2018 - Community Networks

This 2018 edition of GISWatch focuses primarily on community-owned networks for the provision of physical communications infrastructure.

Affordable and reliable internet access infrastructure has become a vital means of communication and access to information, to exercise fundamental human rights and to support economic, social and human development. However, as the internet becomes more ubiquitous, less is being heard from those who are unconnected –the less wealthy and more marginalised – who are unable to exercise their rights on the same footing. Those who do not have access are doubly excluded: excluded from the “new” world of information and communications that the internet delivers, and also excluded from the “old” analogue world they used to have access to – even if imperfectly – because so many of those services and opportunities are increasingly only available online. Ending digital exclusion is not simply a matter of improving the coverage of mobile broadband services, but also of improving the affordability and coverage of both fixed and mobile local network infrastructures and services, along with building the technical and human capacity to ensure reliability, the ability to deploy low-cost and open-access locally owned network infrastructures, and the ability to use the resulting connectivity in applications and content of local interest and benefit to local communities.

The 2018 edition of GISWatch focuses on local access models, specifically, community networks as self-organised, self-managed or locally developed solutions for local access, based on the conviction that one of the keys to affordable access is giving local people the skills and tools to solve their own connectivity challenges. Instead of buying an access service from a large corporate entity, community networks allow community members to self-provide and share infrastructure.

The 43 country reports included in this year's Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) capture the different experiences and approaches in setting up community networks across the globe. They show that key ideas, such as participatory governance systems, community ownership and skills transfer, as well as the “do-it-yourself” spirit that drives community networks in many different contexts, are characteristics that lend them a shared purpose and approach.

The country reports are framed by eight thematic reports that deal with critical issues such as the regulatory framework necessary to support community networks, sustainability, local content, feminist infrastructure and community networks, and the importance of being aware of “community stories” and the power structures embedded in those stories.

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Thematic Reports

Country Reports

  • Internet Society Chapters in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Guyana, Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, Barbados and Panama and ISOC Blockchain Special Interest Group
  • Asociación Civil AlterMundi and Red Comunitaria QuintanaLibre
  • Media and Communications, Swinburne University of Technology
  • POPDEV Bénin
  • Fonias Jurua Project
  • Instituto Nupef
  • First mile
  • guifi.net community
  • Danwei and Media Monitor for Women Network
  • Colnodo
  • Mesh Bukavu
  • Cooperativa Sulá Batsú
  • Anonymous
  • Small and Medium Telecom Operators Association of Georgia; Tusheti Development Fund
  • Freifunk
  • Afrotribune
  • Sarantaporo.gr
  • : Red de Desarrollo Sostenible-Honduras and Internet Society Honduras Chapter
  • Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF)
  • Gram Marg rural broadband project, Department of Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
  • Advisor to Forum Masyarakat Adat Dataran Tinggi Borneo (FORMADAT)
  • University of Trento, CNIT and ninux.org
  • Tunapanda Institute
  • Internet Society Kyrgyzstan Chapter
  • Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
  • REDES A.C., Rhizomatica and Colectivo Ik’ta K’op
  • Alternative Solutions for Rural Communities (ASORCOM)
  • Internet Society (ISOC)
  • National Innovation Centre
  • Fantsuam Foundation
  • Wireless for Communities Pakistan
  • Communication Department, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú
  • University of the Philippines – Diliman and University of Washington
  • WirelessPT
  • Independent researcher
  • Zenzeleni
  • The University of Dodoma, College of Informatics and Virtual Education; Internet Society
  • Internet Education and Research Laboratory (intERLab) – Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Net2Home Social Enterprise
  • iGmena
  • BOSCO Uganda
  • Digital Equity Laboratory, The New School; Detroit Community Technology Project
  • Venezuela
  • Macha Works