The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Berlin, Germany, from 25 to 29 November 2019. 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: Thank you very much for being here. This is workshop 391 collaborative effort between and among APC, the Internet Society and the CETA alliance. Many of us have been working on community networks for many years and many in the room as well. So the baseline for the conversation is that community networks are a critical important way to connect people.
We are not going to go through necessarily what they are and who is doing specific things. Each of the organises is going to give about 10 to 15 minutes ‑‑ I'm sorry, you are pointing at something? Oh, I'm sorry, there you go, let me start over, I'm Jane from the Internet Society. This is panel 391. We are going to have three of the organisations here, the Internet Society, APC and the CETA Alliance give you a snapshot of the work we are doing, 10 to 15 minutes each and we will open it to you for recommendations on how to move forward to help promote community yet works, that can be anything from the technical, the policy, the regulatory or the development side. We have Chet, Kathleen and Carlos will introduce themselves, we will go to Sebastian from the Internet Society and after that to the CITA compliance to Carolina. We will start with APC.
>> APC: Good afternoon. It's the hour where we are all very active and really attentive, right? You seem so far away. But this is really going to be stories, yes. So I'll start by telling how we got, why is it that we are doing this work, some history.
So community networks, access and community is in APC's DNA. When we first started our members actually provided the first, if you like iteration of community networks in the days when it was bulletin boards, it was email, and we have people here who actually set up the wires and cables at that time that connected our members in different parts of the world.
So I think just to come back to that history, and that we were founded in 1990. So 30 years on there were different iterations of how we connect and how access and especially coming from a community perspective or start, you know, starting from community perspective. So I think the one thing that, you know, through the years also, what's useful to look at is how the technology has changed and we have used technology whatever is available at the time.
So, for example, at a time when the wireless connectivity came up, it is about using wireless technology to be able to maximize. In the early 90s, mid 90s when we did work around wireless networks and experimented with wireless connections in different countries and connected communities that were looking at connecting those communities.
The way we came up with community networks is we have always through members and partners, we have always been, we work in communities. So we actually have those kinds of connections. We understand what their local needs are. And it is also adjusting to what the technology is. We know that it's become much more, it's cheaper, there are more technologies that we can use and it's also that we are able to make those connections with other groups that are doing the same things.
So with regards to community networks, we started this specific project around community networks four years ago, three, four years ago where we add the opportunity to talk to one of our partners IDRC, to work with several community networks until different, to see research around looking at the social as well as gender economic impact and livelihoods of community networks.
Through that we have managed to connect with different community networks which that also has attracted resources from other donors we have, and we are now continuing that work with, some of you have heard this morning. The other point I wanted to raise here is that the work in the community networks is also very connected to the work we do around policy advocacy. So it's not just providing the connectivity, but it is in fact looking at influencing the policy environment, And supporting that so that it can actually continue to grow the community, and the growth of community networks in the different regions where we work in.
We also, one of the things we make sure of is that there is consistent perspective that is inclusive, and specifically drawing on or making sure there is a gender perspective. And that's from the start because we have learned a lot of lessons in the past around connectivity, connectivity work or initiatives that really lives, that does not have foregoing digital inclusion perspective.
And this is one of the things that we are making sure of in the work that we are doing now, which Carlos and Kathleen will be speaking about more. I guess I will leave it there and let you explain more what we are doing.
>> KATHLEEN DIGA: Thanks Chet. Thanks for giving the 30‑year history of APC and it's true really connection from its early days of the green ISPs. My name is Kathleen Diga, I am project coordinator at the Association for Progressive Communication. I'm based in Durbin. And just building on what Chat spoke to, 2017 we are building on research. I think the last time I was put on stage was to help coordinate the global information watch society watch book, 2008 on community networks. Many of the authors are here again, so it's great to see a lot of familiar faces a year later. And really, again, having the chance to talk about the key achievements by communities through this community networks project titled Connecting the Unconnected.
Really what has been spoken of was this opportunity to have communities exchange lessons. So what we were hearing from a lot of communities was that they were working in isolation and they wanted to learn how community networks were run in other places and, you know, this opportunity last year had this chance for communities to come together, meet with each other, learn from each other, improve their networks, gain new ideas, collaborate. We saw a lot of collaboration in Latin America, in the national sense in India as well, and in between Kenya and Zimbabwe and also look at the broader ICT ecosystem of regulation and gender intersectionality, working in rural areas in core communities.
So the peer learning exchange was one of the ideas was to connect 12 community networks in the Global South and Asia, Latin America, and Africa. And really, what has come out of this mutual respect and diversity of connecting each other are these remarkable experiences between communities that in their regions of understanding each other's difficulties but successes, I was given the story of, well, I think we have heard a few times. Well, at least the last session from Ma Atsuki learning more about going to BOSCO, Uganda and Gulu and being inspired by the community radio aspects and how they are connecting, you know, schools that are working with refugees, and how she wants to bring it back to Benzelani Network and then the Ugandans going to visit Zenzala so they were having issues with a solar system, we had Solomon come in and said I'm a solar expert and you need a tweak. And solution solved just like that. So stories like that, remarkable experience that's were coming out and collaborations that were not happening previous were happening through the peer exchange.
We sides that, we have ‑‑ besides that, we work with Risomatica through Pathfinder Grant where catalytic inventions were explored to sustainability and take one step further to expand the reach and understanding of sustainability, and further to that was some technological development sides, some software, some hardware exploration under the auspices of APC labs, and, again, just having an opportunity to see, you know, if you want to go and work with women in a network or if you want to go and work with indigenous groups in the Amazon, what are some of those aspects that are very, you know, contextualized that are needed in order for this consideration of sustainability to really come to effect.
And then there was aspects of movement building where you continue, I mean, aside from uniting or having a chance to speak closely with community networks and have them speak across with each other is the launch of, well, ongoing 23rd community networks newsletter and a Q and A platform, community networks group to at least start some conversations to make public what's just being said in close quarters, let's talk about, you know, some of those technical issues that people are having in a public Forum so that people can learn from each other.
So, I mean, it's still in its starting stages, 30 topics, you know, since mid-2019. Then I would say policy has been a partnership that with Internet Society has been quite successful through their regulation, training workshops with regulators in the Global South. For example, working in West Africa, French speaking area which has been a place, an area that we have been wanting to work with partners with, but didn't know where to start.
And really what came out of these workshops is that regulators just need more information. They needed to understand what are the aspects that small operators are struggling to get across around the regulation that they need in order to thrive. And from that I believe to date over 100 regulators have been trained from, I believe it was around about five or six workshops that have happened in the Global South. And then finally gender and women's engagement if you were in the workshop prior to, it is the tireless work of women and gender non‑conforming persons within the community working from the technical to the social that are making these communities thrive and know that their knowledge is the most important and we want to ensure that their knowledge is preserved and utilized and that they have a network that means something to them.
And, I mean, I would love to, you know, name and thank all of the, you know, for this grant process for the learning grant, we had purposely asked that at least one woman be involved, and the 12 women that, you know, we have united with, all I can say is watch the space, community networks women's Summit 2020 is in the works so I will leave it at that and pass it to my colleague, Carlos.
>> CARLOS REY MORENO: Thank you very much, Kathleen. This section was about taking stock, reflecting a bit on the trip, the journey that we starting to, the three organisations at some point in the past about supporting the people who wanted to set up their own telecommunications infrastructure. Not that long ago in this space and other policy and regulatory spaces, the only voices that were heard, the only way of creating and setting up and deploying telecommunications infrastructure was that of the private sector., was that of the market economy, was that of the highly invested companies that were looking at telecommunications and electronic communication service provision as a highly for‑profit venture.
Most of the telecommunications companies in Africa have been among the top three to five highest scorers in any stock market in the region. In the last of these four years that I have been involved in the international policy level, we have seen a big change. We have seen it this year. I mean, I remember in 2016 in Guadalajara we were running around trying to get in every session coordinating each other, trying to get the voice of these people heard.
I don't know how many sessions, I haven't counted them in this IGF, but we don't even need to be there and the topic is discussed. Even this morning in the Dynamic Coalition on innovative approaches to Connecting the Unconnected, one of the reflections of the professor Yu is people didn't think they are possible and now they are considering at the highest level of policy. Tomorrow we will be talking about how they are included in many policy documents and policy recommendations from the Broadband Commission to the African Union to the UN Secretary's high level panel on digital cooperation.
It's not only about recognition which I think is huge. It's also about partnerships and movement building. It's about trusting from each other, learning from each other. There is a community of practice that is starting to believe that is possible. And, again, it hasn't been that long ago. That's thanks to most of the opportunities that we are doing together with the organisations. I'm sure we do things wrong and that is why there is going to be 45 minutes for you to tell us how many things we have done wrong, but I have the feeling that there has been many things we have done right.
Again, it's not only about the policy, about the movement, it's also about the deepening. I have ended up specializing in policy and regulation, and in the last Summit on community networks in Africa that was last month in Tanzania, there is this exercise where we have created another resource, a policy Wiki where people can collaboratively contribute to see how a community network could fit in the regulatory framework of the country, from the license perspective, spectrum perspective, from the national policy, et cetera.
Anyway, three years ago, four years ago, I believe two community networks were legal, and everyone looking at regulation was like, no, no, there is technology, there are social things. No. The exercise was like two hours or one now half. After one hour and 45 minutes the people were like, 140 people were working on the policy Wiki and we had to say, guys we need to go to lunch. So there is a new energy about engaging in the deepest levels of policy and regulation that other countries would think is the most boring thing ever.
It's about, you know, we had to overcome. I remember the first discussions with IDRC at CIF in 2017, and about tell me how this is going to be different from tele centers. We put a lot of money in the telecentre movement and it didn't go anywhere. And how the sustainability models are coming up in a very solid way, how creative ideas out of the market ideas understanding that barter and other economies that don't follow market premises are ways that can sustain and do sustain community networks so I'm going to leave it there.
I think we have grown a lot. There are many challenges ahead of us. We can discuss them later, but I think there is quite a lot of exciting things that happen. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Those of you that just joined us. This is a stock taking as Carlos has said with APC, the Internet Society and our colleagues from the cede alliance from LAC NIC and AP NIC foundation. APC has just spoken about the history and what they are doing, my colleague Sebastian Bellagamba will go next and we will have the team from the CETA alliance after. As Carlos has said this is no longer can they work, they do work. Community networks are a thing, they are viable. We have man making change in policy and regulatory activity and it's been amazing to watch what has happened since we were in 2016 in Guadalajara at the IGF where the momentum started to build and all of a sudden everybody was talking about community networks and they are like oh, my gosh, it's a thing, it's real. There is momentum and change because we are seeing that people have been unconnected. I have been doing in 20 years so something that's to give and we have to improve new paradigms. Over to Sebastian.
>> SEBASTIAN BELLAGAMBA: My name is Sebastian Bellagamba, Regional Director for Latin American and Caribbean Internet Society. And I also on my free time, my other part of my job, I also lead our program on community networks are to the past two years as well. This is about taking stock and discussing with you, because I cannot degree more with what Carlos said and Jane has said. It is amazing, we have been working on community networks for more than ten years at the Internet Society.
The last three years I have been involved more personally, and it's amazing the momentum that has been created. Things happen. Without you knowing and without you making anything to happen, there is a lot of butterfly effect now going on around community networks, and that's something we need to take advantage of.
And because once you have momentum, the momentum doesn't last forever. So it's your time to act. And there is an urgency on this, I mean, on acting. I would like to reflect a bit on that. I think there is an urgency because we have the momentum now. We didn't have the momentum before, and we are not guaranteed to have the momentum tomorrow. So today is the day. But most importantly, one thing that I have learned when I got involved with the community networks is that I had misunderstood the concept of the digital divide.
We at the Internet Society, one of the things we promote the most is connectivity for people. The Internet is for everyone and we need to connect the rest of the world that is not connected. Now, the 47% of the world according to last month's figure by ITU, 47% of the world that is not yet connected to the contract. That is a priority for us. We want to have a bigger and stronger Internet.
But as I said just now, the digital divide in my mind used to be that difference between the 50% that is connected versus the 47% that is not connected. And I came to understand that actually the digital divide is different. It's a gap that you have that separates the 53% from the 47%. And that gap, even though we keep connecting people and the one year ago it was 51/49. This year it's 53/47, the connected people in the world.
The gap that separates those that are connected to those that are not yet connected keeps widening every single day. And that's a byproduct of our own success because I would say that the real life used to be offline. Real life now happens online.
I live in Uruguay. In Uruguay today, if you need to renew your driver's license, you have to go online in order to do it. So basically if you are one of the 47% that are not yet connected to the Internet, you will struggle to renew your driver's license. In that sense, I mean, the driver's license is a basic day‑to‑day example.
The important thing is that we are leaving behind every day that we move online to those that are not, those that are not connected. So we need to act on this because we have momentum, but we need to act now because if we don't do it, we are leaving people behind all of the time. And I think that's critical. We have been working a lot. I totally would like to agree on the importance of the partnerships on this. We have been including and expanding our partnership and people that are willing to work together.
We just finished a training of 150 regulators with CITEL, which is the Inter‑American telecommunications commission, part of the Inter‑American organisation, the Organization of American States. And they are asking us to run the program again next year. It's part of the momentum that we are talking about, but it's also that everyone is now considering community network as a possibility, and that's something we need to give advantage.
What do we need to do in order to ‑‑ so we keep getting friends, people that some of them are partners, some of them are friends, some of them are people that are not that convinced, but they are giving a chance to this. We know it's important. So what in my mind should be our focus and what was and what should be our approach from the Internet Society at least on trying to address this issue. Can you check how much time? I'm good. Perfect. Thank you.
I think there are four important component that's we need to address for the future, challenges and opportunities we need to address for the future. The first one is we need to continue to support the deployment of community networks. That's critical because lit me give you an example for community networks. Before that community networks is one way to address the connectivity gap. It's not the ultimate solution, we are not going to connect the 47% that is there with community networks.
It's important, one, because it's addressing as my colleagues have said, an important layer of those that are not yet connected. We need to ‑‑ and but it's important to understand the magnitude of the problem we are facing. Because sometimes the people who live in rural areas obviously deserve to be connected, but it's a single part of the population that is unable to connect but that is not true. In Latin America accord GSMA, 84% of the population is covered by 2G or more. Let's assume that 2G means Internet, okay. That's a really great number. I mean, it's a really important number, 84% of the population lives in an area of coverage, but still 16% lives in an area where there is not coverage at all, not even 2G.
We have more than 600 million inhabitants in Latin America, so 16% of 600 million plus is 100 million. It's not much. The potential market of this is 100 million people just in Latin America. So let's focus on that. What would be our focus, and we are meant to do next year and beyond. First, deploy. Let's support the deployment of community networks worldwide. We need to lead by example. As my colleagues have said, it works. It's sustainable, it's not the telecenters. It's ownership from the community. The community runs the networks and they make it happen. It's been proven. It's running and it works.
A second one, we need to create the capacities for that to happen. Those communities, our remote communities do not have the capacities in their places. So we need to help them. That's a way to support them. The third one, and I think it is a critical one that's been mentioned is we need to create an enabling policy environment for them to thrive. And that’s critical and I think it is a component of critical importance here at the IGF. First, we need licenses for these community networks. We want them to operate legally.
We don’t want anyone to go to jail for running a community network. So we need to recognize the existence of community networks and make it legal through a licensing scheme, but a licensing scheme that must be different in some ways from the big operators because you are not going to subject the small networks that are in remote areas to the same conditions as the big guys.
That doesn't mean that they have to have different competitive advantages versus the operators. They are operating in a different environment, and we need to recognize that they are operating in a different environment. The second one, it is impossible that we will try to connect these community networks with fiber to the home. They are by itself located in remote areas, and in general they are composed of dispersed population. So we need to cover them with some kind of wireless technology.
Good technology for doing that generally coincides with the spectrum that has been allocated to the big operators that find innovative ways to have secondary uses of spectrum, shared spectrum. We can use the spectrum that has been allocated to someone in our countries, but it's not being used in that particular geographic region. Let's use it somehow.
I mean, without damaging anyone's interests, but let's use it it's not being used, and we need it. And, third, and this comes attached to the licensing scheme, let's try to come up with a way in order to help them. I think the most important part of the financial help that a community network needs is the cap ex more than the op ex, the equipment, et cetera. So let's try to help them and our Government have a tool that is designed to do that, which is generally called the Universal Service Fund.
Universal Service Funds have been designed to subsidize communications for people that are living in remote areas where the market is not going. So let's use it for that. In general, the three things are intertwined. They cannot apply to Universal Service Funds because they don't have a license and the Universal Service Fund is only available to licensees, so on. So let's try to sort it out, I mean, the three at the same time somehow. There have been many countries that have already made advancement to, this is a competitive approach. Let's complement the efforts that the private sector and the Governments are doing in other areas.
Let's complement that with people living in remote areas. It makes no economic sense to support there because there is no business, and it's right. Companies are not there to lose money. Companies are there to make money, and that's fine, but we need to do something with the people that live in an area that is not profitable enough for a company to deploy there. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: So we are going to head over to the CITEL alliance next and after that we will have an open session, we would love feedback and policy regulations. We will stop ten minutes before the end of the presentation and there will be a presentation of the CITEL alliance award so there will be a festive ending so over to the team from the seat tele alliance.
>> SYLVIA CADENA: Thank you, Jane. My name is Sylvia Cadena, head of program APNIC. APNIC is one of the IPR. They are the large operators that Carlos was referring to that are being covered in many countries that are deploying next works mostly to urban centers, and they are, we are also finding a way where these ecosystems of different business models that can coexist to provide access can also mean that IPR needs to be allocate in a different way to organisations that are registered in a different fashion.
So my first bit of this presentation is about history, a little bit of taking stock again about the CITEL alliance. It means how intertwined it is to the Internet Society and also to APC and also to a place we are at the moment the IGF. The first meeting to talk about the CITEL alliance was actually at the IGF in Nairobi in 2010 where we discussed with IVRC and the Internet Society how we could put a little bit of the money into this idea about finding new alternatives to provide access in innovation or Internet technologies across the Global South.
So the CITEL alliance is a partnership between the after Friday NIC, which is the regional internal registry for Africa, APNIC in Asia‑Pacific and Latin NIC in Latin America we have been a project operating since 2012. We have supported over 180 projects and have allocated over $5 million to projects related to digital innovation across the Global South and we support the community networks activist and practitioners from the very early beginning.
Part of the things that I think is more relevant about the CITEL alliance interventions here is to kind of take on a little bit of the risk that other donors who are not that interested to have their logo attached to. For some of the reasons that my colleagues here mentioned before, just because back then it was not that clear that it was going to work. So it has different flavors how community access is sort of provided in different regions and there are loads of examples on the seat CITEL Alliance website and of course in the regional program. Five are from Africa, and Asia traffic in the Asia‑Pacific.
But we have supported projects in Thailand, India, Slovakia. Micronesia, Vietnam, Argentina, Brazil, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Botswana and others. So they are not apples and oranges. It's impossible to compare. They have crazy innovations in each one of those places where they are working, really amazing cultural regions that make them unique in themselves, but as the idea of looking for scale and opportunities to bring access to the unconnected comes in, these mechanisms of funding mechanisms to support this kind of innovations like the CITEL alliance has done I think are very important.
And a few years ago, which IGF, we did one workshop at the IGF talking a few years ago about innovation and how you support devices, networks and content and you put money to make sure that that is all local. So imagine a world where we have devices like the router that the C tele alliance collectively support a few years ago, content developed for the communities that means local services are in the local languages. What will be the world if we have devices that are fit to purpose and culturally appropriate and that are serving local content and local community needs in their own by the very local people that need them and not necessarily building the pockets of companies that are from other places.
So I think there is space in this session, in this taking stock about just, of course, there is lots of work to be done. We haven't achieved everything that we wanted to achieve, and the funding that we have been able to provide is small grants. So, of course, the millions that are required to make this more effective probably we don't have them, but we keep advocating for building collaboration also on the funding part so that access to funding for those that need support is something that is easier to spread and different donors can contribute to the little bits and pieces that they are more interested in.
That's what the role of the CITEL Alliance in the last few years since to 12 to this year, so we encourage you to visit the website, to look at projects we have supported to get in contact with each one of the regions to see what is available for each one of the regions but also to spread the word that it's not only about what technical innovation is out there, what each of the projects and richness of the projects is, but it's how can we fund them and help them grow.
>> Thank you, Silvia, for that introduction. Good afternoon, everyone. So in this exercise, to sort of take stop of what has been done by the CITEL Alliance, we did this exercise this morning actually of identifying successes or things we feel have gone right and some challenges that we understand that lie ahead. And we would like to share with you two successes if you will and one challenge that we feel sort of lies ahead.
So, again, discussing this morning and with Sylvia and preparing for this panel, one of the things we feel has worked well in our efforts to support community networks is the funding mechanisms provided by the alliance, and sort of the gap that we tried to fill in terms of what funding opportunities were available to community networks across our three regions of work. So Sylvia has alluded to this a little bit but I will go into further details. The CITEL alliance works fundamentally through two types of funding mechanisms. We have awards on the one hand and then we have small innovation grants.
And starting with the community networks awards that we have been giving out in the last couple of years, these have sort of allowed us to give civility to the success cases and organisations that essentially prove that the community networks were indeed a feasible solution to the challenge of Connecting the Unconnected. And our awards involve a small cash contribution to winning projects, but perhaps the most sort of significant or important contribution to this initiatives that we have supported has been our travel fellowships to different spaces such as the Internet Governance Forum.
So one example I like to site is the colleagues from Altermundi, which received the Freedom Award in 2015, so before the Guadalajara IGF when things started to take off. And we believe that participating in this IGF allowed them to sort of better integrate and develop connections in the Internet Governance world. And we have colleagues from Altermundi here. Maybe they can attest to what I'm saying.
The other funding mechanism which we utilized are small innovation grants, and these come in various forms and shapes. We support projects that are getting started and also projects that are looking to scale up essentially. Generally, what we tried to focus on the CITEL alliance is supporting innovations that would be considered too risky for regular investors, philanthropic investors or private investors and we work to push those ideas past proof of concept or those solutions, you know, help those solutions scale.
And, again, here in terms of our community, our work with community networks I think this grant support that has very sort of high tolerance if you will to risk has been useful. And one great example is the cap a we provided for the router project which many of you do know which was essentially a project that sought to develop a router that was better suited for the needs of community networks relying on open source software and hardware.
So I think, again, in that regard, and to start of wrap up that the CITEL alliance has managed to support the community networks in helping them gain greater visibility especially at this sort of early stage before they became something that was hot and in fashion. And most importantly supporting them by trial and error.
Beyond that, another point where at least I would say we worked hard on is it adjusting our grant making to sort of evolving needs test community networks movement. So with all of the work that sort of transpired over the last couple of years, I think as Jane said earlier, we know the community networks are well past proof of concept. They work.
And essentially the work has started sort of shifting to more specific agendas that have to do with finding and exploring different sustainability models that have to do with pushing to have enabling regulation as Sebastian was mentioning as well, and promoting local content and so forth. So here Sylvia and I would like to provide one example of how our programmes have supported this new agenda. I will start off and then we go to you, if that's okay.
So in the case of freedom in 2018 we supported two initiatives, one by Article 19 in Brazil and we have them here in the room, and one in Colombia and I think Julian is here as well, there he is. So please feel free to jump in. So essentially the two projects we supported proposed to create three new networks in these two countries, and to us that was an opportunity to understand what it takes to scale up community networks.
We need to continue in deploying community networks and we have some communities where these networks have sort of emerged organically, but the big question that is sort of floating around is how do we get the section to take root in communities that are going online, seeking to improve technology in regards to access to communication and content and in this cases they don't quite connect to the Internet. So in this regard, these two organisations supported community processes leading to the creation of three networks, two in northeast Brazil if geography doesn't fail me and one in rural Colombia.
We felt these were very interesting cases where these organisations essentially paired local communities with technical teams, and successfully worked on the setup of networks and also on sort of facilitating community debates and trainings along with the creation of these networks.
Another important or interesting thing, we you that while the sort of setup of local networks is feasible in the short term, that the projects that we fund normally last around 12 months. Getting the community to sort ever coordinate a sustainability model to pay for the Internet things require normally more time and maybe sort of a more challenging aspect. As a matter of fact, we had a network in Brazil out of the two that got set up that sort of before the community before going online, they wanted to continue using the network that was set up locally to achieve sort of greater application of the technology and work on generating local content. So we had some interesting dynamics come up such as this one and maybe Rafael La can speak to that later on in the discussion.
And lastly, in all three cases we saw that there was the creation of coordination committees that were sort of crucial to ensure like the actual sort of application of these networks that were set up and just sort of formalize the sustainability structure and sustainability models of the network which we see coming up also sort of element in these exercises of scaling community networks.
So we are trying to sort of continue to support the community networks' movement in the new challenges that are coming up and I will ask Sylvia to say words around support of powering networks actually.
>> I will look at Jane because of the time, but well, in terms of the ESF examples, there are plenty and there are all on the website so you can check reports and I can put you in contact with the people we have supported, but I want to highlight the experience of one that is very dear to us. It's one of our first recipients from 2009, that is the wireless provider for the Dalai Lama, so you can't be cooler than that. I'm sorry for anyone. And then they have grown into actually an enterprise that provides access in India for nine cities and has hundreds and thousands of users provide access to banks, schools, hospitals, become an employer, a formal employer and it's one of what we call success cases.
They are doing research project this year around power interlimitting, trying to figure out how to maintain alive the relay stations out there in the mountains in India where they are interconnecting cities, and different schools and hospitals. And their project is about how they can edge sure that a special relay can stay up for a particular number of hours, but it's all with an open source software that is developed by them, monitored by the community and that had also will have that human element of not having people going up and down the mountain to check on equipment when it's not needed, which also helps the staff maintaining those relays which in the mountains of the Himalayas has you a whole different meaning when you are saying I'm going up the mountain.
So that's one. So I think that they are, you know, as I mentioned, they have moved from a small, a community provider into something bigger, but they are still facing challenges that no one else is listening and this power challenge was one that we heard and we put funding from the program for this year into two grants and on power for Internet access.
So there are other challenges, and next year whether we launch in February our next internal development grants we will focus primarily on another connection between access and something else. We will have to see how these small grants bring more visibility as car row Lena mentioned so other things that donors might be interested in. That's how we see our role. We don't have the whole capital to solve the problem, but we can definitely see how these examples and proof of concepts support that development.
And in that sphere, I also wanted to share on that challenge of sustainability, while also exploring with some very dear colleagues of ours from connectivity capital, Jane forester and his team in the U.S. is a person that was a former engineer at Cisco, and full believe of community access and how access can only be provided if there is a vibrant market that operates different kinds of business models where everybody can coexist. He is also a believer in scale.
What he is offering now are soft loans for networks that have different shapes and forms and could be a community network that has a particular amount of revenue and has some sorts ever stability.
And he can land from 250 to it million dollars to support the scale of those networks. That is kind of pushing a little bit the envelope for banks and other investors to look at this as a series opportunity for growth, because the networks are volunteers are great, but operating the Internet from 9:00 to 5:00 so someone can go to bed or have a holiday sometimes doesn't work especially the expectation of how the Internet should be running these days.
So this challenge is about exploring mechanisms where finance can support, where there is technology that can exist in new and further improvements can only be done in any opinion when there is collaboration with organizations that are actually seeing the bigger picture.
We don't work on regulation, ISOC is supporting that effort. We don't have grass roots movements supporting APCs to take the lead, but we have connection with ISPs and the mobile operators and we want to build that, put a little bit that wall down. We have some of those great regulator from the Pacific that I'm looking across to Elsi in the room here, for example, that are deploying these ideas in different context. So I think that just trying to look at this without fear, so as Dan mentioned, not fear, that was not the word that you used, but fear of using without harming anyone sort of anything that you mentioned is really important. It can only be done when different organisations look at different parts of the pipe, and it's a shared responsibility to see how it is that we are going to achieve stable, open and reliable access and accessible access for those that don't have it now to participate effectively in what it is the world today. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We have heard from the team here different pieces of the stock taking, some of what we have done, some of the great policy regulatory challenges we have in front of us, funding mechanisms. Now, we would like to hear from you. The theme we had put together was the stock taking but also what the policy questions might be, but also what some of the solutions and recommendations are moving forward. We know that there are a lot of CNs around the room. There are others who are very interested. There may be more policy makers, regulators and funders. I will ask the questions we asked ourselves when we put this together to give you food for thought. In about two minutes we will be running through this.
When we put this together, we were looking at what factors should be looking at as complementary ways though help getting the unconnected connected. That's not the way the partnership may actually move forward in a productive way, because we don't want them to going to the regulator and policy maker saying don't let these little guys in because we can do this.
How can policy makers and Governments work with underserved rural remote and indigenous areas to work to empower them to create small local networks. What has to be done to reduce or eliminate barriers to community deployment. And what can we do at either end, legislation, administrative or regulatory environments? How can different approaches to speck trouble usage and innovative licenses help spread and support these models? How can we approach a multistakeholder approach for building networks. What role can other stakeholders play to build, operate and operate their own community solutions. So for those of you running community networks or supporting them, we would love feedback. Who wants to go first in these recommendations we want to take forward, and some of you may have innovative solutions that we haven't factored in?
So if you don't raise your hand, I might call even you. Yes.
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you very much. My name is Apkarim. I want to start first of all thanking the panelists. I thank you for doing a wonderful job, and I want to especially thank the Internet Society for the wonderful job you guys have been doing on community networks around the world and especially in Africa. However, I totally agree with the fact that we have gone a long way. It's not about community networks, is it going to work. It's working. We have been seeing some of the, we have all been seeing in recent time and it's been going on some time is the active commercialization of the critical infrastructures of the Internet.
And a lot of this is being, a lot of what we do in trying to promote the community networks have been narrated and arguments have been seen from partners in the last few days. It's giving me some fears to see that. Are we totally committed to those, to this commitment of connecting the entire world to the Internet?
And I want us to ‑‑ it's been a fear to me, because I just think some of the work we are doing, especially in this community, I just hope it's not going to be a rooted and especially with commercialization we have been seeing. With the arguments we are seeing about this.
And I'm going to share an experience. I want to say one of the challenges we have been having with community network is the fact that costs is one of the things and especially It comes to creating community networks in areas seen as open areas. It's been a challenge to us because regulators are saying you cannot create this network in an urban area. You cannot create competition. You are actually to drive that because as Carlos mentioned, some of these service providers, they are quite rich, and some of these prices are artificial price that's could actually be reduced if you have some ever this competition.
Just like Jane mentioned we are not try to create competition with ISPs but at the same time there has to be drive within a community. There has to be commitment or to see that this these things are working and this is one of the challenges I want to share and also my comments. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Actually there are some very viable community networks in urban areas. One of them is New York City Mesh. Take a look. They are a WiFi based with microwave links. They are using unlicensed spectrum. They are ruling out lots of different notes and they have agreement with DCIX it's a ISP for back haul so they have an excellent model worked out.
I will stop there. Who else? Lots of hands have gone up before. I will pick Rajan Mathews next and then there is somebody hiding behind that pillar. Rajan Mathews, you are up. And if you can give us recommendations that we can put forward, we are taking notes.
Mar Tannin, Director of technology, Southern California Tribal Association and 50 other things, I would like to suggest that we move forward in collaborating on an international community wireless Summit, community network Summit that we used to run them back in the day with those of you who know Sasha Hinerath and the people out of Champaign, Illinois partnered with people in EENA and people in Berlin. Vienna and Berlin. It's an opportunity for who want to build networks and people who do build networks to get together and share trade secrets and things on the ground.
This is already happening in ISOC community, the indigenous community Summit. We just finished in Hawaii and it's an amazing opportunity. So the tribal groups that are getting together are learning to build networks with very much benefit getting together with those other community networks and wireless networks around the world that have been doing it longer and in different scenarios.
It's an opportunity to get this community to grow, and then we need to develop some sort of platform or resource where we are all communicating. I know there are parts of those and they are fragmented, right.
I would like to get something that is more centralized where a Southern California tribe can talk to a network in Georgia, a situation like that where you have an extreme to another extreme and it may be beneficial because the Georgian mountains may be like the mountains of Colorado. And the brief is interested in building a network and they want to figure out, did this work, was it a military helicopter? That's cool. We just need those things, that sense of community, and we would like to rally around an event that doesn't exist anymore. That's my two cents at the moment.
>> Earlier this year I joined Carlos and ISOC at an event in Bangkok organized by a PC around the UN ESCAP event on the Asian information superhighway as it's called. Quite a large initiative run by UN ESCAP and community networks, we had a day on community networks. One of the things I found in talking to the Government representatives who come along because it's a UN event, was the community networks, many of them and this idea of the regulatory environment, and maybe this has been done previously by the community to excuse me if I have not seen E seen these.
They would ask so what regulations do I need to have in place to have my inclusive and connecting to community networks? Can you give me a list? Which leads me to suggest or have a question has the community thought of ranking countries in terms of how conducive and welcoming they are. Thailand is the most welcoming country in community networks. At least as I'm sure everyone knows, they can be quite parallel things. They can be quite competitive in the Asia‑Pacific, so make sure that I am at most CDIF country. A lot of the work that's been done, a lot has been done already to allow communities to say these are the communities that have the best regulatory element and the ‑‑
>> There are some good solutions that APNIC has built out, and I know this is a topic of conversation Ma Atsuki was one of the ISOC staff who partnered to do the African Summit which was in the fourth year this year.
Thank you, Duncan, because I was in Singapore last week and the three networks come in from Philippines and Indonesia and Thailand, and there are a couple of aspect of what good looks like. It's going to be different country to country.
Okay. Who else? Niko, Don, and Julian and so let's start with Niko, Julian, Don and Utra.
>> I have two hats, so I'm part of the organisation for radiocommunications which Sylvia and Kathleen said, I'm part of Trimondi. From my grassroots deploying community networks, it's amazing to have a good bunch of those that are supporting, actively supporting for many years the community networks movement, but I must say that it's task that is bigger than us all.
My comment is more about the way forward needs to have more focus, not just the ones that are there, not just those that are supporting those that are there. It's amazing that ISOC, APC, seat tele alliance and Frieda and others have supporting us to allow them to be doing what they are doing but also needs more for us. We will not get to 2030 with plenty of connectivity for everyone with just a bunch of us doing this.
So I guess my wish for the upcoming years is getting to work with Governments, Universal Service Funds resources to unlock them and getting them to work with their own communities in investing in community networks. And allowing those that have been forgotten about I our Governments and our markets to also have the chance to be connected.
>> Thank you. Julian.
>> JULIAN CASSES BUENOS: Thank you very much. Julian Casses Buenos, director of Coronado, not‑for‑profit organisation working in Colombia that we have been supporting community networks with a couple of projects in the last years and my recommendations will be based on the experiences that we have, and has to do with access to the Internet, good access. We have been trying to connect, as Sebastian says, news networks in rural areas to the nearest fiberoptic connection to guarantee high speed. So communities can really get all of the benefits from a good connection.
And we face different situations. We have two community networks recently that we connect to the fiber that is located in municipalities, and those that are more isolated, we have to pay more to get connected to that fiber, and that's in Buenos Aires in the southern part of the country and the other is in Mancasnani in the valleys in the east part of the country where there is more infrastructure and it is cheaper to get connected, but still we have to pay like 19% of taxes for that connection.
So that increase much more the prices.
And it seems that those that are not well connected have to pay more. So we have to change that, and work with Governments and regulators to see how can we reduce these costs of high speed Internet in rural areas. Another point is that we are dealing with right now in Colombia is the legal definition of community networks.
It's important that there is a definition what is a community network, not for profit operated by the community to operate their own infrastructure and so on. So in that way, we will be able, for instance, to better access to the universal communication funds because in Colombia since we don't have that definition, then it's, I think, that we will have to work harder with all stakeholders to get, for instance, access to those funds that must be part of them given to this kind of initiatives.
For us it has been very important. The support of other groups, Informatica in Mexico, old colleagues from APC to the projects that has been funded, the Locknet project and so on. It's important that donors and others interested keep supporting these kinds of initiatives and exchanges, and that has been for us very important for the, not to make the same mistakes and to better implement these kinds of initiatives.
And finally, I'll say that it will be important also to have some resources to evaluate the social impact of these kinds of projects, not only in terms of revenues or return of investment, but in social impact.
We believe that the amount or the level of impact of this kind of projects in the communities are very high, but we need to know with a good way how this impact is and what's the benefits from this kind of projects. Thank you. Will.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We have ten more minutes and we have at least three other speakers. Was there anyone else who wanted to say something? I have ‑‑ was anyone in the back. I don't know your name, but we will come to you in a second. Why don't we start with you, and I will go to the other guys. If you have about a minute, if you could go quickly.
>> AUDIENCE: I'm Shelbany from Granite. We work in community networks in rural remote villages of, away from Mumbai, unconnected villages. My question or my recommendation would be that at what point of time should we take this into the policy domain. Like in the sense that in India currently there is no policy on community networks, and we would like to do that. We want to begin, and we are not even, not even wanting to compete with the telecom operators and the others, but eventually the telecom operators are the Government is not even going into the locations where we are at least going in.
So that brings us to the challenge, the next challenge, and that is the challenge of even though we set up community networks by the, I mean, seed the road of community networks in remote locations but there is no one to take the bandwidth. So the unconnected even though we want to connect them, and they have the aspiration to connect themselves by seeding the growth of community networks, they eventually cannot connect themselves.
So we found out the solution now that we put up simple card based cellular router and just sort of enhance the signals at one point, at one particular location so at least the E‑governance services and the banking facilities can be enabled in the village. So I think that is something we would like to recommend.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Okay, Vasilles.
>> I would like to comment on the issue of complementarity. I'm very happy to share with you that we have been proposed as finalists for European broadband award which is, yes, we have been proposed at the category that is called the generation of take up connectivity. What this means is in our area people didn't mean, people used to think they didn't need Internet connectivity, and once we got there, we created our community network, people saw what the Internet has brought for them, then they started asking for it, also by the occupants.
So this is a very clear example of how we function complementary to the service that is provided by telecoms. And second point is that I heard excellent examples and work that is being done with regulators all over the world considering training or what community networks are and how they work. I would love, I would really love to have a small video like two, three, four minutes of all of this work that has been done globally that I could use with local regulators and show them that this is something really important that's taking up throughout the world.
That would really help us also promote our case. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: That's great, because I think that's something we could do collectively. Day, Don, and then Ucha and if we could go a minute each that would be great.
>> AUDIENCE: My name is Don Means with Gigabit Libraries Network out of California, and the partnership for public access, P4PA.net consortium of ISOC, IEEE, IFL, the library community looking at community networks public access centers like libraries and offline Internet is three approaches that should be able to reach anyone anywhere, not the same but interlocking approaches. I want to respond quickly to the policy issues that you mentioned earlier, Jane, around spectrum, universal service and permits which I can't speak to as well. That's a big variance on allowing these networks to operate. But for universe am service, it's a difficult area. It's much easier to collect the money than it is to spend it in a way that actually accomplishes universal access, universal service. We would make the point that connecting institutions, community institutions is an efficient way to spend money and actually provide access proximate access to everyone, and that these so called anchor institutions can be a core network to build out from and to try to advocate for the Government, the regulator to assume this responsibility in fact rather than just rhetorically to provide these kinds of resources and that one of the cases that could be made for doing this besides supporting education and equity of access which, of course, libraries stand for, is access to public information or E‑government we might say.
Every Government is spawning applications. Who are these for? They are for people that are connected? Well, it's one thing for Amazon to provide services only to people that are connected but it's a different thing for the public sector, for the Government to only restrict access, to restrict access to Government services. So we need an answer to that and I think it's a way to apply pressure on the regulator and the Government.
On the spectrum side, more spectrum, more open spectrum is better. I would just make the point that all spectrum originates as the public air waves, so it's a commons property originally. Through the vehicle of the Government, the regulators, we apportion it and assign it and license it for general benefit. A lot of that, most of that goes through commercial providers who in turn provide services, but some portion of the spectrum should be held for open use, public use like WiFi, tremendous value that really wasn't predicted, but in fact has changed the world, and that more spectrum should be set aside for public use.
If we license it, all off it would be analogous to taking all of the land and selling it off and then leasing it back, some back for a park, you know, in perpetuity. So public spectrum for public access is another area you could make an argument.
The last thing I would say is about the value of these networks to increase community resilience against disaster. We are looking at increasing, of course, climate‑driven events everywhere, we have fires are raging in California right now. The lights invariably go out.
Having a core network so designed for backup power is a way to add value to that and make the case for more resources. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Don, especially that whole issue with California and the fires. I know that communities got cut off. UCHA.
>> AUDIENCE: A legal question and thanks for this, for everything, especially for the policy document. Just a small idea that we had quite interesting point in the legislation about the community broadcasters because they have a different regime of regulations and quite different like my broadcasters. But we can ask and we can take the good practice because they don't have license, they have authorization and easiest way to ‑‑ because we need it to be, compete with telecos and also small and medium service providers. So I think that we can take this experience from society, from community radios and broadcasters and use it for community networks. Thanks.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. That's perfect. Thank you very much. Don't go because there is an awards ceremony from the CITEL alliance. Thank you very much. This is extremely helpful. APC, do you want to have anything to say in closing.
>> APC: Just briefly, there has been questions in every single question about policy and regulation. Tomorrow at the dynamic coalition on community connectivity in 3 in Saal3 we will be discussing in‑depth guidelines for policy and communication next works.
>> MODERATOR: Excellent. Go ahead Chet.
>> Sylvia, can we have the Dalai Lama to be the chief evangelist of community networks since it's been so successful. If Amazon can have a chief Evangelist, we can have one as well.
>> We can put a word for that. He blesses every piece of infrastructure that it deploys, so maybe we will see.
>> MODERATOR: We are going to turn it over to the CITEL Alliance now. Thank you for coming and thank you for participating.
>> CITEL ALLICANCE: Thank you, Jane, for the space to do this brief ceremony. So in the past some of you that have been to other IGFs we used to do more like a formal awards ceremony, and this time around we are hoping to do something a lot more informal. We are asking you to stay with us for an extra three minutes to accompany us in introducing the Frita community awards network for 2019. The project selected is from Colombia. It is a project hosted by (?) and I would like to mention three quick things about why they were selected for the award. (?) is one of the oldest community networks operating in Colombia and the organisation behind the project has been working for over eight years, first on sort of the setup of local communication networks in rural Colombia and later in sort of bringing, I should say, Internet connectivity specifically in the municipality of Kenya and Basher Cauca. The other pilot is that Northeret has placed emphasis on local content and they thoroughly thought why it was that they wanted to sort of bring connectivity to their community. And the last thing that is worthwhile highlighting is that their technical team has worked to sort of document different lessons around the setup of networks so that their solutions could be scaled elsewhere. As a matter of fact, they have actually supported the setup of other community networks in Colombia.
I have been also asked by colleagues to mention that back in 2014 they increased the Chris Nicol FLOSS Award from APC which recognized initiatives that were making it easy for people to start using open source software and this award was the main driver that pushed them to continue working on the development of Northeret. There is a lot more I could say about them, but I know time is short. So in presentation of Northeret we have Freddie Rivera with us. I ask you to come forward and I invite you all to approach them at the end of the session if you want to learn more about the project and hear more about Northeret directly from him.
I would like to also invite Stephon Lacano. He is a member of the LACNIC board which is the information that hosts the FRIDA and Stephon will be presenting the award. So please, guys, come up front. I ask you for a round of applause. Thank you very much.
We’ll do pictures afterward.
Thank you so much. Thank you, everyone, and as Carlos said DC3 tomorrow and there is a public libraries DC at the same time so you have options. But thank you very much.