The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Jalisco, Mexico, from 5 to 9 December 2016. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> MODERATOR: We are waiting for the streaming to be ready. Apologies for the delay. Is it ready? We are part of a social experiment to know how people react when they have to wait for a session but the social experiment will finish soon, I hope. Actually, we can start providing a couple of information on the Coalition. I mean, it will be on the transcript, so could we start? Can I start providing some information and then we will, ten seconds, okay.
We are waiting for connectivity. While we are waiting I know there are a lot of people that are involved in community, networks community connectivity experiment here in the room. Would you please raise your hand who we know who is working with this thing here? Wonderful. Excellent. So we have a lot of extra experts. So good morning to everyone, welcome to this first meeting of the Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity. It's interesting to see so many people in the first meeting of this coalition. We decided to create this coalition last year at the ‑‑ it was organized on community networks because we feel there is a ‑‑ that it is an issue that has to be explored.
There are a lot of people doing amazing projects and have amazing ideas on community connectivity, but those people are not speaking amongst each other and were not interacting and they didn't have the visibility that they deserved. I think we have been quite good at our job over the past eleven months because actually I see there is already some good visibility for people that are doing these great jobs and many of those people, well, not many, some of them because there is really a great amount of doing community networks, but many of them have decided to describe their model, their project in this book, in this report there are free copies in this box. You can download it for free if you go Internet‑Government.FGV. You will have the E‑Book for free.
So without losing any further time with the presentations, let me introduce you to the speakers. We have Bob Frankston who is an Internet pioneer and, we will have Nicolas Echaniz that is also the Chair of the Dynamic Coalition, and then have Roger Baig from ISOC CAT and also from the network. We will also have Leandro Navarro, who is affiliated to the University of Catalonia, and then we have Maureen Hernandez who is an independent researcher, Anya Orlova, Carlos Rey‑Moreno for the University of Cape Town, and last but not least, Ritu Strivastava from the Digital Empowerment Foundation. I would like to ask Bob to start the debate with some provocative talks that I know he is always very happy to share.
>> BOB FRANKSTON: I'm glad I'm asked to be provocative because the Internet does not make sense. We are used to the narrative telecommunications where everything is a service that somebody is providing it, and setting a price, and that, and connectivity of the Internet variety is very different. It's the opposite. You don't have built in solutions. So when we have a conversation here, it's very aspirational. People talk about rights, they talk about all of the results they want, but what's counterintuitive is that those results are not actually inside the infrastructure.
The infrastructure is really only very agnostic in activity where there is just packets. The way to think about it is not as a utility, but as I tried to explain on Monday it's more like sidewalks, roads and just the passive facilities you use and then we use software to create the services ourselves. And, again, that's a longer conversation, so I really want to just use it to structure the talk at this point.
Now, sort of an ideal sort of end game, you would just have raw packets and then anybody would want, be able to create services and we would ‑‑ the key distinction between infrastructure like sidewalks that's free to use and free because we have to be sustainable, we have to be very aware of the economic model, and the traditional economic model ties funding to particular services.
We want to access something, you pay something for access, you pay for bytes. With the Internet, again, being like sidewalks, you need to find common infrastructure and that's really hard to sell. So part of the confusion we have had is we talk about services and paying for them, but we are really creating this common facility. But we also want to create solutions in the interim. So we have a lot of cases where we build in certain functions because when you talk about more connectivity, if you are very technical, you have to discover what works, that if you have, like one example I use is Voice Over IP.
We originally built the system we built in knowledge of telephony into the network, it made perfect sense, you paid a phone company to make sure phone calls work. Voice Over IP didn't happen that way. It happened because one use of connectivity, the Web, generated enough capacity, and then people discovered voice and video worked, and they were free once you had the connectivity.
So these make it hard to sort of explain why we need to do it, but also, so the challenge is if you want to provide voice, short term, if you have very few facilities, you might decide to make that a priority and that's good, but you have to think at the same time in the longer term and how do we create and fund agnostic connectivity. The good news is that all of the stories you see about how much connectivity costs, how much wires cost, those are all based on a pricing model of service providers.
Once you have passive infrastructure, the community owns it, and that's really what makes it sustainable. You don't have to pay a monthly fee as an owner. So the key thing is to understand that, and once you realize it is sort of passive infrastructure, we have a path towards sustainable funding. And, again, I think I could say more later, but I want to give people a chance to talk about their projects and where they fit in the framework. One is Altermundi because it is community on passive infrastructure that people decide how to use themselves but I recognize in the interim we have other models as we work towards that future.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Bob, for that and an essential element is sustainability and how to foster connectivity in a sustainable fashion. And starting from this reflection actually, we decided to do this book not only to highlight the model, the architectural model that people around the world have been using to produce community networks, to establish and manage them but also the governance model that allows people to jointly manage, design, and build community networks.
>> BOB FRANKSTON: One more point I want to throw in, smaller networks you talk about people volunteer and contributing, but you have to think of it as a funding model. It's just as valid for the community to pool the resource to hire somebody versus do it themselves and that's an engineering choice. If you have the right people, right skills you can do it yourself, but you have to learn how to use the technology. It's also valid to pool the resources and pay for them as you get into communities. That's why we have Governments. Not because you want to impose regulations, but it's simply the mechanism used when people get together and need a more formal mechanism at a larger scale. So if we start to scale connectivity from the edge rather than something piped in, we have a sustainable model that can grow.
>> MODERATOR: Thanks a lot and also another very important element that we want to stimulate on which we want to stimulate a discussion today and in the next years is also to think that so far we have the paradigm that we have used to connect people is indeed to try to connect them rather than giving them the knowledge and know‑how resources to do it themselves. So the question here today is not how to connect those 4 million, billion people that are still connected but how to allow them to create their own infrastructure and connect themselves.
So we have very good examples, and examples today and I we like to start with Leandro Navarro that is there, that has been doing amazing job. So maybe you can start and you can both speak about the governance with the network and the organisation, the results of the network. You both can share this amongst you.
>> LEANDRO NAVARRO: Okay. So my comments or my notes will come from one chapter you will find in the book, which is ‑‑ it's about setting the scene. We did it last July in Barcelona to try to put together like all of the main ingredients in implementing efficient collaboration between the main stakeholders which is Governments, citizens and enterprises which are around network infrastructures.
So we were trying to focusing on ‑‑ we were focusing on the three pillars. It was the governance of the different participants, the regulation and the implementation of infrastructures of course on the focus on fiber deployments which is the trendy topic and also with the European perspective. So I recommend you to try this at kind of meetings, workshops, discussions to clarify this scenario in different regions because the result will be different probably.
So in Europe at least telecommunications networking is a public service provided by private entities, and regulated, in a regulated competition. So it's a complex environment. It's one of the most complex services probably. So in the first block like in terms of governance, we were discussing about like the difference between the models we typically know and those that emerge from community networks. Later on Roger will recommend more. We call it the common source models in which we pool network segments provided by citizens or by companies or whatever, and then the result of pulling these network segments in a cooperative manner results in producing connectivity.
This is the result of building these comments it's like in natural comments you can think about a forest which produces fruits and then so what we get from these comments is the connectivity, abundant connectivity for the participants. And it's not a club. It's not limited to the ones who can pay the entrance fee, but it's non‑excludable, but resources are limited. And then we discuss how that maps into topics.
Roger can say more about that. We are also looking at how do public administrations shape the landscape because in Europe at least colors like white, gray and black areas depending on the state of competition, and we also discuss about the causal reaction directives which is related to an ITU directive of sharing or infrastructure sharing.
And then we enter into the topic of discussion of regulation issues. So in Europe we talk about electronic communication networks and we talk about like sharing similar works through use cost, things related to how administrations, public administrations can provide services like the schools or libraries, specific case. We have recent news about the public Wi‑Fi service. Many cities offer public Wi‑Fi. The European Commission is now supporting public Wi‑Fi. Let's say free for the citizens in the whole, in all of Europe as a kind of incentive for development.
It is a tricky point about how operators can occupy the public space, bright operators can occupy the operate space, so we talk about the principles that administrations have to be neutral and act as a private investor so they cannot subsidize competitive deployments and there is a factor to take into account.
We also, I mean, the regulation has Principles, but these principles are not fully detailed. So, for instance, in this workshop we discuss about the universal format that Ethernet provides to regulate how public use, private use and community use of fiber deployments, but it could be applied to spectrum can be regulated. So it's a kind of template ordinance that is more municipalities can apply to define regulations which are competitive with all of the layers of rules that apply to telecom provision.
So this part of regulation was interesting because we could understand each other. We could talk with each other and understand the different perspectives, restrictions and so on and then we move to the process of deployment, of implementation of the infrastructures. And then we got several opinions from the European level, for instance, the European Commission, and how, how let's say it's allowed to legal in terms of investment in infrastructures, and how they talk about market failures, there are many regions in Europe which are under a market failure, and then how the public can support these investments in these areas to create a market, let's say.
And, for instance, we heard about the European Investment Bank, the bank commission is about 300 billion Euros into the next period of a few years because they see that development of infrastructures is critical for the sustainability, for the development of Europe, and one of the ways of doing that is by connecting communities and supporting communities to develop their own infrastructures.
And, in summary, you would see in the report like there are many, many models. We know about the commercial models, which are based on external investment and profit extraction from the community, let's say, from the users. We also talk about these common models in which it's like when we talk about collaborative community nowadays we think about other things.
So it's a comments oriented collaborative community in which people can invest and people can get service, and the result of that is really a lot of connectivity. The best probably providers in Europe are community networks, I mean, given the performance numbers we could check. So in a way, it's like, it's like ‑‑ it provides viable alternatives for everyone. It developed cooperatively, and, of course, you can use it to provide higher level, higher value services which can be commercial, can be professional, can be volunteer‑based, which enables everyone to access digital work and the digital documents.
So you will find all of the details in the report. That's why we wrote it, and by the way, I encourage you to try at home to try to put together like the public administration, the commercial providers, the communities, the citizens and try to find ways to go through this strange and complex maze of rules and models and create trust because the interest of everyone in this context is citizens can get abundant connectivity for everyone and that seems to be possible although it takes some time.
>> MODERATOR: Thanks, and I think it is very interesting to stress two elements that you mentioned, one that is a side effect, a positive externality of this is the creation of a social organisation around the community network, so the creation of the building of trust amongst community members and also the stimulation of some more social organisations than what already we have, and the second, the second point I think it is very important is the fact that these networks are not only some solution that could be utilized for rural and low income communities but something that could be implemented in urban environment and can integrate the connection where the market does not have an interest to connect individuals.
So I think Roger will have much more, other more useful comments on this, particularly on the technical side on which he has been very much involved.
>> ROGER BAIG: Thank you very much, and thanks for the invitation. Here we are I'm going to present the third chapter. It's called comment oriented framework for community networks. This is about a comparative analysis of the community networks we know, but probably there are much more. This chapter is structured in three main sections. First we make a review of concept of comments in the context of digital society because community networks resolve around this common concept.
The second we present in the framework we have developed for this competitive analysis and then the third chapter we, in the third part we apply it to classify and compare the, some community networks we know. So network infrastructure is made by layers. On the lowest we have the passive layer, and then we have to operate the passive layer to transmit bits and on top of this we can develop service. So we should identify three layers and depending on how we operate these layers, we will have one more or another in general of how to make telecommunications.
We can have very monolithic model where a single layer deploys, operates and provides services. We may have other, and this could be the traditional monolithic, monopolistic idea. We could have some sort of cooperation in the lower layers like in the open access models, and then we could even identify a more cooperative alternative which community networks fit in this.
And this here, the concept of comments, it's well studied by the Nobel Prize Elinor Olstrom and she was elaborating on the concept of common resource and we found that this concept is very useful to deal with community networks. Community networks revolve around two principles. I guess these two principles would be accepted by everybody because they are political, politically they are required, but if you think about them, they have very deep implications, and these are very simple, non‑discrimination, and openness to participation.
But this, as I said, these have very deep implications. For instance, nondiscrimination immediately means open access and for instance in terms of pricing it must be cost oriented or at least there are means to implement these principles. Of course, if everybody can come with another solution, it's welcome, but it has to be compatible with the principle otherwise it's not, the solution does not work.
And the openness to participation is directly related to governance. This is something that was already addressed here. As I said, the common pool resource concept works very well, but the problem we found is that most of the works and the literature available analyze not real common pool resources, and here we are dealing with an artificial resource that is human‑made resource that must be operated and have, may have strong investment costs, and, yes, and this fits into this so‑called digital comments as a specific case and then we have server, it could be another comments, digital comment. We have open contents but in this case we are talking a very specific type of artificial comments and, again, it's one of the last studied by the literature available.
So it's also, these terms have already appeared around the rivalry and all of this. When we talk about, and this is already related to which technology we use. In fiber we have a very interesting case. It's virtually limited the capacity of the fiber. So if we come with a system to share it with a single deployment, it should suffice for at least a lot of people. Another aspect is the stakeholders involved, and this is a common concept here of multi‑stakeholderism and so on.
We identified three main players here which are on the one hand we have the public administrations. They have the duty, the obligation to regulate the public spaces. So at least to deploy networks, you must occupy public spaces so at least they have to get involved in this sense because in general, we also find that public administrations try not to get involved with community networks. It's something marginal. It's something for the unconnected. These concepts can also be applied in a developed country on a very dense city. I dare say that community networks is a right.
So it doesn't depend on where you live, where you come from, you have the right to develop your own network infrastructure wherever you are. So going back to the first stakeholder we have identified, the public administrations, so at least they must get involved in this regard of organising the public space, but they can also be more proactive and here while facilitating spaces, for instance, groups in public buildings for Wi‑Fi deployment, for instance, or access to ducts in the roads to lay out fiber and they can be more productive and self‑satisfy their needs through the commercial options inside the community networks which is another concept that sometimes is misunderstood. Community networks does not mean free. It's not incompatible with business. I would say even the contrary.
We need business to make them sustainable. And this is another topic. To move forward because I'm getting too slow, in the application section we look at the technology, the membership, the type of members implied. The legal Forum if there is some organisation behind how they are funded and how Internet is provided inside these communities. I'm going fast.
We analyze 36 communities and the conclusions are very fast. The community networks appear all around the globe. The communication among us it sometimes happens but Forums like this are very useful to make a common understanding and just to finish technology doesn't matter. Sustainability is a key issue so we cannot skip this, and this implies businesses and so on, Governments, it's also crucial, and then as I said, community networks we must take them as a right so we can implement them wherever we want.
>> MODERATOR: Thanks, Roger, and thanks also for highlighting that actually community network is reach very high level of capacity and they are not only based on networking but also on fiber. So it can guarantee kind of good service. And now to go from the change of continent but keeping on speaking Spanish, we move from Catalonia to Argentina with Nicolas Echaniz who is going to provide us interesting reports on the Altermundi networks.
>> NICOLAS ECHANIZ: I wanted to ask how many of you have been at Disco‑tech? Can you raise your hand?
>> MODERATOR: It's not a party, but it is an event organized.
>> NICOLAS ECHANIZ: Yes. Thanks for clarifying. So I will tell a little bit of the Altermundi experience with community networks. We have been trying to stress this during the IGF that as Roger put is very well the community networks are not just a model for underserved regions. It's a model we must understand that it's a right of the people to build community networks, and so our particular case is very focused on rural areas and underserved areas, but we believe while this is very important because community networks can have a real big impact in those regions, they also are an opportunity to show how different model of networking can be done and can be deployed.
So in our case Altermundi the people in Altermundi we had started working with community networks in, at first in big cities in Buenos Aires and many years later after seeing that community networks were not being adopted in such big cities because there were so many options we started to focus on these rural areas because you identified that in those areas there was, first there was no, the market could not get there. The market could not connect the need of the people with the resources. And states also usually don't have a good strategy to get up to the homes.
We have seen many deployments of state networks that get maybe to the villages, maybe to the public square or to a school, but then they don't get to the homes. So people in those villages either don't have any service at all or they have services limited to public areas which, of course, is a limited service because you have no intimacy there, you cannot be there to work remotely, for example. So there are many things you cannot do in that situation.
So what we at Altermundi have been developing is a model that is focused on these regions where the first thing we identified is that the geek, the nerd population tends to zero, so usually in one thousand people village, it's quite difficult to find somebody who already has some experience working with networks, and this was the main challenge because we were so used to working with other geeks to deploy these community networks in cities and stuff.
So we actually decided to build a geek‑free model for community networking. And it took quite a lot of time and in fact we are still working on this. We have been developing a software stack and now we are developing hardware component also for five years, a bit more than five years. And so what we decided from the beginning is that we needed a solution that was not capital intensive but centred on the existing human resources of the people that could work to make this happen, and as such we needed a proper technology to this, to this scenario, and the most appropriate was to build distributed networks, so mesh networks.
At the time most people said, well, you will have the problem, you know, of mesh networking with low cost routers, which is the problem when you try to build a mesh network with a router that has only one radio is that in every hub of your network when you connect from one node to the next node and to the next, you will lose half the bandwidth in every hop. So this was usually the main problem with deploying mesh networks that they could not have so many hops and that's the most interesting thing about mesh networks. I don't know who is in charge. That's the image of Kintana, the village where I live. That's roughly 1,000 people live there, and so all of the blue dots are the houses that have a node that are connected to the network and the green lines are the paths the data is using to travel from one place to the another.
This is an image, but that's built from a real time map that is constructed by the router themselves. They push this information all of the time, so you can check what's the status of the network, and as you see, this network if you want to go from one end to the other, you maybe have seven hops, seven, eight hops, and it still works because the model is based on multiradio routers.
So what we first had to do was to develop a firmware which is a software that runs on the routers so we could replace the software the routers come with, and actually support this kind of model which, of course, the software from the companies do not support. At this moment this software is being developed not only by Altermundi but also by a community of people from Italy, from Germany, from Brazil, from many places and we started collaborating to try to unify because there were many options for this, and we started getting together and trying to build something that works for all of our scenarios.
And from this group of people, we also identified, and this was a year and something ago, that we would have a very big problem with an FCC regulation that the FCC regulation tells the manufacturers that they need to block the user from being able to change the frequencies the router is using through software. Now, to do that, software manufacturers, the easiest and cheapest way to do this is to just block the ability to change the software itself in the router.
And this was a big problem in community networks which was discussed a lot on how to fight back, et cetera. And our strategy was, well, let's create our router because actually in the Global South we are not ruled by the FCC. The problem is that global producers in China mostly will always have the FCC stamp in their hardware even though you are buying them from the Global South.
So we started with this idea which seemed quite crazy at the time, but actually we banded up many of us that are working in this are in this room. And we are now actually designing the router, we got the funding, we actually got funding from different regions. We are working on this mainly with Carlos Rey‑Moreno and to me the interesting thing is that we have the opportunity to build our router, but let's build the router we want. So we are not only building a router that will not pay attention to the FCC regulation, but it also implements stuff that we think is very important.
So it implements multiple radios. The router provides three radios so that we can do mesh networking over two radios that operate in the 5 gigahertz band which is the actually currently is the best band to do this, and then there is a third radio that operates in the 2.4 gigahertz band for client connectivity. The router also has a GPS model so this can be used for many things, and there are no low cost routers with GPS models, and this has created a problem in the development community that there are some things you need GPS for for perfect timing, for example, or almost perfect timing to try to build TDMA solutions and stuff.
So we don't work on those solutions because we don't have the hardware to work on it. Now, we will have the hardware. And the other interesting stuff, two more interesting things are the power efficiency stuff that Selenia will be working with and making the routers powered through solar panels. I don't know if you will explain anymore here, but so we have a power efficient router, and also there is another very interesting model that's the TV wide space model which will let this router operate in the TV wide space band using the 2.4 radio.
So we will use the 2.4 gigahertz radio with an optional model that will just convert the frequencies so we can use TV wide space bands to work with the same software stack. This is very important because the software stack is very, the mesh are very mature and now we can plug in any frequency. and I finish with this, to our knowledge, this router will be the cheapest TV wide space to work with and considering that it will also be open hardware, the whole thing will be open hardware so not just the design, but also the board, the PCB layout.
So you can create this router wherever you are. We think this is an interesting disruptive piece of technology.
>> MODERATOR: Yes, it is, and I think ‑‑ I would start with the first segment of presentation to have some comments and questions from the audience. I'm sure there will be many. So I would like to take three, so if you want to have comments or questions, please raise your hand so that we can identify you.
>> AUDIENCE: I'm wondering if you have mapped what the legal challenges we need in order to have more collaboration between lawyers policy makers and communities because it seems to me that we have huge gap in legal concepts in which lawyers are incapable of moving beyond public and private framework. They don't know anything about any of Olstrom's comments and the whole legal debate. So it seems that one of the biggest challenges is to build a coalition between lawyers and policy makers and the communities so we can change the concepts and open room for these community rights to flourish because without this it seems that this will not work. So I'm wondering what is your opinion about this?
>> MODERATOR: To reply directly there is one chapter in the report that specifically analyzes legal issues from a European perspective, but this is the first report, so we have started working together 11 months ago, maybe 10. So we have already talked in this stage about what we could do next year, and that would be obviously an essential element that we will through in the work and the report of next year. So, yes, that is a very essential element. Any other comments? Yes.
>> AUDIENCE: The conclusion of this chapter even within Europe, the conclusion is that there is a lot of work to do. So.
>> AUDIENCE: An important point though is to be ‑‑ this is why I mentioned telecom framing with a lot of legal discussions implicitly assume that there are services and things and rather than using legal frame work for Telecom, because does the legal framework for sidewalks or neighbors cooperating directly, so that, you know, the way I think about it it's very much outside sort of the FCC way of thinking. When you start slowly from the edge it's a different dynamic.
>> AUDIENCE: I just want to elaborate in the case if I can speak for (?) the role that lawyer have played to open the space for us to exist is amazing. So please help.
>> MODERATOR: So I think ‑‑ is there any other comments or questions on this? Otherwise we can switch to the second segment starting with case study and I would like us, Ritu Strivastava to start with Digital Empowerment Foundation in India. They have been working some excellent projects and they have connected I don't know how many thousand people over the past ten years so, please, Ritu, go ahead.
>> RITU SRIVASTAVA: Thanks Luca. So this book is also talking about some of the case studies and one of the case studies is reflecting from India which is from Digital Empowerment Foundation which has been ‑‑
>> MODERATOR: Start over.
>> RITU SRIVASTAVA: The case study which I'm going to talk about is from India which is the community network which is built by organisation called Digital Empowerment Foundation and we have about 150 centers and spreading community networks in 150 locations of the country. And it's been increasing day by day as well. The case study which we have talked about is the community networks which is by community and for community, and by pooling the resources and human resources and infrastructure resources and so on so forth.
So the primary case study is also looking into aspects that how these community network models are being adopted by community and how they are making leverage out of their own benefits as well. These networks, these networks are often affordable access to the Internet while building community networks and not only at the village level but at the household level which we are talking with this case study.
The second thing which we are also talking with this case study is about civic participation and encouraging them how they are making viable models around their villages and efficacy of networks within that community networks. Last is a case study which we are also trying to focus on through this chapter that how community networks and rural Internet service providers can be leveraged and they can be supported by Government or by other legal authorities that they can be leveraged out of the community networks.
This should be recognized by Government, not by Government, by authorities that rural Internet service providers are existing. They are managing these community networks in small packets but they are providing last mile access and I will not use the word last mile because we have been debating what the last mile connectivity so far. So how we are providing the connectivity to the household level.
The model which we have talked about is also that model when we are, most of the community network are paying a small amount of a fee that can own this networks and then they can feel that this is, this is the model ‑‑ this is something which they own it. So most of our community networks are based on a fee, some membership models as well and they are on a recharge basis as well that they can access some kind of Internet connectivity as well as sustainability is the main portion of our model because the operational cost and running cost which we are thinking about it usually comes from that when community members are becoming part of community network and community members are engaging in day‑to‑day operation of networks. How we have built this infrastructure and how we have thought about building community networks is also include giving capacity and hand holding that how these community, these networks work and instead of like any engineer that is deploying that network, the operational and the management of these networks are done by local barefoot engineers.
Some of the engineers are not like highly educated but they are passed a certain kind of education and they are doing that kind of networking. So overall the community networks that we are talking about through this paper is a social economic viability we are trying to bring it.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you Ritu. So we have just passed to the next speaker, Carlos Rey‑Moreno, go ahead.
>> CARLOS REY-MORENO: Thank you very much. So I don't have a copy of the book so I don't know what chapter I'm talking about, but I'm Carlos Rey‑Moreno I'm a fellow at the university of the western cape in South Africa and apart from being a researcher, I have been involved since 2012 in the creation of networks a community owned and operated in marginalized areas of South Africa.
And the process of being involved in that helped us to understand all of these different dimensions, legal, technical and social and to try to provide solutions to successfully the people to reduce communication cost one of them being the need to reduce the technical. But also in the regulatory side, in the social side, et cetera. And we also are going through the process to allow communities to easily replicate it.
A year and a half ago since networks attract a lot of attention a movement on freedom of expression and access to information we noticed connections to communities in South Africa which started championing the model as part of their centralized access to telecommunications part of the campaign. However, a year after that corporation started nothing has happened. No other communities of Africa has actually pick up the model. So we were starting to wonder to whether how to capture what was the state in other community networks in Africa as a first step to understand what we were failing to do for other communities to actually replicate what we are doing. So I'm presenting what we believe is the first map on community networking initiatives in Africa and to select those, I mean, those initiatives that are presented in the book.
We have started connecting, contacting people that we know that have been involved throughout the years in community network initiatives in the continent and asking them a bit about the community network and what were the reasons, I mean, how it has evolved, how it was replicated, and also mention other community networks on the continent so we could continue to gather more evidence. We have complimented that with Google searches and the terms and we ended up conducting like more than 60 people.
In the paper, well, in the chapter you can find on a small description of each of them that were possible has been curated by the people involved in its community network, and although in the paper is appears as a static, we have already uploaded all of those descriptions to Wikipedia, so the map can continue to evolve dynamically by other community networks that may appear in the future in order that we have been able to capture this in the first exercise.
The result is a map that I was suspecting to have there, but I didn't, and it's on the page 163 of the book. We ended up identifying and profiling 37 self‑defined community network initiatives in 12 countries in Africa, of which 25 are currently partially actives, but the result saw that 60% of the networks are located in South Africa in one country while only one of them are not active anymore was identified in the whole northern Africa.
It might be that because we are, both of us in South Africa we are more aware of initiatives that are there, but in any case it shows that there might be issues between the ecosystem of how the South Africa can ecosystem allows the community network to flourish and the regulatory framework rather than in other countries.
Now, all of this with the Guadalajara declaration and the framework we presented there is an opportunity to kind of filter around those 37 initiatives and see which ones of those are actually community networks as we are agreeing in this Dynamic Coalition or they are just self‑defined community networks, they don't really match those criteria we are commonly agreeing upon. But other outcomes have come from there like identifying the IGF here is trying to create the IGF for next year and it is served to identify actors there that could participate in the IGF processes in other countries and also differentiate a bit how community networks in Africa are different than in other, like, what we traditionally or mainstream understand the decentralized, big massive community networks.
In the 83% of the ones that we identified have less than 30 nodes that made them very different than other community networks that are mainly in Europe and the United States that are way, way bigger. But the paper also ‑‑ one of the other goals I wanted to establish with the paper was creating some sort of coalition like the Dynamic Coalition we have here but at the African level so people could share experiences and tackle challenges. Well, luckily we didn't stop there, in ISOC three months ago a sponsor contacted me to say now what do we do with this information you have gotten? And they have sponsored for community networks in Africa that took place on the 22 in Nairobi. Where they gather to discuss that and see how we could take this forward onto deeper the understanding we have about community networks in Africa and how to make this model available to a wider number of people in the continent. One thing that came very, very clear from that is that like in other places where maybe, I mean, rather than building up a community while building the telecommunications infrastructure, the case in Africa seems to be the opposite. The community already exists and the network becomes part of what the community is already doing and issues to enhance the daily life of those participating on it. This brings a new perspective on the definition that many people may have about community networks themselves and opens up spaces to maybe consider community‑owned centers or telecenters providing ICT services that could be included in these categories only in the case that the concepts that Roger was explaining in terms of openness to participation and openness to governance are met.
So if you are aware of any of these initiatives that may not be initially considered community networks, but with this definition that we are doing collectively here they may be part of it, it would be very interesting because one of the ways forward that happened in the summit in Nairobi was to create a group, like a self‑support group where the representatives of these communities could learn together and could share experiences and visit each other and take this process forward. Another thing that I wanted to do with the map was to raise awareness about community networks in Africa because, yes, there are definitely doing amazing stuff in this space, Altermundi, when though talk about community networks they talk about community networks in other places but in Africa there are amazing people doing amazing job and they should be recognized as well. There were three members that were in Nairobi and, Joe, and Antonio from Bosco, Uganda that are here, and I would encourage to engage with them on what processes they are going through and what was their experience in the Nairobi summit and how they are planning to go forward.
For instance, they set up together, they submit to the Internet freedom festival to actually have there a host of community networks in Africa to try to continue to discuss how they want to evolve together. Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thanks Carlos, and thanks for highlighting that in many places community already exists and community network would be a very good tool to facilitate the interaction that could be eased by community network, be more efficient, more Democratic, and it is worth trying to do it, and I really want to invite the community network representatives from Africa that are here in the room for the workshop we will have this afternoon and to join the Dynamic Coalition because your feedback, your input is really welcome.
Now, I would like to move to Anya Orlova that is based in Brazil from the Foniast Jurua project to tell us what you are doing in the Amazon region.
>> ANYA ORLOVA: I will present the Foniast Jurua projects which takes place in Akarat, the Brazilian Amazon. This project is a cooperation of the local community members and the university research project of University of Sao Paulo. The report describes the novelty of the technical solution we are developing and I would like to start with providing geographical and socioeconomic background of the project and the area the project is based because I believe this in a way defines the unique characteristic of this project compared to other projects presented in the report. So what is foreign to understand is ac rat where the project is based in the reserve. It's a reserve that was established in the 70s for the production of rubber.
And there is no, where the project consists of, we installed six digital radio stations and our main guidance was the isolation and the distance for the communities that are based in the forest. And the only infrastructure that exists there are the rivers. So for you to understand there should be a picture, actually, if you can put it on the screen. No.
Okay. I will just continue. So basically in the Amazon forest where these communities are allocated, this is the picture of Brazil, the map and the red is the state of Acre it's located on the border of Bolivia and Peru and before this certificate belonged to Bolivia it was bought with the condition that Brazil will build their railway station which will connect Acre to the coast. That still didn't happen. While I'm giving you this information for you to understand that it's extremely isolated area and it's under served in terms of information and communication technologies. There are no, there is no telephony, there is no electricity wires and the only infrastructure that exists is the natural infrastructure of rivers.
However, it is also important to understand that during the dry season, rivers get extremely low and some communities get completely cut off from any transportation means so people stay isolated in the forest. Also due to the fact that in the 90s there was a collapse of the rubber tapping industry in Brazil, the majority of population was left without any means of providing for any economic development or any economic income.
And many people moved into urban or city areas which actually led to the question of the existence of reserve, because the condition of maintaining extra activist reserve is that the extraction is sustainable and doesn't imply massive farming or lodging. So basically local communities have very low income and they cannot afford expensive infrastructure such as fiberoptic or satellite telephony.
And previously in the 70s there were some NGOs from Germany that came and installed radio stations. It was Ham radio so Fonias radios and the communities were using it to the point that the technology broke down because there was no maintenance and no support. So there was a study in 2009 and 2011 and based on this study, 24 communities demanded installation of HF, high frequency radio stations. The problem was that the Government was not able to provide this infrastructure, and with a lot of struggle, and we managed to collect some money and to install six stations.
So originally there is 24 communities, but however, it's just six stations because this is the only way we could provide so far. And this is why we decided to install the stations only in the most isolated communities to provide some kind of communication means. So and this explains our technological solution.
So we are applying digital radial Mundial standard and it's something that is opposite to IP protocol because the IP protocol doesn't feed the high frequency radios. The radio station consists of the antenna, transceiver, solar panel, and the generator that collects the energy.
And also there is an interface between the radio and the transceiver. The total cost of the solution is pretty high, it's $6,000 approximately, however, once the station is installed, it doesn't require maintenance or it didn't require professional or highly technical expertise to maintain it, and what we manage to achieve is that most of the community members who have the stations installed in their communities all are able to operate the radio stations themselves.
So if there is some problems they are even able to fix it and to change frequencies and to also receive, for example, radio Amazon broadcast broadcasting station. So once the station is installed, it's self‑maintained by the community. So just to get back to our academic project, we applied the ethnographic method of technological implementation and it was inspired by the ethics of free software. So all of the software that is used is free software.
And what we are trying to do is address the local demands of the communities and to provide information and communication technology in collaboration with local communities, so all of the demands and all of the solutions were implemented in collaboration with the local communities. And now I want to make an emphasis of why I think this project is specific because it has a particular role within the context of the Brazilian Amazon in particular in terms of environmental protection.
So as I have already said, these communities are looking for new means of economic income, and some of them are moving to the cities, however, there is not much they can do and there is a lot of frustration right now in Acre. And so, however, the people who stay in the forest, they don't really have means for sustainable existence, and, therefore, this communication can provide them means to develop sustainable businesses. For example, there are now discussions of developing sustainable farming coming back to production of rubber and sell certain goods and products.
However, they are completely cut off from communication even with other Brazilian states. So all of this aspects points to the need of the new sustainable ways of staying in the forest, and basically if there will be no people living in the reserve, there will be no more need for the reserve. And that means if there is no more reserve, that would lead to mass farming, lodging and basically deforestation and endangering the Amazon forest. So what is important to understand it's a constellation of factors. It's the community, the technology that might provide them sustainable means so staying within the forest and the forest they depend on. And there are ways of doing micro farming or producing various little goods which they are ready to sell, however, they need some means of communication to maintain these new practices.
And as a political aspect which is important to.
>> MODERATOR: Can you wrap up in one minute, please?
>> ANYA ORLOVA: So another aspect due to this geographical conditions a lot of times communities are being cut off from education. So, for example, children are not being picked up by the boat to be taken to the school because the water is low or sometimes there is no service. People don't always work as they are supposed to work, and, for example, there is a severe shortage of medical assistance.
And what this technology can provide is information, educational information, access to health service is, health assistance, political news, and other services. And on a bigger scale it's important to say that at the moment in Brazil, the legislation needs to be updated when it comes to the use of spectrum over the high frequency radio band, and the current legislation dates back to the 70s where there was no real discussion about the digital transmission and this points to our recent, most recent development in the project. We went there in September and we managed to do the first digital transmission of digital files and digital images.
And the project received also the grant of Freda which supports this experiment and the next year we will be working to develop this functionality. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. So I would like to, as we started with ten minutes of delay, I would like you to stay ten minutes more if you can, and the last presentation of Maureen whom I ask to be quite concise, if you can, and to have some room for debate.
>> MAUREEN HERNANDEZ: Thank you to have me. I will keep it short because spectrum is not as important as food right now. I understand. There was, this was something that was brought to me by Andreas Moret, you may know him and when we are trying to set up a network, maybe we can use fiber or in other cases we can use the wireless space. And there was not an economic way to sense that spectrum.
And also you mentioned that the spectrum policy needs to be updated and we believe that as well. And I needed to build something that was less than $200 and was easy to set up and was easy to maintain to develop. And it was to build a spectrum analyzer with a Raspberry Pi and hand held spectrum, and also an SCRLTR dongle and I built a system that is able to manage all of the sensing on the spectrum and to put that in a platform that you can actually visualize the data.
So why do we need to do that? Because when we are asking maybe to update the spectrum policy, we need to have a fact sheet, and it's not enough to say the spectrum is not being used. We have to prove it. So this is what this small tool is trying to do. In all of the cases, in all of the configurations that I made, all of the costs that are below $200 in total, so it's something that we can actually make in those Developing Countries or developing villages, and it's quite easy to do.
I had to prove that this was actually a good spectrum sensor and that it was reliable. So with the spectrum, with the simultaneous devices at the same time, and then compare those results with the actual, the official table of spectrum sharing in the country. And after that we did also another one. So we proved that with all of the devices the measures are reliable and we are able to have fact sheets and then collaborate with the lawyers and the spectrum policy people that want to help us to acquire the spectrum and say that we already have the amount of usage and that it is absolutely possible to deploy on the networks there.
>> MODERATOR: You are done. Excellent.
>> MAUREEN HERNANDEZ: I'm hungry.
>> MODERATOR: If you have some comments or questions, please go ahead. Yes. Okay.
>> MARCEL SALDANHA: Just to point something, some issues and some incentives that are occurring in Brazil too in the regulated environment that we are coming to get a new resolution that will allow community networks using Wi‑Fi spectrum. And some that we are doing in Rio in 2008, in the next report that I think it's possible to put incentives and with the partnership with Article 19. We are trying to experiment with social activism to maintain these networks in communities. It's more like it is the model that we are applying in Brazil. And I wanted to point this.
>> MODERATOR: This was Marcel Saldanha who is the rock star of community networks.
>> MICHAEL OGHIA: My name is Michael Oghia, ISOC Ambassador. When we talk about helping to extend the benefits of the Internet to the unconnected, that process is happening because of people like each one of you on the ground. So someone that appreciates the tireless work you do, I want to say thank you.
>> Since I'm supposed to be controversial, provocative, when I hear people talk about spectrum policy and problems I think it's like running out of the color blue. Its legacy of 1920's radio broadcast technology and between things like ultra-wide band, packets, the fact that we go wireless, wireless mixture, we need to start, we work by David Reid on this, that we need to start thinking about moving beyond. And the real strategy of spectrum when we shifted from railroads to roads, railroads were very controlled medium.
Roads are open. People do their own driving. The reason this has not happened that the equivalent of the roads, the open wireless space has been locked down due to a 1920s model so we have people thinking beyond spectrum and beyond the idea that we need to regulate it because of old technologies.
>> MODERATOR: Do we have a roving mic?
>> STUART HAMILTON: Hi, everybody, I'm Stuart Hamilton, the Deputy Secretary‑General at the International Federation of Library Associations and the convener of the Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in Libraries. So this has been an extremely interesting session for me and I was looking to have a good chat with members of the DC yesterday. I'm not sure how many you are aware, but there are 320,000 public libraries worldwide, 230,000 of those are in Developing Countries. It seems to me that it would be really interesting to combine the massive network with some of the projects you guys are working on and see how we can take it forward at a community level maybe using libraries. There are a couple of things we already maybe talked about, I would like the Dynamic Coalition to think about this, we could put a work program together for the next year or so we could map where we have people, some projects going on where you guys have got expertise, see what fits, see what we could get off the ground in a few pilots and then we could that I about how we could send that information to the library so they understand how to set up community networks so I'm willing to offer the whole network that we have in a next work program for the next 12 mornings.
>> I just found out Wikipedia people working on it, if you want to go to something like Wikipedia, you don't need to go all the way. When you have that on a disc drive and a server that acts more like a local library. There are many ways to extend connectivity.
>> MODERATOR: I would personally want to thank Start also for offering this potential partnership because it's obviously something we want to consider. I think there was Osama and then the gentleman there and then Carlos.
>> AUDIENCE: Yes, I wanted to comment a few things that most of the community networks whenever we want to implement is subject to restrictive policies rather than proliferation oriented policies. All of the policies are restrictive. For example, here in India, in the network that Ritu explained and all because of regulation we have not been able to do it, height of the tower in rural areas when you go you don't have construction, so, therefore, you don't have height. For example, we have five meters is the only allowed height without permission, and, therefore, you need height.
And if you go to a land which is public, you know, most of the land which is vacant where you want to go on the height, it's Government‑owned land and you go to the Government. So, you know, and private buildings are not enough there in rural areas and, therefore, you are always restricted by various things, and once you are connected, then you are, again, so what I feel is that one of the approaches that we need to take is a spectrum is a public property.
It is written everywhere, but and most of the public has not been able to use it. So the places where people have not been able to have public access to a spectrum because of the regulatory process, we need to go to the public and take a signature of all of the public that here there is no provider of a spectrum in a manner that we can access and, therefore, we take control of the spectrums ourselves and build over it.
Like democracy, you know, you take signatures, you take everything. So that's the least that we can get even if they are not user of the access of the network, they have a signature that here there is no road, something like there is no road so we are using our own vehicle. So similarly we don't have access provided under the purview of the spectrum, and then how do we use public to use those spectrums which is not publicly available to us, we take into control.
>> MODERATOR: Excellent comment. So the gentleman there and then Carlos. And then we can go have lunch.
>> AUDIENCE: Hello, everyone, I enjoyed a bit of the talks that I have listened. I would like to mention that network for Mexican university in the south part I'm a librarian and I'm representing the International Federation of Library Associations. I would like to mention a couple of things that you could probably take into account. I was in the Amazon, Brazil four weeks ago speaking at the university level Conference.
And I learned what some university libraries are doing for the community, not only for their own academic community, but, you know, the suburbs and so on. So get in touch with them. I also was in Venezuela last week at the Catholic University, the library is doing a community work in barrio types. So libraries have three things to offer to you, access, content, and information skills training.
So I think we can join efforts and offer these three things because access is one thing. The other thing is skills. People need skills and we are good for that. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Carlos and then Ritu you have the final words.
>> CARLOS REY-MORENO: Just to build up on what Bob said at the beginning as a way of a wrap-up and something that has been appearing in the three sessions that I have participated today is, and Ritu mentioned it in the previous one about gender and access is that we are talking about connecting the unconnected or empowering the unconnected, but in many of the examples in Africa, Internet is not a requirement. They are building their own local networks to provide themselves with their own local services to meet their own local needs.
So it might not be that they need the Internet. They need just to communicate among themselves and provide themselves with the services that they have identified that they need. So the Internet is an add on, but sometimes it's not necessary to establish that in community networks.
>> MODERATOR: Ritu, final words.
>> RITU SRIVASTAVA: I think Osama has well said that the spectrum is one of the public sphere and how in a few years back when we were talking about the Internet needs to be seen as a Human Rights and Internet as an access is a Human Rights now it's time to talk about the spectrum is an access, provides an access and it needs to be seen as a Human Rights as well, the location occupying the spectrum is very much required as well.
When we, in India when working in some of the restrictive policies are there, restrictions are already there. There are legal challenges, social challenges and there are some of the challenges we are trying to meet with. But some of the innovations which are happening is by the community that leverages itself, that it's the community can make such kind of a community and it does not require too much of technology as well, but it does require the human resource as well as certain resource structure which is already available in the natural kind of resources as well.
Lastly, the one content is content by community itself can be shared with the larger world as well. It's so much content is already available in that community.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much to everyone. Thank you to the participants to the panelists for the comments.
(Concluded at 1335.)