but if we were to fill the remaining space with water, it would fill more than half the volume in the jar. What is needed is regulation that enables smaller stones and even tiny pebbles so that we might fill the jar.

This approach acknowledges and continues to value larger operators but recognises that smallerscale operators and even subsistence operators have an important role to play as well. It is important to note that the small-scale operators and community networks may not be designed to scale to the size of large operators, but rather to serve the geographic, economic and sector niche they were designed for. In order for this to happen, there are a host of enabling regulations that are needed.

Licensing Many countries have yet to move to a modern unified regulatory regime based on technological neutrality and simple authorisations to permit service provision. National licences are often the only type available and may come with substantial administrative reporting requirements and fees. Although a few countries like Brazil and India have adopted tiered licensing systems which provide licences at the regional or municipal level, the requirements for these are still bureaucratic, and the technical and financial requirements are beyond the means of most potential operators.

In countries like New Zealand and the United States, no specific licence is required to become an operator below a certain level of operation. Awareness raising about existing good practices and capacity-building work among policy makers and regulators are needed to address this situation.

Access to radio spectrum While licence-exempt Wi-Fi has grown exponentially in deployment and application, demand for exclusive-use licensed spectrum has also grown. Operators are now expected to pay millions of dollars at auction for an exclusive-use spectrum licence. There is a need to build on the success of licence-exempt spectrum by exploring new frequencies that might be similarly regulated. There is also a need to find a middle ground between licenceexempt and national exclusive-use licences.

There is scope for a range of creative alternatives. Finally, new technologies such as radio devices which operate over a much wider range of spectrum bands and use spectrum sensing suggest that we may be on the cusp of a paradigm shift in spectrum management. Access to passive infrastructure and backhaul As demand for broadband grows, especially with the rise in streaming media content through services like YouTube and Netflix, access to affordable, high-capacity backhaul services becomes one of the most critical limiting factors in the delivery of affordable access.

Open access policy and regulation for backhaul networks are essential to ensure equitable access. Perhaps more importantly, pricing on these networks needs to reflect the national strategic assets that networks are. Like roads or railways, broadband backhaul networks should be designed and priced to maximise traffic in order to realise the full potential for positive externalities that these networks represent. Similarly, passive infrastructure, such as the towers of mobile operators and the masts and poles of public broadcasters and energy distribution grids, should be considered from the point of view of enabling all kinds of operators.

Transparency Even if fibre is available nearby, it is often very difficult for a new operator to know where the nearest point of presence is, so it can design and cost the network accordingly. It is also difficult to know who has been assigned licences to radio frequencies that might be unoccupied or unused in rural areas. Similarly, access to information on tower locations is needed so that both governments and other actors can identify the connectivity gaps and adopt the best approach to close them.

Information on the deployment of fibre, towers and spectrum infrastructure should be a matter of public record. This is essential both from the point of view of transparency, where millions of dollars are changing hands, but also from the point of view of enabling the identification of market gaps and possible solutions.

Associated taxation Finally, there are many taxes that add to the burden of starting and operating networks. Other taxes include fees per mast and device installed and contributions to universal service funds, among others. These added costs must be recovered from end-users, which further limits the service s affordability. Conclusion The very low barriers to digital production on the internet have enabled an explosion of creativity in content and services, which is steadily increasing the value of being connected.

Those without affordable access to the internet are increasingly socially and economically left behind. In order to ensure that everyone has affordable access to communication, we need to unleash the same kind of energy that spurred the growth of internet content and services. Lowering barriers to the establishment and operation of community networks will exploit the pent-up demand and creativity of the underserved, allowing them to implement low-cost, local connectivity solutions that can sustainably serve their constituencies.

Regulators must recognise that community networks have an essential complementary role to play in the delivery of affordable access for all. It is designed to enable both large and smallscale operators. Due to their generally small size, there are limited economies of scale in community networks, which often means more costly services to operate the network, resulting in higher per-user overhead costs than in larger networks.

Since community-based networks often operate or plan to set up in remote, sparsely populated areas, costs are higher than in urban areas for providing internet connectivity and energy, as well as for transport and sourcing of the business and technical skills, which are usually scarce in these areas.

And although there may be many important social and economic benefits that can be derived from a community network, it is often difficult to translate these benefits into the cash needed to pay for the network and its operations. On the positive side, in contrast to traditional commercial operators, community-based networks are able to start at a very small scale and have a more diverse range of models for achieving financial sustainability. In addition, they are less likely to need an expensive marketing and public relations 1 GSMA.

While some community networks may operate much like a traditional commercial network where users pay a monthly fee to cover all costs , others may draw to varying levels on volunteer labour, donations of equipment, donated upstream bandwidth and the use of high sites to erect towers and antennas, or subsidies from government and commercial sources. Primarily focusing on remote or rural areas where connectivity is not available, this report looks at the different aspects that may be considered in maximising the potential for small-scale networks to achieve financial sustainability by leveraging opportunities to minimise costs and access start-up funds.

Starting small At the outset, it should be noted that many community-based networks have started on an informal basis from very small beginnings, which require almost no initial external financial support. Considering that the high cost of internet access is a major barrier to increased connectivity, it is not surprising that the most common example is the Wi-Fi broadband network, where the cost of a link to the internet is shared among a number of users via Wi- Fi.

Households and offices do this routinely, but this can easily extend to providing links to neighbours. If the users are close enough and they install their own routers, the only cost is for each user to pay their share of the monthly fee for the upstream connection to the internet, and perhaps add a small contribution for router power consumption at the location of the shared upstream connection.

Bandwidth costs and network scaling Ensuring the lowest possible cost for upstream connectivity to the internet is often a top priority with community networks, as this usually has the single largest impact on overall operating costs, and ultimately, on the financial sustainability of the network. Even if a discount cannot be arranged from an ISP, and there are no other nearby supporting organisations with capacity to spare, commercial ISPs still usually charge less per Mbps for higher capacity commitments.

This means the larger the initial network deployment in terms of numbers of users , the lower the monthly cost per user. And if cheaper additional bandwidth is available to respond to demand as the network grows, the cost savings can be passed on to the users. This lower cost of participation further adds to the network effect in attracting new members.

It is also worth taking into consideration that as the network grows, bandwidth costs per user are further reduced, because usage is more evenly spread over time with a larger user base. So, for example, doubling the number of users does not require doubling the upstream capacity in order for each user to have the same network experience.

As a result, even if extra capacity costs the same on a per-mbps basis, the cost of upstream bandwidth per user reduces as the number of users grows. If this can be translated into reduced charges for cost recovery from users, this will further incentivise participation in the network. In networks providing voice services, the economies of scale are smaller, because each voice channel requires symmetric, dedicated capacity with low latency and high quality of service.

As a result, service fee increases are more linearly linked to traffic increases. Balancing the number of channels required in peak and off-peak periods can involve compromises and requires experience. In addition, there may be recurring costs associated with allocation of numbering resources.

Furthermore, unless there is a favourable regulatory regime, small voice networks can struggle to meet the minimum interconnection requirements of the larger national operators, let alone gain any volume discounts from them.

Once a broadband network has grown to a sufficient size, upstream bandwidth costs are often significantly reduced by installing a caching server on the network. The server stores copies of content requested by users, thereby reducing duplication of traffic on the link whenever that content is requested again by the same or another user. Pre-fetching content and refreshing mirror servers such as software and operating system updates, Wikipedia, etc.

Some community networks have also taken additional steps to manage their expensive upstream capacity by setting up their routers to filter access to high-bandwidth websites, especially during peak periods. Exploiting the availability of the excess internet capacity of nearby larger institutions during offpeak periods has also proved an effective strategy in cutting upstream bandwidth operating costs. Members of the network adapt their usage accordingly, knowing that access at peak time is likely to be less efficient.

This strategy can also be adopted more generally by charging all users a differential rate for peak versus off-peak usage, or even making usage free during off-peak periods. Finally, it should also be noted that many community networks have not aimed to provide access to the upstream internet, focusing instead on linking the community directly with each other and to locally hosted servers and content. Naturally these networks are unburdened with upstream connectivity costs, although in some cases it is assumed that the participants have their own internet connections mainly in urban environments.

In others, the networks are islands completely unconnected with the rest of the internet, such as Mesh Bukavu, 3 which hosts a large amount of content online locally. Gaining independence If the community network s upstream connection is provided on a purely commercial basis by a single operator, the network is essentially reselling the service in smaller chunks on their behalf and absorbing the cost of collecting the fees.

In this situation the community network is also dependent on the prices for capacity charged by the operator, and must pay for all the upstream traffic, even when it is destined for other local networks nearby. Although this requires greater technical knowledge and a more capable router to be able to route traffic efficiently between multiple networks , this not only gives the network a better negotiating position on the price of upstream capacity, but also makes the network faster for the users of the interconnected networks, and reduces capacity needs on the original link.

Ideally, if it is possible to establish a link to a local internet exchange point IXP , then more networks can be reached directly, and it should normally be possible to peer away even more traffic, further reducing the costs for transit capacity purchased from upstream providers. As importantly, a single link to one upstream provider also creates a vulnerable point of failure, while a network with multiple upstream connections will be more reliable, because one of the providers can go down and the network will continue to function.

Reliability quickly becomes an important concern once an affordable service has proven itself and as the community becomes more dependant on it, especially for economic activities, such as remote work. Long periods of downtime can quickly sap confidence in the network, and generally chill the level of use when connectivity returns. In some cases, this might also involve site rental for a high site on which to locate the relay equipment, and tower insurance.

Sometimes the owner of the high site will accept the provision of free connectivity in return for installation of a tower on the location. If there is already a telecom tower of some form on the site or nearby, it may be cheaper to lease space on the tower than construct another. However, this may require some hard negotiating or bringing in the telecom regulator to ensure that infrastructure-sharing regulations which should include price caps for space rental are being adhered to.

Tower costs can often be reduced by having them locally constructed, and by mounting shorter towers on existing tall buildings, or even trees, if available. In addition, use of non-line-of-sight frequencies most often those lower than Mhz means that towers do not have to be high enough to reach over trees, buildings and other obstacles, which considerably reduces tower deployment costs.

When the network had to switch to line-of-sight 5 Ghz links due to regulatory issues, the towers required needed to be much higher. As a result, although 5 Ghz radio equipment for the links is much cheaper than the TVWS equipment, the overall deployment costs were significantly higher because the tower costs were a much larger component of the total cost. Similarly, with mobile voice and data services, choice of lower frequencies e. Fortunately, the cost of equipment for generating electricity from solar power continues to drop, but the batteries, electronics and solar panels for off-grid sites can often still cost as much as the tower itself, especially when the power system needs to support mobile networks, for which the base stations consume significantly more energy than Wi-Fi.

However, for off-grid locations, it should be noted that energy needs in a mobile network are concentrated at the tower and overall energy consumption See the India country report by Gram Marg in this edition of GISWatch. In general, because of the reliability concerns described above, it is important to dimension the power system sufficiently to ensure that occasional long periods of cloudy weather do not cause a system outage.

In addition, availability of backup equipment, ideally stored on-site, for quick replacement of broken parts also needs to be considered, as well as the lightning protection and security for the tower equipment if necessary some community networks need to employ full-time patrols to guard against theft.

The community network may be required to pay licence, spectrum, business and other fees, for which there is often no way to reduce costs, except by spreading them across a larger user base. However, as the importance of these networks is being increasingly recognised, it is hoped that more countries will follow the example of Mexico in recognising the social purpose of these networks, 6 and making appropriate dispensations to support them by providing access to licensed spectrum and limiting bureaucratic burdens and unnecessary fees and taxes.

Aside from spectrum and licence fees, import duties should not be ignored, as these can often double the cost of the network equipment, and also often add significantly to the cost of end-user access devices. If waivers on import duties cannot be obtained from the government for community networks, it may be possible to avoid some of these taxes through partnerships with charities which have special status, or through informal import channels.

Use of open source hardware and software also helps to bring down equipment costs and provides many other advantages. This is already a relatively common strategy among community networks where proprietary Wi-Fi hardware is often modified with open source routing software e. There are now also an increasing number of open hardware platforms, in particular the muchanticipated LibreRouter initiative by AlterMundi, a number of 2G base stations such as those from Fairwaves and Sysmocom, and the OpenCellular LTE base station currently under development.

These new devices generally offer cost advantages over the traditional equipment commonly being used in particular, the presence of three radios in the LibreRouter increases the available capacity on the mesh, and obviates the need for duplicate devices when acting as a relay or mesh node, while simultaneously performing hotspot functions to provide end-user access.

Buying network equipment in bulk or organising group purchases with other community networks can also help to bring down equipment costs. Community network collaboration is particularly important for helping reduce prices in small community-driven hardware projects such as the LibreRouter, which does not benefit from the same economies of scale as consumer devices mass produced by the large companies operating in this market.

In relation to the administrative and human resource aspects of a community network, the involvement of community members is usually essential to minimising costs of deployment and operations. While technical and business skills often need to be initially sourced from outside the community, with fairly minimal training, local volunteers can be used for many tasks, such as erecting towers and installing equipment on roofs, or even day-to-day technical and administrative tasks troubleshooting, adding users, collecting fees, etc.

Nevertheless, once the network grows beyond a certain size, the most cost-effective solution is likely to involve part-time or even permanent staff from within the community. In some cases, especially where there are multiple similar networks operating in the country with licence compliance needs and shared use of other resources such as higher level technical expertise, a satellite link or DID numbers , 7 it can make sense to establish a national or regional organisation that can take on the burden of many of these common administrative tasks.

Fundraising In some locations, the members of the community may be able to fundraise internally to cover the costs of the network, especially if there are some potential businesses or other organisational users willing to contribute. See for example the country report on guifi. However, in most rural areas in the developing world, the resident population is unlikely to be able to provide the needed resources, and external fundraising will be required.

In choosing targets for fundraising, it is worth noting that there are three intrinsic difficulties in raising funds for networks focused on remote and rural areas from traditional lenders, investors and soft funders banks, venture funds, development institutions, etc. This is because the overheads for due diligence and administering smaller disbursements are not so different from those for larger-scale projects, resulting in a relatively high cost of finance, especially if they are in remote and isolated locations which may be unfamiliar to the funder.

Also, many of these networks may be purely focused on provision of connectivity in a particular location, and may have little or no interest in scaling and replicating in ways that would create the larger projects that are more attractive to traditional funders.

Real and perceived levels of risk: There may be higher actual or perceived levels of risk by potential funders because the initiatives are based on novel business models, may be run by people with limited management skills, or use new technologies in unfamiliar contexts.

These initiatives may also lack land collateral or other asset sureties needed to provide guarantees for loans. Even if collateral is available, in many developing countries the cost of commercial bank loan finance is exceedingly high to reflect the high level of perceived risk, so this option is unlikely to be cost effective for a community network. Low surplus revenues: Networks serving remote and rural areas usually operate in locations with low income levels, and where operating costs are substantially higher in comparison to urban areas.

Therefore, the ability to service a loan or provide a return on an investment may be quite limited. This may disincentivise traditional investors in the telecommunication sector looking for higher returns. Given these considerations, community networking initiatives are likely to find raising the needed startup funds from commercial or other traditional lenders difficult.

Even soft loans from development funds are still currently more focused on large-scale national initiatives, and as conservative lenders or grant makers, they need to be convinced of the potential for the novel strategies and innovative business models of community networks. Ideally, local intermediaries acting for many networks could play a key role in this area, as they may be more familiar with the landscape and can better evaluate potential initiatives, aggregate needs, as well as manage the disbursement of funds received from large funding sources.

To meet the funding gap, a variety of other fundraising strategies can be considered: Universal service funds: National governments usually have universal service funds to support the provision of access in rural and underserved areas. Many of these have already accumulated large amounts of unspent funds, partly because of the limited capacity of regulators to evaluate and disburse funds, and also because of the paucity of effective projects to support.

Given the recent response of regulators and policy makers who have been sensitised to the potential of community networks, it would appear that this avenue of support is likely to become increasingly fertile in future. Grants and awards from Regional Internet Registries RIRs , cctld operators, the Internet Society, APC and other international NGOs and commercial tech organisations such as Facebook, Microsoft and Mozilla: While the funds available from these organisations are relatively small, these institutions have been the most common source of financial support for community networks to date.

Provision of in-kind services: These can reduce the startup and operating costs of the network by tapping into the corporate social responsibility CSR programmes of businesses, forming partnerships with local and international NGOs operating in the area and local government offices. Funds for the cross-subsidy can also come from other services provided, which may be unrelated to the provision of connectivity to the end-user for example, hosting remote sensing equipment weather, air quality, etc.

However, there may be interest from the diaspora and people in developed countries who have visited the area as volunteers or tourists, among others, in funding a local initiative. Conclusion This report aims to familiarise the reader with the most common strategies for minimising and sharing costs in community networks, and in raising the necessary financial and other resources to help support their long-term financial sustainability.

Given the relatively short time frame and difficult conditions in which community-based networks have emerged, the extent to which these strategies will help ensure a place for community networks in meeting the needs of connecting the unconnected is still unclear.

However, given the diversity of strategies that have already emerged and the level of interest in supporting community networking initiatives, the prognosis is good. Oghia One of the most significant problems vexing the information society is the lack of a holistic perspective when it comes to technical and policy development.

Take, for example, the issue of access to information. Often it is considered solely from a rights-based perspective i. Likewise, from technical protocol and standards development to content-related issues like hate speech, actors tend to organise among stakeholder groups and conduct their operations in silos.

Although the multistakeholder model is championed as a way to alleviate this tendency, there has yet to be a silver bullet that fully addresses the lack of holistic vision that is necessary to govern an inherently collaborative and global resource such as the internet while also addressing its fundamental challenges. If we revisit the example of access to information, we can see how this has played out with one particular and lingering problem: sustainability.

Democracy is built on the ability to access information, which is why access to information is such an important pillar of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda 1 along with the fact that access to information facilitates myriad social, educational and economic gains as well.

In a chapter I wrote titled Community networks as a key enabler of sustainable access, which was published in the Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity DC3 report 2 for the Internet Governance Forum IGF , I described how connecting another billion people to the internet will require more than an internet-connected device; such an endeavour requires significant long-term vision, investment in both technology and human capacity building, as well as communities committed to ensuring their access is useful, meaningful and sustainable.

For this to occur, however, such communities must be invested in the process of connectivity from energy access, to network set-up and maintenance as well as leading this process based on their own needs, context, and developmental challenges. Community networks are vital to catalysing this investment not in terms of financial investment, but in terms of community development. A key shift in thinking is necessary for this to happen, however, in part because 2 Oghia, M. Community networks as a key enabler of sustainable access.

I argued that one way this can change is by replacing the focus that sustainable development places on the role and proliferation of information and communications technologies ICTs with the concept of sustainable access a term I coined that broadly refers to the ability for any user to connect to the internet and then stay connected over time. Sustainable access encompasses various aspects of the relationship between technology, society and the environment everything from infrastructure, energy and the availability of radio spectrum, to the recyclability of ICTs, how internet-connected devices are manufactured, and even space junk.

The core thesis of this perspective is that internet technologies are largely unsustainable at present. This relates to overall lack of design consideration of ICTs for sustainability such as recycling or energy scaling , but also reflects serious challenges such as the exponential growth of data use and generation. Because of this, we cannot legitimately discuss internet access without addressing sustainability even though, conversely, ICT sustainability is largely viewed as a future concern, not a present one, and is therefore largely overlooked.

This is not the case for community networks, however, which generally operate in rural or remote areas that often do not have access to electrical grids, depending on the region. This point is emphasised in the chapter I wrote by outlining the role that community networks can play in catalysing sustainable access, and focusing on efforts and initiatives used by such networks to electrify their infrastructure and ensure their energy sustainability.

It also addresses how energy, the subsequent costs of infrastructure both initial investments and upgrades , and the inability to recycle equipment or use it over the long term can significantly hinder the sustainability and growth of a community network as well as its ability to scale. The chapter concludes by stressing how if we truly want digital technology and the myriad emerging technological innovations that are beginning to scale to become ubiquitous, sustainability must be addressed more prominently as a core component and within the design of ICTs.

We cannot disregard or downplay sustainability with the hope that the inherent problems with our digitised world disappear time will only exacerbate them. On the contrary, it is clear that there are unexplored and underemphasised synergies and areas of collaboration between the energy and ICT sectors, which undoubtedly include the internet governance community, that could better address sustainability as a whole.

Therefore, since sustainability and access are intrinsically connected, the role of community networks in ushering in the next phase of the internet s development should not be underestimated. Instead, it will benefit anyone seeking to make the internet more sustainable to offer more financial, technical, policy, legal and regulatory support to community networks, and ensure that such initiatives are viable, sustainable and successful.

Bidwell International University of Management, Namibia Introduction In this report I consider some of the meanings embedded in community networks, and the way they work together with power relations. A critical awareness of the interplay of meanings and power can inspire us to create new meanings that might better contribute to achieving aspirations, such as promoting the agency of all community network users.

I draw on my preliminary analysis of data generated in the past eight months about the social and gender impacts of community networks in the global South, and reflections on conversations within the Community Access Networks project, a research study into community networks globally that is led by the Association for Progressive Communications APC and funded by the International Development Research Centre IDRC. During my research so far at five community networks in Asia, Latin America and Africa, I generated data about people s everyday practices and opinions in relation to their network in focus groups and individual interviews.

Adapting my methods to suit each community network, I was privileged to interview men and women, individually or in groups, some repeatedly and extensively. This included community network initiators, champions, members, users and non-users. While all networks are rural, their socioeconomic and political contexts vary widely. Indices for the population s health, longevity, living standards and knowledge also vary 1 local-access-networks-can-unconnected-connect-themselves amongst the community networks; for instance, one is located in a country with very high human development, another in a country with high, two in countries with medium and one with low human development.

These countries also differ in gender equality, one high, two medium-to-high, and two countries with low gender equality. The intentions and the geographic scale of the operations of the initiatives I studied vary as widely as their socioeconomic and political contexts.

Some initiatives prioritise ethics about human rights to communicate or net neutrality, some are driven by research about technical solutions to provide firstmile internet access to rural people, and others seek to integrate information and communications technologies ICTs into local culture to address significant humanitarian challenges.

Some networks connect directly to individual people or homes, others connect via local not-for-profit or government centres; some are groups of local networks distributed over distances of km, and others are geographically localised. However, all initiatives self-identify as community networks, and all aim to improve access to low-cost telecommunications for people in rural areas.

Power relations and narratives Power relations between people enable one person, or group of people, to have more influence over another person or group. This influence operates through direct and indirect relationships between people and arises due to differences in socially agreed political or legal authority, or capability in certain domains, or economic status, or race, age or sexual orientation.

In some community networks, people explicitly referred to differences that are institutionalised according to formal categories such as refugees, internally displaced persons, indigenous people, tribe, caste and other backward classes. For instance, members said You don t come from our background to a woman employed to support a group of networks. We must, however, avoid oversimplifying power relations to only particular categories, as power relations intersect, and often less explicit power hierarchies emerge within community networks.

Consider, for instance, one aspect of power relations in a community network in a country with a high equality ranking and traditions of solidarity. One man in this network described three groups of local inhabitants: people like him, who moved permanently from the nearest large city within the past five or six years and established their main activity locally; people with weekend homes; and people whose families had lived in the area for generations. In this network, I interviewed many more people who were newcomers, like this man, than people with historical local ties, primarily because most participants were recruited through the community network s initiators closest social group.

One network initiator had family connections in the area but moved to a city where they met other initiators through the free software movement. Like other newcomers, the network initiators had greater physical and virtual mobility by virtue of their education, class, and varied income sources, as writers, teachers and software developers. Interview participants with historical local ties, on the other hand, were working-class and had manual jobs.

A woman user of the network, with historical local ties, explained that there had always been people from far away staying in weekend homes but recently a dramatic increase in newcomers had elevated property prices and filled the area with strangers who displayed an unwarranted ownership of the little town. The community network acts as a bridge between inhabitants, and people with historical local ties said that it had facilitated connections that contributed to new opportunities for business and socialising.

People with historical local ties chose to associate with this community network and, as for some other community networks I studied, there were alternative providers of the same services. Interviews also illustrated that the network s initiators actively encouraged members with historical local ties to host meetings to decide about the community network and lead the technical workshops that are more or less mandatory for membership.

Nonetheless, people with historical local ties were more reluctant to be interviewed and, unlike the network s initiators, were less forthcoming about certain views, which suggests that the network s initiators have greater influence over the meanings associated with the network. Some meanings associated with community networks repeated across the networks I studied, and this report illustrates how these meanings inherit from other stories, through elements such as narratives and tropes.

Such story elements are recognisable concepts and patterns of ordering that help us understand and communicate about new situations. Narrative selects and puts events and thoughts together into some coherent sequence to convey a particular perspective on a story. Tropes are archetypal narratives that use other familiar stories to make a perspective clear; for instance, the trope of David and Goliath is about competition in which the little guy is the hero.

Whose story counts? A David and Goliath trope permeates narratives about resisting concentrations of power. Across my research, champions, and some network members, referred to the role of community networks in opposing domination by technology and telecommunications giants, which often linked to other critical attitudes about multinational corporations and monopolistic control. Some of my data, however, suggests that airing views that might be tagged politically liberal and progressive was more comfortable for community network members with greater cultural capital, such as people with university educations or professional jobs.

For instance, in the community network that illustrated power relations between newcomers and people with historical local ties, it was the initiators who emphasised resisting, or perhaps evading, aggressive or unaccountable control by technology companies.

People with historical local ties, on the other hand, more often associated the network with affordability, and its not-for-profit or communal ethos. In fact, interviews with people in this network revealed different perspectives with respect to corporations and control; for example, newcomers opposed the possible location of a new mine in the area, linked to contesting the extractive nature of transnational companies in general, but people with historical local ties were more likely to mention that a mine brings employment.

That is, despite this network s considerable efforts towards inclusivity, a foundational narrative that relates community networks to resisting concentrations of power did not have similar relevance to all network members. However, the meaning of concepts such as emancipation varies amongst people at the grassroots in community networks.

In one set of networks, in a highly resource-constrained setting, a major transnational technology consulting company funded solar and other infrastructure. In another set, in a country that favours both capitalist development and government involvement in digital participation, the ability of low-income rural women to shop with Amazon.

Meanwhile, impoverished members of a cooperative that founded yet another community network hoped the network s growth would directly profit their families. The agency of diverse people in effecting narratives about community networks and meanings about, say, autonomy, emancipation and decoloniality in relation to telecommunications, differs.

Unequal agency in shaping narratives about community networks can compromise some of the freedoms and rights pursued by the overarching community network movement. The worth of human connectedness The next narrative that repeated in the community networks I studied values human connectedness in a certain way.

Participants stories, in interviews and focus groups, often referred to the role of social ties, sociality and sociability in obtaining or achieving something else, such as economic improvements or safety. Accessible communications had enhanced some participants job prospects through studying for formal qualifications or improving their English language skills, and real-time business-to-customer or business-to-business relationships, such as sharing information about agricultural market prices amongst sustenance farmers, and about components amongst electronic repair businesses.

Members of different community networks also mentioned the impact of solidarity on their safety; in one network different people explained that they were able to coordinate to apprehend a burglar; in another, that they had been able to call a taxi to take an old man who had fainted back to the village from a remote field, and coordinate together to save a donkey cart, full of provisions, when it fell down a mountain.

That is, participants tended to frame human connectedness instrumentally. Instrumental narratives about human connectedness also featured in a set of networks in a region that endured war for many years and hosts millions of refugees and displaced people. Severe conflict, and some post-conflict actions, have undermined people s trust in institutions, neighbours and even family members, and the network s initiator prioritised peaceful coexistence in all activities, emphasising traditional practices of people coming together in dialogues to manage disputes, such as about land or water, and organising host-refugee events, such as football matches.

The initiator rationalised cohesion and inclusion by explaining that You won t go anywhere with excluding because tomorrow you might need the people that you exclude. Such a narrative resonates with an, albeit controversial, argument in international development discourse which proposes that social capital, resulting from social ties, enables people to satisfy everyday socioeconomic needs, such as access to advice or money. Instrumentalist interpretations can be applied not only to social ties but also to people s felt experience of human connectedness, or the emotions, intuitions and morals a person senses in social relationships.

At this level, a person s felt experience of collectivity, such as in setting up a network with others, might function in building trust; and a person s felt experience of social expectations about digital participation, say through social media, might function in accruing cultural capital and mobilising social assets.

Facilitators in one set of networks, for instance, noticed that feelings of connectedness with children powerfully motivated women to learn to use technology. Narratives that emphasise the worth of felt experiences of human connectedness according to their utility in solving certain problems or efficacy in predicting certain states of development are useful for justifying in wider arenas, such as evaluating community networks against the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mundane human decision making is not mostly rational, and the intrinsic worth of felt experiences of human connectedness in everyday life is that such feelings exist. Participants told how community networks contributed to averting loneliness, sharing joy with remote family, feeling the presence of intimates through phatic contact, and feeling pride in caring for their community.

Users in two networks said that they supported the network not because it enhanced their own access to telecommunications but, rather, because it enabled access for more disadvantaged local inhabitants. In driving the community network agenda, we do not make explicit the intrinsic value of felt experiences when humans connect to other humans. We have shared in the past on this forum our memories of a sell out AWB gig at the Liverpool Empire back in Best wishes Nigel.

It would be ideal to host your band. What a treat it would be to get you all to Liverpool in the near future. We will be at the to see Tommy Blaize on 30th November and hope to get to one of your gigs there. Subject: new brighton. Author: mike murphy Soooooo Happy [ Edit View ]. I never miss on opportunity to catch your gigs when you "come up north" Heck of a band mate. Got my telecaster cranked up, playing along with the live album.

Oh by the way, you were entirely correct last night when you said Once again Hamish, thank you Subject: Ropetackle, Shoreham. Author: Simon Groovin' [ Edit View ]. Looked like the whole band was having a ball, great sound, with you in great voice and Ash particularly hot. We love the venue, nice and local for your loyal "Worthing massive". Come again soon please. All the best. Subject: Darvel Music Festival. Subject: Back to all things Hamish. Subject: Gig Availability.

Author: Colin Walker [ Edit View ]. What costs would be involved? Thanks and regards, Colin. Subject: Album. Just about to start our fourth mix Cherry Blossom Time. All sounding fabulous. The playing on everything is a joy to behold.

Hope to finish next week and get this as yet untitled puppy out there asap. We've made this record the old fashioned way, which can only mean one thing- FUN! Watch out for this one. Best, Hame. Subject: gig. Author: Russell Andrews [ Edit View ]. I'd not been before but I gather it is one of your spiritual homes - it certainly felt like it was. We went with two friends who are not soaked in music but they were blown away by the quality of musicianship, the intimacy of the place and the joy of the music itself.

So good!! As I mentioned in the bar, look out for the Legend of Barney Thompson movie - macabre goings on in downtown Glasgow. Subject: Person T Person - Album. Author: Hamish Stuart Wow! Another great couple of days at Smoketree, as we inch closer to completing this album. The basic tracks are so good that everything else is just gravy. Ross Stanley came in yesterday and added a couple of fresh keyboard parts to a couple of songs and I've been doing guitar overdubs and chasing those elusive vocal performances.

Will spend tomorrow, before the gig, reviewing the last couple of tunes to make sure nothing escapes. It's all sounding superb and we're rounding the final turn into Mix mode. Always tricky but inevitably rewarding. Looking forward so much to the finished product. First , vinyl only. A gatefold sleeve? Subject: Band. Author: Hamish Stuart Shplendid! Sounds very nice indeed! Subject: Matt. Author: Raymond Chapman sorry [ Edit View ].

Prostate cancer is something all blokes should be very aware of. I myself was a victim of it and also bowel cancer but I am now in remission. Great to hear you have a new album coming out in the near future and I look forward to being able to order a copy of your Solo ep.

Have sent Kenny Murray an eMail hope to hear back soon. Take care Raymond. Subject: News. There a quite a few changes taking place on the website which will be ongoing till it's all up to date. Thanks to all who made it to the Person To Person shows. It was a fun experience but reaffirmed the need to not just play the old songs and keep moving on.

To that end we'll have a new album out in the next few months. We had a great time recording together again and we agreed that it was just like the old days when making records was a really fun process and was about 'the moment'. We will also be doing more shows together whenever we can. We will start selling albums from the site soon too which should help out those folks who are having trouble finding the music. Subject: solo ep.

Author: Raymond Chapman [ Edit View ]. I was wondering if it was still possible to get your solo ep. I had a copy but it has got lost Hope to get to see you playing somewhere soon cheers. Author: Paul Bailey [ Edit View ]. And a song of substance. Well played and well sung. It stays with you, if you know what I mean. It sticks to the bone. Thank you, Hamish. Subject: Christmas. Author: PeterF [ Edit View ]. Christmas album 40 quid! Any other outlets please? Cheers, Peter.

Re: Christmas -- Hamish Stuart Christmas? Subject: Queens Hall. Individually and collectively the band was spot on. The audience loved it. What a group of truly proper musicians - brilliantly led by Hamish. His rendition of 'Cloudy' was simply sublime. Just can't give you up.

Subject: Thankyou for an amazing gig! Author: Tooley [ Edit View ]. Amazing material to start with, but so brilliantly played - couldn't stop smiling the entire way through :- Memories of my late teenage years came flooding back hearing those songs live again - and of playing footie with you and Steve Ferrone in the Great Hall at Lancaster University before that night's gig on the Feel No Fret tour! To hear Goin' Home played live was one of the few missing items on my musical wish list up there with seeing Joni live, which sadly I doubt will be fulfilled Totally cooked!!!

Could happily sit and listen to the whole thing again night after night So thanks once more - the memory of last night will stick around for a long, long time to come. Re: Thankyou for an amazing gig! Subject: Ronnie Scotts. Author: Colin L [ Edit View ]. Got home and saw you were playing there in the programme of events that I had picked up.

Seeing Soul Searching live was always one of my great ambitions and, of course, it was sold out. Wrote to the club about returns and got the call at on Friday afternoon - two tickets available. Can't tell you how much Helen and I enjoyed it - it was just way way too short!!

Here's to the next time?? All the best Colin L. Subject: Future gigs and CD availability. Seeing AWB in November as part compensation! Any ideas on getting hold of Real Live - no joy on the link on your website. I've got Sooner or Later but that's all. Subject: Person to Person. Just can't Music Sweet Music. Roy Fellows. Subject: Person To Person. That's it! I've been looking forward to this and it's already exceeded expectations.

Subject: Blues on the farm. Author: Simon boppin' [ Edit View ]. Back home, after a slightly restless night in the back of my van, following a few beers, and your set at Blues on the Farm. Just Sublime. Despite a sparse crowd, I thought you and the band nailed it, great foh mix too. And the brass was icing on the cake -un'cut' of course! Over coffee and a bacon roll this morning, a wizened old blues hack told me it was the best Thursday they'd had in years.

Should think so too. Anyway, we both look forward to seeing you at Ronnies Scotts, with Steve and Molly, shortly. All the best, Simon. Subject: Some other time. Author: Will Beautifull. I listened to the words of the song and cried all the way through the song. Sadly she passed away a few weeks later. I have trawled the internet you tube, I tunes you name it I've looked.

However I cannot find your version anywhere. If you happen to see this post or if any of your readers know where I can get a copy please let me know. Author: Roy Fellows [ Edit View ]. For me, better than with The Suspicions. I will be there anyway, but it would be great to see Snake in The Horn Section. He sat on the fence - was non committal. With the passage of time, are you able to satisfy my curiosity?

All Hamish fans please check this beautiful, beautiful song - written by Hamish, sung by him 'Warmer Communications' , and the lyrics. Superb lyrics. Was She a Dream? What do you think? Yes or No? Let me know Or was the illusion being being kept alive. Subject: 'She's a Dream'. Great gig. Snake is a master saxophonist.

Snake did say he had spoken with Hamish in the last few days - have seen Snake him with The Hamish Stuart Band previously. Please please check out 'She's a Dream'Warmer Communications - oh my giddy aunt. This is Hamish - written and sung by him - it is so fresh.

Music Sweet Music Roy Fellows. Subject: Re: Person To Person. Author: Jill Very Happy! It will be great to see the AWB guys together. Can't wait for this next gig! Please don't ever stop performing Hamish! We decided there and then to do it again and this July became the best window in all our schedules. We'll be performing our album Soul Searching in it's entirety. This has never been done before but lends itself to being approached this way, as it has a beginning, an end and lots of meat in the middle.

A pretty formidable set of tunes which have stood the test of time, some of which I've continued to play over the non AWB years. Revisiting this material has been a joy to do and I'm looking forward to playing all the music after so long with two of the individuals who were instrumental in creating it.

Cheers for now. Subject: Welcome. Robbie Mac would have become a pensioner yesterday. He will be missed till there are no more days. My oldest friend Matt Irving who travelled to London with me, from Glasgow 46 years ago to make our first record for Decca turned 65 on March 16th. He got his first pension and took his mates to lunch and was happy to find that it was enough to cover the lunch check. Two of my handful of best friends died 40 years apart, both went too soon.

Ben E. King, or 'Benny' , as he became, was a lovely man and a musical hero, whose rendition of Stand BY Me will live as long as music is played. We had a ball making the album 'Benny and Us' and had many good times together. When the movie Stand By Me was a hit Benny called me in Los Angeles, where I was living at the time and was so excited that the song that had given him his career was giving him yet another gift.

He was in LA doing tv and radio and press and was back on top and very happy. I missed him last time he was in London and had hoped to see him next time but that was not to be. RIP Ben E. Also farewell to an old neighbour Errol Brown.

Farewell old friends. We carry on and on and on. Last year we had a reunion of sorts when I played a show with my band and the reunited Kokomo in Darvel. As we got on the plane I said to singer Frank-do you realise the last time we boarded a plane together was 38 years ago? We did a tour of the US and the UK within a year and had a lot of fun, as we did last year in Darvel.

We were always musical kindred spirits and continue to be. It will be special again I know. A day of great groove from beginning to end. Hope to see you there as we celebrate our musical legacy together. Best to all, Hamish. Subject: Robbie. Author: Grant [ Edit View ]. Great man and talent. As an AWB fan..

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