IGF 2019 WS #391 Community Networks: Opportunities, Challenges and Solutions

Organizer 1: Jane Coffin, Internet Society
Organizer 2: Sebastian Bellagamba, Internet Society
Organizer 3: Paula Corte Real, Internet Society
Organizer 4: Katie Watson, Internet Society

Speaker 1: Sebastian Bellagamba, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Carlos Rey Moreno, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Valeria Betancourt, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Policy Question(s): 

What factors should be considered when choosing Community Networks as a complementary way to connect the unconnected?
How can policy makers and governments work with underserved, rural, remote, and Indigenous areas to empower them to create their own connectivity solutions?
What needs to be done to reduce or eliminate barriers to Community Network deployment either in legislative, administrative or regulatory environments? How can different approaches to spectrum usage and innovative licensing help spread and support such model?
How can we promote a multistakeholder approach for building up those networks? What role can other stakeholders play to empower these communities to build, own, and operate their own connectivity solutions?

Relevance to Theme: According to the United Nations, 49% of the world is still unconnected, most of those people live in unserved urban, rural and remote communities. There are several factors that contribute to this scenario, from difficulties on access to physical infrastructure to affordability and high-cost connectivity. Community Networks are a complementary solution for providing accessible and affordable connectivity through locally owned, built, and managed access networks. It is at the core of digital inclusion and provides access by the people, for the people, and with the people. The session will discuss the benefits, challenges and what can be done from a policy perspective to enable and promote this complementary model for digital inclusion. How changes to old rules - universal service funds, licensing, and access to spectrum -- can help connect the unconnected.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Internet Governance encompasses a broad range of issues, access and connectivity comes first and are crucial to Internet’s evolution and democratization. With roughly half of the planet unconnected, global trade and development organizations, the Internet technical community, and small local community networks are talking to each other about the importance of collaboration to connect the unconnected for sustainable socio-economic development. Closing the digital divide is critical and community networks offer a solution. From different initiatives, it shows how building up partnerships towards a common goal can make governments, private sector and civil society work together.

Format: 

Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min

Description: This roundtable will serve as an opportunity to discuss unique challenges communities face around the world and some of the innovative projects currently being implemented to connect them, while working with key partners to amplify local sustainability and empowerment. It will bring together communities, technical experts, policy makers and civil society organizations representatives to share their views on how can Community Networks be an innovative a viable option to help connect the unconnected.

It will give special focus on policy and regulatory frameworks discussing challenges and solutions envisioned to implement and promote this complementary model of connectivity. Representatives from different stakeholder groups will share their perspectives on research findings or their local access initiatives as well as on their responsibilities to create an enabling ecosystem for the emergence and growth of community networks and other community-based connectivity initiatives in developing countries.

Participants will also hear about convenings, such as the Indigenous Connectivity Summit, existing connectivity projects run by, for and with unserved people, and best practices moving forward. It will bring a perspective on how communities are creating an environment in which they can create innovative connectivity solutions, such as community networks, that lead to self-empowerment and sustainability, as well as inclusion of women and young people for socio-economic development through connectivity partnerships.

The roundtable is provisionally composed by the following speakers:
Technical Community
Sebastian Bellagamba, ISOC, Uruguay

Community Networks
Geoffrey Blackwell, representative from the Indigenous Connectivity Summit, Northwest Territories of Canada
Carlos Rey-Moreno, APC, South Africa

Civil Society
Valeria Betancourt, APC, Ecuador

Private Sector
Gonzalo Lopez-Barajas Huder, Telefonica, Spain

Intergovernamental Organization
Doreen Bogdan-Martin, ITU

Expected Outcomes: As a result of the session it is expected to come out clear recommendations from a dialogue built on challenges, experiences and examples that can help address barriers in policy and regulatory frameworks encountered by various communities. Different communities face different challenges and each country has different access agendas and regulatory and policy solutions, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, the proposed session aims to offer different views and policy perspectives to promote and strengthen the expansion of community networks as a viable complementary alternative to bridge the digital divide.

Onsite Moderator: 

Sebastian Bellagamba, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Online Moderator: 

Paula Corte Real, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Rapporteur: 

Katie Watson, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Discussion Facilitation: 

There will be separate time for questions and answers, the Onsite Moderator will encourage participants to speak promoting an interactive session. Online participation will also be encouraged and the Online Moderator will report comments and questions from remote participants. There will also be a hashtag to promote the session and stimulate remote participation through social media platforms.

Online Participation: 

The Online Moderator will constantly check interactions from online participants. The Onsite Moderator will refer to the platform to promote engagement and active participation from online attendants.

Proposed Additional Tools: Prior to the session, a hashtag will be created and shared in social media (Twitter in particular) to promote visibility and encourage remote participation.

SDGs: 

GOAL 1: No Poverty
GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals