The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF virtual intervention. 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, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> LUCA BELLI: Let's give three more minutes for our friends to join because everything we are saying now is recorded and transcribed live as you might see on your screen, so let's have three extra minutes for the.
>> SENKA HADZIC: We are missing Jane and Marwan.
>> LUCA BELLI: You saw him here. We are missing Jane and Nico. I'm not seeing ‑‑ you think we have almost everyone.
I would suggest we start in two minutes just to get everyone. I sent them a Whats App message to remember to join, but we can start in two minutes.
>> PAULO JOSE LARA: Can you hear me good.
>> LUCA BELLI: Yes, very well.
>> DAVID JOHNSON: In terms of screen sharing and all of that, shouldn't be any problem.
>> SENKA HADZIC: You were made co‑host.
>> LUCA BELLI: If anyone else that just joined needs to have screen sharing privileges, to share presentation, please just write it on the chat, especially if you want to write it directly to IGF 7, our co‑host, you can just write them and tell them that you need to have screen sharing privileges.
Start in one minute.
Let me check if there is any reply from them.
>> We all live in a digital world, we all need it to be open and safe. We all want to trust.
>> And to be trusted.
>> We all despise control.
>> And desire freedom.
>> We are all united.
>> LUCA BELLI: Good morning to everyone, and after yet another bombastic video from our IGF 2021 organizers, we are ready to start this annual section of the Dynamic Coalition on community connectivity.
I'm seeing Senka on the screen while I'm speaking, not sure if it is something everyone is seeing, but I just wanted to be sure that our technical support is following up. Now I think it was only on my side.
So welcome everyone, welcome to this 6th annual meeting of the Dynamic Coalition on community connectivity. It's a great pleasure to be with you and to see also the coalition expanding, new faces.
We are a large community of community networks supporters. My name is Luca Belli. Professor of the law school where I am one of the co‑founders of this coalition. I have had the pleasure of being with you over the past six years, and today I will co‑moderate this meeting with my good friend, Senka Hadzic many of you already know has been a great supporter and co‑editor of the book that we are releasing today, the book on community networks towards sustainable funded models, we will share the link that has just been sent by the IGF Secretariat in the chat in a couple of seconds. We already have this book, you can share it with the world.
A couple of words before we start, and we give the floor to our opening remark speakers, keynote speakers, we also have a video, who was not automobile to be here with us. Critically, I think this topic of internet access, connectivity, meaningful connectivity has acquired the seriousness it deserved, they consider it as something essential, but most people thought this may be a problem only for the developed world. Then the COVID‑19 arrived and we discovered it is a problem for everybody, it is a problem for developing world. As we recover from the hardest part of the pandemic, which is not over, but hopefully the hardest part is already behind us, it is very interesting to note that not only connectivity has become vital for everyone, for all our lives, professional lives, personal lives, our health, but our education, our community, everything, but also that there is still almost 40 percent of the population that is excluded from connectivity and we have once in a lifetime chance to make things better, as someone would argue, to rebuild things, but what is already taught as a fundamental right but many, connectivity, internet access is only a privilege for the wealthiest part of the world, and for the poorest part of the world, is simply a dream, that go that has not arrived yet, something that the classic strategies we have been using for the past decades clearly fail to accomplish universally.
So it's really time to think out of the box, to consider solutions to expand connectivity, community networks are a very interesting solution, a model we have been discussing for many years.
In cause none here or anyone here is watching us, has not heard, before about community networks, we may have new commerce, those are crowd sourced network, collaborative networks, developed in a bottom‑up fashion by groups of individuals, local communities, could be local administrations, local entrepreneurs, that local stakeholders, let's saw, let's create this partnership, this connectivity partnership and develop and manage the infrastructure as a common resource.
So this critical ‑‑ another point I want to stretch for those who are hearing about community networks for the first time, that you are not competing or antagonistic models to the existing ones, so the ones on priority sector investments or public funding.
They are community networks do not compete with this. They are used for complements to bridge all those gaps, those pluses left by the limits of the other classic strategies we have that clearly have limits, 40 percent of the unconnected population can witness.
So we are here to discuss community networks, we have been doing this for years, and now we are adding a perspective that was pretty much unexplored or very, very ‑‑ not neglected but with very good attention to it. Some research existed but not a lot. About the financial availability of networks. Which is a missing perspective that we are trying to discuss today. How can such what are the best practices. Many of the participants of this volume are here today as speakers, Senka has just shared this in the chat we will try to make the greatest visibility. Without further ado, I will gulf the floor to Senka to spend a couple of words about this book, this excellent initiative we have been organizing together and start with the opening remarks by Natalia.
>> SENKA HADZIC: I think I shared the link in the chat already. Yeah. I'll copy it once again. So this official outcome of the 2021 is a book what has been edited by Luca and myself and has opening remarks by Anriette Esterhuysen. We had 25 authors contributing to ten chapters which are a combination of papers, essays, case studies, reflections, stories from the field, from community networks all around the world, and as I want to want to point out, most contributors are community network practitioners and people who have built community networks and had actually experienced the challenges that they described in their stories.
So the book is a compilation of very different viewpoints and perspective on funding and sustainability, and I also want to highlight we have achieved quite some diversity when it comes to contributors in terms of geography, stakeholder groups and gender balance, as well. Yeah, as Luca said, some of the authors are here with us Todd, they will be unpacking their contributions in their talks later today.
Do not forget to download, read and distribute the book. Read, learn and be inspired. Thank you.
>> LUCA BELLI: Thank you, Senka for this, and indeed we have just shared the book. What is very interesting about this book, it's really concrete examples from people that build community networks and started community networks and advocate for community networks, also about the positive externalities they can generate. For those who have been reading what I have been writing, they have the determination of people, not only building connectivity but also building local digital ecosystems, local trade and business initiatives. Access to knowledge. It's really about self‑determination of people, discussing what is your cultural, technological and economic development, and this is really what the book ‑‑ all the book is about.
I also wanted to add something on top of Senka was saying about gender. It is not gender balanced, at the gender unbalanced, we managed pretty outstanding results, which is to have almost 80 percent of contributors that are female. Again, evidence that there is a lot of very smart and strong women leading in this field, and many of them are in this book, and it's really a privilege to have them as not only as friends, but also as co‑authors of this work.
So without further ado, I would like to ask ‑‑ I've not seen Anriette yet. I would like to ask her. Anriette Esterhuysen I am here.
>> LUCA BELLI: You are in the hybrid. Anriette Esterhuysen my battery is dead. There are no plugs.
>> LUCA BELLI: It's great to see you, I'm too formatted by Zoom. If I don't see them on Zoom, they don't exist. Anriette Esterhuysen new reality.
>> LUCA BELLI: The floor is yours.
>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: I'm so sorry, I have to also apologize, I notified Senka, I've been asked to stand in for a colleague who is supposed to present at the Dynamic Coalition on schools of Internet Governance, I'll make a few remarks and then I have to leave you.
Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to be here and for the opportunity to write the preface for your incredible book, and I won't really talk about that because I think you'll discuss that in the session.
I just want to make a few remarks about why I think this dynamic coalition has been so successful. It demonstrates what is Dynamic Coalitions in the Internet Governance forum can achieve. First, it was set up and initiated by practitioners for themselves, but in an inclusive way.
So this Dynamic Coalition has community networks in it, it has academics in it who can do analysis and help document the experience. It has institutions like the Internet Society and association for progressive communications that do some advocacy work and support work. And that can help generate financial support. And I think you need more of that.
But really, it has the community networks in it.
I think the second really critical success factor of this Dynamic Coalition, you are using this to not only promote community network, it's not a competitive model, it's a model that complements huge gaps and help to fill huge gaps in the ecosystem.
What I really admire about this Dynamic Coalition, it interrogates its own practice. You're not just selling the idea of community networks, you're looking at what are the challenges, how do you deal with gender, equality, for example, how do you deal with issues of inequality and power and local ownership and control in community networks. You're dealing with the usual of sustainability. It's that critical thinking by and for the community networks community, for Luca, I see Nic Bidwell as well. People who do analysis and I think makes this such an incredibly powerful Dynamic Coalition, I've been the MAG chair of the IGF for the last two years, my term has ended, but even prior to that, when I was still with ABC, I just watched this Dynamic Coalition with such a sense of appreciation, and admiration, because I think it just ‑‑ it's such a powerful expression of how this form of collective community of practice can work and have impact. So I just wish you well, and I know that your journey is continuing.
I think this book is tackling the issue of sustainability, which is one of the many issues that you're continue to tackle. So just congratulations to all of you and don't give up, carry on and be critical about those that need to be criticized and look at your own practice through your critical but creative perspective and lens as well. Back to you, Luca.
>> LUCA BELLI: Thank you very much, Anriette for these very inspiring remarks and it's great to have you as a supporter and you mean, as you were saying, the great part of this coalition, it's ate community of community networks, and very diverse, very multistakeholder example of Internet Governance in the purest sense. A lot of stakeholders coming together, discussing new principles, new analysis, new practices, in order to share the evolution of the internet. I would like to ask my colleague if he could kindly share the video for the other keynote speaker, Natalia Vinelli, director for Enacom, so please, Walter, if you could share her opening remark.
Hello, how are you? First of all, thank you for the invitation to participate in this conference. I would like to be able to be in synchronous meeting, but today is not possible so I share it through this video that will reach the organizers of the events.
My name is Natalia Vinelli, and I am a Deputy Director of a special project at Enacom, which is the National entity of communication. The work we have carried out is focused on bringing the internet to where the market considered it is not profitable, and therefore we understand that the state has to ensure access to connectivity to all people living in our country.
In this particular case of the work, we do from the sub‑direction, the focus is on the rural communities and nature of peoples and the peoples who live in the popular neighborhoods of our country, which amount to more than 4 million people.
It seems important to me to emphasize that both the sub direction and the policies emanating from the national communications entity are built in an articulation and dialogue with the social movements and the networks that bring together the sector. In this context, and after the great work of dialogue with the community networks, we built a specific tool for these networks, which is Roberto Arias connectivity program, a financing model in the promotion of community networks in rural areas and communities of native people.
This is the first time that the national entity of communication develops a specific tool for the community. Until now, there was no tool that could contemplate the needs of this sector which we are releasing a tool that aims to developing the connectivity infrastructure in these areas, and that also give a bonus for the whole internet service for six months.
The interconnection with the community network puts a special emphasis on training in the development of a model and the maintainers of the network by its own users.
But community network, we understand networks that are self‑managed, by their own community, until the moment when we took over the public management. There were two networks operating with license in our country, Argentina. This number was growing in the last year, between 12 and 14 community licenses were approved, and we opened a specific line hoping to collaborate on work and guarantee the access to connectivity for all the people who live in our land.
Program is named after Roberto Arias, precisely in recognition of the importance of the community sector. Roberto Arias was a popular communicator, very involved in the defense of nature, creator of an interculture and neighborhood in the south of our country. This is an interesting fact because the community networks that we see are presenting themselves to programs are often associated with previous work related to communication.
With community televisions and community radios, that is to saw, this sector has been advancing and growing and has managed to professionalize itself and still has many countries to achieve. It is also growing in terms of management and advancing towards processes that allow them to work with connectivity for their communities. The Roberto Arias program is mainly aimed at networks. So commercial providers cannot participate in this call and specifically prioritizes nature of communities which are registered by the national government and communities lunged to formerly farming.
We understand this is related to the management guidelines established by the national entity of communication at the beginning of the new administration from 2020.
This management guidelines place the reduction of the digital gap at the center, we understand that this sector is the most unique and had to be the first to be able to reach everyone.
Well, this is all I wanted to share with you and to emphasize the importance of the dialogue between the state and the popular organizations because where there is dialogue in joint work, wonderful things come out. Surely now in other dissertations of this meeting we are all going to hear and know.
>> SENKA HADZIC: Thank you, Walter, for playing this video. Unfortunately, Natalia could not be present here at this session today.
Our next speaker, Nicolas Echaniz is from Altermundi and will speak about the practical side of this program that Natalia says introduced in this video. Over to you.
>> NICOLAS ECHANIZ: Hello, everybody.
Well, thank you very much for inviting me. I'm very glad to see our DC3 thriving and so many many familiar faces here.
I wanted to share a bit from the perspective of the movement, of the community networks movement here in Argentina regarding the programs that Natalia just presented. We actually struggled for many, many years to have a program that can best meet the universal service funds to community networks. As far as we know, these new programs from the Enacom are the first programs in the world that are destined specifically to community networks and not just to small operators. The regulators here has many programs destined to different kinds of operators, and these new programs are exclusively for community networks, and that is very important because one thing that happens with programs that are destined to different sectors is that the traditional operators usually tend to apply to please programs very fast, because they are already operating networks for many years, and they have the skills and the knowledge to manage presenting programs to ‑‑ presenting projects to these programs, but for community networks, this is a really difficult step.
They are not used to working with the national regulator, they are not used to the process, the bureaucracy, and to all the difficulties that represent presenting such projects to programs.
So having a program exclusive for community networks, we believe has been very important. So community networks can take their time to study, to understand what it means to present such projects, and also to be automobile to comply with all the requisites that the programs present, which is also new to them.
This has administrative problems, this has technical issues, and it all needs to be addressed collectively, discussed in assemblies, sometimes by assemblies of native people that are discussing technology issues for the first time. So it is important that the program has been designed in this way.
We still find although this program, when it was published, you treated ‑‑ this is the first perfect program I see from our national regulator, and I still think it's a very good program. It was the result of lots of activism from our movement.
We still find that there's a barrier for community networks, not for established community networks, but for organizations that aim to create their first community networks in their territories.
You have to understand these two programs that Natalia mentioned, the people involved, the people that could apply to this program, are 4 million people in urban areas and 3.5 people in rural areas. So most of the communities and organizations that will be applying to these programs have never operated networks and haven't had any opportunity yet to create their own infrastructures. So there is an important barrier there that we are trying to address by bringing in funding from other sources that can make sort of a seed funding so that the communities can have small experiences that will allow them to have the abilities and mind set to apply for bigger funding, which is provided by the Roberto Arias and the programs.
These fundings are up to $100,000, which for a small community, is big funding, and so they struggle to envision what they will do and how they will develop the network.
We believe that this seed fundings are important for them to have their first experiences, for them to be able then comply with technica, with network mapping, with all the requirements, but for the regulator, our standard requirement any accomplished operator would have no problem complying to, but social organizations in territorial collectives are seeing for the first time.
We still think creating seed programs will be very important, but the creation of them, we would say this big funding opportunities is not only very important for the community and networks here in Argentina but for the world.
The last IGF, I remember that some of us that are here Todd were summoned to a meeting to talk about funding for community networks, and one of the things I said there was we need to fund every community network project, we don't need to select community network projects, we need to fund them all, because all community networks are needed. Whenever there is a community network project, that project is in an area where there will be no other connectivity. So we need to fund them all. And I think that programs such as this, that Enacom has created, these are not programs that make the different community networks project compete among themselves, they are all funded, every project that complies to the requirements is funded, and there is already the agreement that the regulator will add more funding to these programs when the funding is depleted.
So I hope this will be a good example for other regions and for other countries, and I hope that the book from the DC3 will also be regarded as a reference in this matter.
I don't know if my time is up.
>> LUCA BELLI: It is, Nico, thank you very much. I will remind all speakers to try to stick to 5 or 6 minutes so we have some time for debate and thank you very much, Nico for this, it reminds us of two important things here, Enacom, we really have to praise the kind of effort they have been doing because they have been hearing, listening from communities and really try to do the best possible to facilitate community networks, so this is really something that should be praised and considered as a best practice. But there's always room for improvement and especially it's always difficult to facilitate of community networks or but in terms of funding, but in terms of capacity building and in terms of reducing any kind of other problems that you might have, technical problems, access to resources, and here is where I would really like to give the floor now to Marwan Fayed, who is, I think, probably the first speaker from a purely private company we have over the past years, it's really difficult to have speakers from private sector that are interested in engaging with community networks, and I would like to thank Marwan for his availability. I know they have been doing some excellent work at Cloudflare with community networks and communities that build community networks in mind, please, Marwan, the floor is yours.
>> MARWAN FAYED: Well, thank you Luca, I was honored and humbled to be here.
I hope it's okay that I share a few slides, I'll try and run through them quickly.
>> LUCA BELLI: Can we ask the technical support to give Marwan cohost privilege. Yes, perfect.
>> MARWAN FAYED: As Luca said, this is fabulous, all the things that I'm hearing, good to see some familiar faces, a couple of people might be hearing this idea not for the first time. I apologize for that, but hopefully there's a different enough spin on it to make it still interesting.
It's true I'm from Cloudflare, I'm also a co‑founder and director at a community network in the U.K., called Hubs, and former Professor at the University of St. Andrews, just to give context, it may be obvious in this room, my name is one of so very many, I wouldn't be here speaking if it wasn't for their efforts.
So I want to talk about the perspective of a content service or delivery network, and for people in the room who are unfamiliar with these ideas, these are the large networks that empower the internet and the transfer of data without ever being seven or known. These include Cloudflare, certainly, Akami, Fastly, Amazon to some extent, we could start to rope in some of the large end providers, things like the Microsofts and so on, IBM's of the world that have large private networks of their own. In the interest of transparency and positioning, I'm going to talk on the heels of having launched a program at Cloudflare called project Pangea, providing free internet incentives for community networks. I'll talk about why this is important in a moment, but also within the community networks organization that we have up in Scotland, if only for credibility, on the heels of being encouraged by them, we decided to apply for the sustainability award, we were winners, winning in 2016.
Pointing out the obvious here, which is that community networks can and do need to deploy their own local infrastructure and can do that just fine. Once they have their own local infrastructure, of course, there needs to be connectivity to the internet connection point, and most often this is not local. You'll stop here and point out that both of these are largely within the community's control, and by no means am I suggesting these are easy. Many of the problems are certainly surmountable with the right supports, and, again, mostly governed by the communities and stakeholders, the last thing they need to do is purchase these onward internet services, this is where they get routes to and from the open and public internet. Most often this is bundled with backhaul, the idea of carrying data from one place to another, not actually routing, but it's not an actual requirement.
So if I go over these, if I look up here in the upper left, this is the co‑location model, very few community networks happen to be so fortunate, but if you are, tends to be more urban located and you tend to be very close to where the internet connection point is and just put in a router or box, connect directly. This second model here is the most dominant model I'm aware of, you have a community network in one place on the left and the internet connection point on the right and have some third party that connects the two. Very often the third party, as you said earlier, I see the backhaul provider, the internet service provider as well.
There's this third model that has started to emerge, Nico's network, Altermundi is an example, and our o own Hubs does this as well, community networks and the community-oriented networks and that you are stakeholders in the back haul network that carries data from the wherever these networks happen to be to the internet connection point and provides that service. Really advantageous model because the communities are not only stakeholders in their own infrastructure but in the infrastructure that carries the whole. So that you can decide how to reinvest when there is revenue to do. So
So coming back to this long list of things that are reasonably familiar, I think, to many who are involved in the response, you'll point out the first two, while within control, but this third one on the back haul and the internet connectivity itself, the pricing is often x locking people out. That is assuming the service is available at all.
This is the problem I want to talk a little bit about today. You'll point out here something that is maybe obvious once it's stated. These content delivery and service networks, or private networks are not actually internet service providers, but that you are incredibly well-connected networks, when I say well connected, that's relative to the region of coverage. The global network will have more connection points. But for size and coverage, they tend to be well connected.
So then the question is what might these types of networks do to contribute to the community models and why would they want to do so,
So I'll stop and say the content delivery networks are already set up to do this. Personally, they have all of the equipment and infrastructure, and probably have additional services to offer community networks. Externally, they participate in the open network directly and have all of the know how to do this. Irrespective of size, the size of the network tends to determine the provision of service, which is most often appropriate.
So I'm going to claim here why. This is the why these networks with do this. The incentives better a line with CDN's than the traditional and conventional carriers.
First let's deal with the additional cost of taking on community network traffic. If you're a large CDN, you are unlikely to feel the additional traffic generated but the community networks. This is terra bits a day. If you're a small CDN, you would incur some small additional cost, the more you need to do, the cheaper it gets. By taking on the CDN traffic, you can negotiate better rates overall.
Most importantly, I'll point out the CND are not the end users, the customers are the people who have the content themselves. It could be mug from genuine content providers to government services, okay.
And if there are more connections into the network, then there are happier customers, there's more people to buy services, it's easier to fill out forms, and the list goes on and on and on, you could actually not only increase the audience for the customer but reduce the customer costs directly because that you don't have to provide as much support for offline services.
As far as charging models claim, there is no reason for this to be anything more than cost coming back to the first bullet up at the top.
I can say this works because Cloudflares own Pangea project launched earlier this year received far more interest than we anticipated and still playing catchup. It's been launched for Cloudflare as part visit the social responsibility program. I'm not suggesting this is easy for these types of networks, there are things to consider, so these networks are typically set up for downstream, mostly one‑way traffic, but the community network would add the upstream, there might be issues of isolating, how do you isolate that from the community. So these things exist, but not insurmountable.
Quick summary, something we all know, onward internet service cost can improve speed sustainability, no matter the models in place in advance, CDNs are well connected the incentives are there, no reason to charge more than cost. You want to finish with one question, I only wish we could find an answer today. Maybe, possibly the community and cooperative models could also plod to the CDNs themselves. I'll give you a simple example. Three years ago a large measurement study found that most of the interest in content in Africa, people in Africa who wanted content that was in Africa, their connections actually had to leave Africa before they could get data. You could imagine if there was a content delivery network focused on Africa, not only would you then reduce the cost and increase the performance, but then you also might be able to establish some new connection points for these communities to connect to.
With that, I think went over slightly. I'm really sorry, Luca.
>> SENKA HADZIC: That was very interesting presentation. As Luca se, we don't often get contributions from, you know, the private sector. But sense we are a little bit behind on time, let me quickly introduce the next speaker, who is Mike Jensen, probably doesn't need much introduction, the community networks veteran, let's say, and Mike will be unpacking the contribution to the DC3 outcome. Mike, please.
>> MIKE JENSEN: Thanks very much, Senka. I want to start off by congratulating Nico's work and Altermundi's and the Sterling achievement of getting a new flagship initiative going where we are seeing support for community networks. Rhyme really hope flu that experience will be emulated elsewhere because generally, this is our key problem, is that to connect to unconnected areas or to connect unconnected people in the areas, governments around the world just subsidize large commercial operators to reach the rural and remote areas, who then have to make a large investment in the infrastructure that often don't provide sufficient revenue to cover the maintenance costs which are high in these remote areas or have to impose high user fees which makes the service unaffordable for the majority of those people living in these low income areas.
So just to dwell on some of the other alternatives we have been looking at, because this idea of universal service funding is really a very new one, and we haven't had many other examples of this anywhere really so the association for progress communications, locknet program has been supporting a variety of different networks around the world with different funding approaches that we hope will demonstrate the alternative to the strategy of funding the big commercial operators and hopefully some of the lessons we learned will be useful. Most of this is documented in the chapter on sustainable funding models that has been published. I want to highlight a couple of the key observations that we make as an introduction to the potential discussion of the range if you have funding sources that community networks generally consider in trying to get startup funding and operator funding too.
One of the key conclusions is there's a limited potential for commercial funding. Mainly due to three factors. One is that there's quite a high perceived level of risk in making these kinds of commercial investments, which, you know, are really required have deep strategic investments. Part of it is genuine, often there is a look of experience with rural communities who ‑‑ and the rural context, they're unfamiliar with that. At the same time, the experience of these rural communities in managing a complex technical service like connectivity provision is low. So they may well generally be high risk in making these kinds of investments.
Perhaps an even bigger factor is community networks are often extremely small relative to these large commercial players, may only be serve a few dozens or hundreds of users, and so, of course, they're less attract of to the traditional sources of commercial finance or even development assistance because the overhead for administering these kinds of projects are just the same for much bigger projects. So to disburse a very small amount of funds out of the large investment fund or large development program is very costly to do on an individual basis with these very small networks.
And then perhaps as important as that, the fact that most of these community networks offer low surface revenue. Unlike the traditional telecommunication operators, who price their services for the wealthier markets, and expect to make a significant profit, often having to get a return on investment in the course of three or five years maximum. While many of the community‑based network projects don't actually aim to make any profit at all, because they're trying to ensure that the costs they recover from the users are as low as possible so that the service is as affordable as possible in these low-income areas.
So these three factors really argue against any real potential for the kind of traditional commercial funding in most causes.
Now, these observations have led us to better understand the key role of what we call miso organizations.
So these are basically national, regional organizations that support multiple CN's. This could potentially increase the scale of these initiatives to the extent that one might be able to attract some form of soft funding, for example, that would be inappropriate or unachievable for very small organizations.
But these miso organizations typically support the management of the back haul link to the ‑‑ on behalf of CTH members, negotiating with commercial operators, for example, they also operating national schools for community networks in many cases to build the skills needed to manage these networks sustainably, to build the networks and aiding connectivity issues so they are able to do more effective regulatory change, which is needed to make them more effective and able to recover the costs of the network from their end users and also to be able to solicit state funding or other sources of funding.
Some examples of these miso are Altermundi in Argentina. Another partner we work with extensively is Tick AC in Mexico which operates or supports about 20 small community networks, the holder of the mobile license that these networks operate under, and they do a lot of technical support for them individually.
Similarly, we have a network in South Africa called Zen Zelani we are working with. They are a nonprofit which then supports two cooperatives with the same names, in two different areas, and helping these two networks obtain the necessary capacity.
An example in Asia you'll end with easy Common Room, which is, again, working with a number of different small‑scale producers and small‑scale networks and even community radio stations to help them gone the capacity that they need to be sustainable. I'll leave it there so we can have maximum time for questions, thanks very much.
>> LUCA BELLI: Thank you very much, Mike. We are actually trying to gather questions in the chat to have them at the end, because as there are many speakers, we are running a little bit, not out of time, but we still have a good 40 minutes, but it would be better to have all speakers presenting before having a final Q&A at the end. So please, everyone who has questions, put them in the chat, we already have some, a couple addressed to Nico and a couple to Marwan, we'll try to have them all in the debate the end. I would like to offer apologies, I will have to leave ‑‑ well, at the end of the hour sharp because I have another session starting. Without further ado, we have just heard many wonderful examples and practical details from one of the community networks veterans and there is another one that is always mentioned as one of the most knowledgeable people in community networks, which is Jane Coffin, who is another really well‑known community networks veteran and a good friend. She is here with us today.
John, you have been supporting all community networks around the world for years, and please, Jane, the floor is yours.
>> JANE COFFIN: Hello, everyone, and just to clarify, I thank you, Luca, I'm speak egg at Jane today, I'm in between jobs, some of you knew me when you was ISOC, you still know me, but I'm moving on to a new opportunity soon with Connect Humanity, it's right up this alley that I'll to Connect Humanity, which is a fund hoping to finance projects like these with loans or grants. So this topic is one that when I was working at the internet siting, the fabulous team there will be focusing on financing models for sustainability.
It's been great to hear what everyone, all of the good inputs from everyone today. While you were speaking, I was thinking about the importance of interrogating our own practice, and I want to bring up a point that a friend has made, the new CEO of Connect Humanity, I'm not putting in a pitch for that organization. A concept the markets are abandons. There are markets in rural areas, we need a different type of approach.
I would point the people either in the room in Katowice or on this call to page 58 of the book, Luca, that you and Senka have edited and put out. You'll see Steve, who is on this call. The three rocks, the crucial itself, because if you look on page 58 and see the jars of rocks, you'll see three jars, big rocks, big and medium sized, big rocks, need union sized rocks and small rocks, Steve will say to channel hum a little bit, this can symbolize the number of nets that can be available in a market. It can symbolize the number of different types of regulations you can have and policies and the different types of funding models you can have in a community. Or in a region.
If we take the old traditional route, we are buying into traditional financial models. I'm a firm believer, and Mike mentioned this earlier, there are some big donors, the billions and millions, right? We have seen the change a small amount of funding can do, grant based, it's moved into more grant based funding, I believe soon it will be repayable when the model there in Georgia develops, you have UCH, started out with a $40,000 grant in Georgia which led to U.S.A. ID, the World Bank, tech development agencies and others putting in funding as they saw the importance of rejuvenating rural areas, bringing connectivity for many different reasons. The usual is there are markets, they're different markets. It might be something where we are looking at router-based systems or that you do need the startup funding as Mike pointed out to get you going and change those funding mechanisms.
I'm a serious believer in the fact we can come at this from a different perspective, it's not lost or abandoned markets, but different markets.
Mike, where when you said that private funding is some of the very risk averse and have a risk assessment model, not sure how they can recoup investments, and there is lack of experience in rural communities with some of those models and perhaps we need to look at the rural communities to redevelop models for financing and take a different look at what investment means and human capital, and this is some of the impact investment going on as well rather than the planet.
With these remote rural communities, they're different market. If we hear from traditional operators they can't serve community ‑‑ 55,000 and under because they can't get their return on investment, we know that you are amortizing equipment, that you are counting practices, then those models are broken for the rural areas. Those models don't work.
So we have to reinvigorate and create moo models, just as we have done with community networks. If all those rocks can fit in the jar together, then we can come up with new funding models to fit in the different funding jars, Steve, I don't think what you put in there, if you don't have rocks. We could add in ‑‑ many of you know me, I'm willing to hack anything, which probably gets me in trouble most of the time.
Look, there's a way for us to do this and aggregate donors, whether it's loan based or grant based, I think that's what many of us do together as partners. We have worked in partnership together to create funding opportunities and training opportunities, and that is part of the impact investment, I would say from the donor community and from the ‑‑ whether it's the intersociety, APC, it's a development bank, you're relying on the humans on ground to input human knowledge, there's value there.
What is it we are trying to tap when we look at new risk? The people leaving the community? No, staying there? Yes. Connect candidate yes, do they want connectivity. Question, there's no stable of risk, they'll be there, if there's investment in that region, that investment is not just sunk costs, as some people saw, recoverable costs because some communities, there can be, whether it's putting the human effort back into building out the network free, if you will, not really free, free, we have the labor paid for, in that sense. If you look in the high mountains of Georgia, people have donated their time and capital. So there's something there on the return on investment that isn't broken.
So I would posit that we need to shake things up a little bit. Some of the extra durable donors will look at us like we are crazy, we have seen what microfinance can do and collective action can do, why I'm excited to think about the ways we can publicize, thank you, Luca and Senka and everybody that contributed to the book. Those getting those stories out there are supercritical. I said this on a panel yesterday for I'm not sure it was the NRI panel. We have to get the case studies out there, why people will not believe us there's a potential with the lack of risk. If Marwan's company can come in and say we are willing to work with you, this is how Hawaii has gone into an indigenous community, they took a chance on the community because that you knew the network was built that you could Interconnect with. Hawaii‑tel is providing free back haul for a year, but that community does have a revenue stream from naturally run products which they'll work out a deal with Hawaii Tel, they don't seem to be interested in eating that network, they want to Interconnect it with it. That goes to Nico's point and yours, Luca, about self‑determination and working with producers to cut deals.
I think we can shake things up a little bit, universal service my last pitch, let us change universal as far as for funding mechanisms for community networks. We can't keep the old lock‑in, that old model of funding supports the old model. I'll stop now, Luca, thanks.
>> LUCA BELLI: Thanks very much, Jane, very inspiring, we all know that we have been. We had an excellent relationship with you with your previous hack. We know we will have a great relationship with you in your new hat. Which is a new initiative which is worth checking.
Now I would like to gulf the floor to my friend, Senka, not only has been coordinating the work with me, but also drafting a very interesting chapter together with David Johnson about community networks, how that you need community currencies, a very interesting marriage to also explore with and discuss some years ago, and really needs a very ‑‑ to be well understood for the potential it can have. After Senka's presentation, I will suddenly have to leave because I have another session starting in ten minutes. So I have ‑‑ at 55 I have to leave, I will leave you in the very good hands of Senka. That is not only going to present now, but also finalize the session of today. Thank you very much, Senka, the floor is yours.
>> SENKA HADZIC: Can everybody see my slides? Yeah, okay, I will be unpacking our contribution to the DC3 report I co‑authored with David Johnson, speaking next just after me. And our partner organization. Before I start, I would like to highlight for this project we received support from the internet society foundation as independent researchers.
Just to give you some background on what motivated us to do this research. As much as we would like to make action to the internet entirely free, it is simply not sustainable in the long term, there will be some running costs, back haul, maintenance and other operational costs. We basically need to mindfully design our packages and pricing, so people are still able to afford it. Even for a nonprofit, whether it's an ISP or cooperative or community network, some expenses will need to be covered. The other issue is the funding landscape, which is often focused on the potential of squall. This is somewhat contradictory when talking about innovation.
We are trying to address both of these issues with the concept of community inclusion currencies.
Our partner organization, grassroots economics has implemented community currency programs in 45 locations across Kenya and contribute to long term economic development and strengthen the communities am make them more resilient. In certain communities there is not enough cash flow does not mean there is no income generating activity going on. In fact, community currencies are backed by some of those activities within the community, being it farming or food production or certain services and so on.
In this project, we are exploring the potential of community inclusion currencies to provide rewards, monetary rewards to users who help expand community networks, this can be done in several ways, for example, installing or hosting or maintaining infrastructure or generating local content.
How this token-based reward mechanism is embedded in the mesh property Cal. Something David will explain in more detail in the next presentation.
We are engaging with two communities. One of them is ocean view, low-income area in the outskirts of cop town, South Africa, we have been engaging with this community since 2017. There the network is pretty much all set up, up and running, it is a combination of mesh network providing internet access and the platform providing access to local content and services free of charge.
What we mostly busy with these days, halfway through the project is seeding the idea of community inclusion currency and once that consent is more adopted, people will be able to pay for internet access using the currencies, using rewards when hosting equipment on those the premises. We believe this effort will help increase a sense of local ownership, which is essential for community networks.
At our pew lot south in Kenya, it is quite different, grassroots economics, our partner organization has already been very successful implementing community including currencies and people use them on a daily Bosnia. Earlier this year, people seem to be very interested in local content and the local platform. They would like to host, for example, a repository of all locations where they can trade a local community currency. In this sense, the network that we are building there would strengthen the already existing ongoing community initiatives around financial inclusion.
When it comes to financing and investment, so if we talk organized bandwidth, then we can tokenize the future production of that band width and several small ISP's or community networks would create tokens redeemable for their bandwidth, and these can be part of liquidity pools that connect them to a common token and impact investors who are eventually interested in supporting a portfolio consisting of multiple ISP's or multiple community networks, they can do so by investing in the token. If they want to focus on scale, this could be a way to invest in community networks at once while that you maintain the very local context.
So in that sense, this tokenization of bandwidth could address the usual of financial sustainability of the networks, how to make them survive financially beyond the initial rounds where back haul and everything is sponsored, as well as the issue of the scale focused funding agendas.
And yeah, I just wanted to add we have dedicated a section on the website to small blog posts and updates on this particular project, please take a look and reach out for any further information.
Okay. You see Luca has left us, but then I guess I will be introducing David, the next speaker. Slightly different perspective.
>> DAVID JOHNSON: Awesome, great, thanks, Senka for that intro. The slide okay, I'll just full screen it. All good. All right, fantastic, let me move this out of your way so thanks a lot, Luca just left, and Senka for the opportunity to just share my journey you, today I'll be talking about empowering digital participation and affordable access through the iNethi platform, there is a focus on community inclusion tokens. So before I begin, I want to acknowledge the Ocean View community, really, without them, none of what I'm talking about would have been possible. Thanks, again, to community currency experts partners, Grassroots Economics and the Internet society foundation, our funders.
So really the core principle of iNethi is working with to codesign this. They're relevant to communities through the workshops. What you'll see here is where we began our journey, with a set of workshops to understand what the community needs in late 2017.
One of the key messages we actually heard in this workshop and listening to the community was a need for community currency. I just want to play this video of him sharing his dream for the community
>> A small community like this, 90 percent of the small economy of Ocean View is in the hands of people living outside of Ocean View. With the money spent on these residences immediately leaves the community and also when community leaders are being asked or talk about the economic development is being held, they normally think that they are getting big corporations an easy solution, but then again, the money leaving the community and all the other small business is closing down as well.
What we have been thinking of these, to have the money circulating in the community and how do we get that. One of the options is to have a small currency or local currency that only has value here. Once that currency is being used and supported by the community, these bigger businesses, doesn't matter who comes in, they will have to buy into that currency.
>> DAVID JOHNSON: Great. What you would have picked up there, is ‑‑ is really there's this problem of 90 percent of the money leaving the community and going to outside businesses and this need for community currency to build a local economy.
Okay, now I just got to work out how this works, yeah.
So quick background to inethi. It allows them to run low-cost internet service and provide free localized services and access to local content. And the free localized services provide a lot of analogs to services you would find on the internet, file sharing, and they have rolled out a number of hot spots across the community, so you'll see these indicated but the blue circles. At the moment, go back a few months ago, there were about ten, connected via mesh back haul, the inethi are available from these hot spots. In terms of sustainability at the moment for the network, deploying inethi, deploying is from Internets batches, cheaper than cellular networks, it provides voluntary services and network monitoring tool.
Developing this community inclusion token that can be used to pay for the services. And this is being funded by the arrows are rewarded for traffic passing through their router. And you would sort of in this picture, the red circles are where users have added sort of their own routers where they are rewarded and we thought maybe we could cover the whole community with this concept, we needed 250 Wi‑Fi hot spots to cover the community. And the technology to make this is developed but inethi. Traffic passes through, they use a stable version of the code that's based on a public permissionless blockchain, based on approval this is what we have learned, problem one, most community members can't afford to buy $150 router, second problem for this crypto currency, the on ramp is very expensive to send $10 to a wallet can cost 10 and $20, payments are creeping up, this is XDAI to XDAI.
it took 5 seconds and now transactions cost approximately 1 cent, they've gone up three orders of mag mid too and take 15 seconds, you have this conundrum where if you build a sidechain to speed up transactions and lower fees, as it grows in popularity, fees go up and transaction times get up.
So this is sort of idea 2 in our journey, working with grassroots economics, is to create a community inclusion token. They use something called proof of authority blockchain and have a group of people offering services and products in the community, and this is in Kenya, we will do something similar that accept this token. In this picture, you could say in green, there's a community member that Beaus tokens with bulk discounts from the community network. This is akin to buying time from the operator. The community member could then redeem some of these tokens for data at any point, usually they have been incented for a large number of tokens, getting a better value. They can be redeemed at other vendors that are part of the system. That join the community inclusion token such as the food garden or math tutor, you can even have something like recycle collection points that pay people in tokens for bringing, for example, glass or plastic.
So how this would also work with the network, the network organization can pay them to host, in community inclusion token or directly by data vouchers and the community members could also pay to advertise, for example, for file storage, as well, and community inclusion tokens. And using a national currency could be used, but this would be incentivized by using this friction, you could say, a 5 percent low payout for router owners if they use a national currency to encourage use of the local currency.
So I'll stop there and thanks very much for listening. This is a work in progress and really evolving as we learn, please visit the website where we have a blog about our journey, I'll end there, and thanks, Senka.
>> SENKA HADZIC: Thank you, David, there are some questions, discussions in the chat related to blockchain, so please feel free to enter the discussion, I'm afraid we won't have much time for Q&A. So our next speaker is Sarbani Belur, Sarbani is a research scientist at the Indian institute in mum Beau and the Asia regional coordinator for APC, community networks. Please, Sarbani, go ahead. Do you have slides.
>> SARBANI BELUR: No, I don't have. Thank you, Senka, it's a privilege to speak about the work that we do and DC3 gives us a platform to do so. I'm very happy to speak about this work of ours, the work we wrote up in the DC3 report is on ‑‑ trying to understand how community networks be funded in the last mule, and one of the ways by which the community networks can be funded is through ‑‑ is to the development plan, inclusion of internet for development plan. So what is a village council office that is there in India, all over Indian, we have 250,000 village council offices in India.
And what happens is that the optical, initiative that is the optical fiber, there are minutes at these village council offices.
Now, it is very difficult because paranet does not have a sustainable business model yet, so the one that was ‑‑ that we had actually asked for was 150 bandwidths to be available at the village council office has now become only two mvp's of bandwidth, that is all subsidized rate. The subsidy is removed, that means it is going to be expensive. We wrote up this article on the ‑‑ for the call for inclusion for internet development in the grant block development plan. Why is this not happening in this development plans in India is a matter of concern because optical fiber is not developing the council office. Where it has reached, there is only 2mvp's of bandwidth and not sufficient for them to carry out the work.
This based on the model that is the private‑public model that has been worked on by me and my team members. Since 2018 when we connected the villages in remote areas.
There is a need for the village council offices to come into this partnership model, because they are the ones who have the finance available finance both from the government as well as from the state government, the national government gives them some money, as well as the statute governments give them some money. So the money is not being utilized, and that is my concern, which can be utilized through the inclusion of development of internet.
So we are not yet reaching out to the other internet service providers in the villages. At least a way of enabling connectivity to come to the village council office, so that it can then get distributed in the villages or the Hamlets where connectivity can be welcome. It is a challenge, it can be available through this Internet development being included in the grant development plan, in our ‑‑ and the other thing I would like to mention is because in the article is based on the ‑‑ the department scenario. This is the cost that will come out of it only in the first year it is going to be expensive. Each development plan is valid for five years, so the first year is going to be expensive, but for the next three or four years, it's going to be only the cost the village council the village has to bear, not a lot of money.
This is the plan and hope flu I'm taking it forward through various agencies in India now and trying to bring this into the ‑‑ to be included in the village development plan. Yeah.
>> SENKA HADZIC: Thank you very much, Sarbani. And our next speaker Nic Bidwell. He has been working on community networks for over a decade, you believe, and she'll share a case study also in the book. Thanks, Nic. You are muted. Sorry.
>> NIC BIDWELL: Hopefully you can see my slides. Right.
Okay. So congratulations on another valuable book and a great panel, lovely to see everyone. So as Senka said, I don't know how to make the slides forward there we go. Over ten years ago I was visiting a village in Southeast Asian forest and the academic and activist hosting me said linking economic enterprise to the connectivity being restored had distracted from the original reason about getting connected which was defending the forest from logging.
That was around the time I started my journey, being involved in starting three in Africa and undertaking research in others, Asia and Latin America and throughout that, you've repeatedly seen the difficulties in reconciling funding models with environmental sustainability.
So today I'm going to be my usual provocative self and ask what do sustainable funding models encourage CN's to sustain and what if that model can help keep CN's alive. All that I've been to are affected by ex‑tracks, nearby there are mines, water diverted for hydroelectricity, villages produce charcoal, food and tourist experiences for remote markets. And the strategies to fund and promote the CN's tend to assume that ex‑tracks and market logics are inevitable. Whatever funding model they are funded but are assessed in relation to financial returns or risks, even for small projects.
CN's are modeled are businesses and promoted based on how that you contribute to growth in industry and commerce.
These assumptions shop the ways that the technologies and the technological work in CN's are used, evaluated and scaled. All are also in places which sustain their local commons, communities manage land for dwelling, gardening, grazing and access to water. They prevent agricultural monopolies, recycle and repair.
But the CN's often exclude the very activities that keep these commons alive. For instance, often they use technologies like Wi‑Fi in places that can't be accessed in the forest in the gardens or moving between kitchens and water.
The work to maintain a CN has many different activities, it's certain tops of technological labor is valued and monetized.
So we can say that, in fact, many funding models bind CN's in a story that contributes to climate crisis. How a bigger the better quantitative logic is used in assessing the impact and sustainability of CNs. The efficiency of scale inherently neglects, sustaining life is ‑‑ life is sustained within specific relations between humans and other living and nonliving beings, in particular places. But this bigger and better logic is part of a situation where the ICT sector currently constitute global emissions that are similar to the aviation industry. If trends continue, within the next eight years the missions of telecommunications companies alone will equal the aviation industry.
I'm optimistic. Let's think carefully about what sustainable funding sustains and imagine funding and technology models that would help prioritize the relations that sustain the network of life for the planet.
Some recent grant initiatives for CNs such as the APC illustrate how fund disbursement can are not scale. But accounting if CNs with diverse goals, operations and difficult to measure impacts, we can keep our eyes on the growing investments in the rural global cells as part of achieving net zero emissions, for instance, there are programs that invest in regenerative agricultural programs, and carbon sequestering in places that have the greatest impact on life and bio‑diversity. Think of the was technologies that help support CN life sustaining activities and the people that do them, whether it's conservation work, foresting or recycling. You look forward to the next speaker, thank you very much.
>> SENKA HADZIC: I think we will have just enough time for the next speaker. Paula Jose Lara from Article 19, Brazil. Please. The floor is yours.
>> PAULO JOSE LARA: Thanks for inviting me, congratulations to the panel. We are short on time, I will try to be quick. We just launched our note pads on community networks, five issues on workshops, planning, public policies, technical aspects of regulatory aspects as well. You'll leave my e‑mail here, we can send it over to you, I think there were great contributions from everyone, and I think one of the quick things I would like to address is every community network is different so that you have different aims in terms of their production, necessity and interest, right? So any model that we should be discussing should be flexible and not fixed because they serve for different purposes, depending on what community we are talking about.
You speak from the point of view of the Brazilian reality knowing a little bit of the amazing work that Mexico and Argentina also do. So it's important to realize that a model must be flexible and there might be ‑‑ mate night be functional to every community and every community network.
The most important thing that in my view is that any sort of funding and sustainable model must be connected to the real life of the territory. That means we spoke not much was spoke little about the community network being able to provide support for the work and production and labor and culture that the community has already been doing in the territory for years and years and years. I think that there's two ways of thinking about it, the external funding that we must fight for, which is public funding. We need public funding for the production of (?) for the production of information, this is one of the things that comes outside from the reality of the communities and the community network itself. The other is internal aspects. We have many solutions and many suggestions here presented in the panel. I would like to just address a few more.
So I think we should think in terms of providing a holistic sustainability, which means based on the social reality of the territory.
And then we have some aspects that should be addressed. One is culture. There's no possibility of developing and increasing the community without working with culture. Then this should be very much provided for the community networks. So we are talking about ‑‑ the digital possibilities in terms of organizing the real life, it's not equal to access to the internet or the systems integrated webs and so on. I think one of the most important things is to actually provide those communities with terms and realities that make them ‑‑ make them sustainable in terms of what they already do and what they produce materially, culturally and subjectively. I think we ran out of time. Do I have a couple more minutes? My e‑mail is available, a pleasure to talk to you, if you want to know more about the work we are doing, I make myself available for your contact.
>> SENKA HADZIC: Thank you. I'm really sorry, Paulo, that we had to cut your presentation short. I just asked in the chat if you could share the link to the publication you just presented.
So yeah, I see we don't have time for discussions and Q&A, but there's been some interesting discussions going on in the chat, and I believe that most questions were actually answered there. Why I saw that Marwan answered all the questions that were asked earlier, yeah, there's a discussion on blockchain going on. Yeah. We really need to wrap up. Thanks, everyone, for being here, thanks all the speakers, and everyone in the audience as well, I think we had a really interesting and diverse speaker lineup, and Luca is not with us, but yeah, big thanks to Luca for organizing, the key person behind the Dynamic Coalition, and yeah, also let's not forget the CTS team that worked hard behind the scenes to make this session happen. I think Walter is maybe here with us, and yeah, thank you all, and see you next year at the IGF.