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IGF 2018 - Day 1 - Salle VII - DC Community Connectivity: When The Unconnected Build Connectivity (DC3)

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Paris, France, from 12 to 14 November 2018. 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. 

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    >> LUCA BELLI: Okay.  Good morning to everyone.  Can you hear me?  Okay.  So welcome to this annual meeting of the Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity.  I apologize for the room, first of all.  In UN buildings, there are either very microscopic rooms or huge rooms.  We had the microscopic one this time.  It's quite cozy so far.  I hope we will not have too many newcomers.  Otherwise, you will -- if you want, there are two chairs here and I am keeping one for Jane here. 

    Okay.  So first of all, a couple of words about what is this Coalition doing and why we are here.  We are -- we were born three years ago, actually almost four years ago, because the follow-up of a workshop, the first workshop that was organized on community networks in IGF 2010 -- sorry, 2015.  And there was a need to cooperate more, to try to work together to advance knowledge on community networks.  There are many people already that are working on this around the world, since more than 20 years, but there was no common point of synergy, of communication, of cooperation.  We created it with this coalition. 

    There's a couple of chairs here if you want. 

    So we have started doing research, organizing events, and doing intergovernance.  If intergovernance is the stakeholders coming together and defining common plans, common rules, common norms, common procedures, it is exactly what we are doing.  We have produced three valuable reports with stories, with examples, with models on community networks.  We have also produced the declaration, which is as an annex of this book, which is our annual report is the third.  And in particularly, I am particularly proud not only to say that this is the third book that we produced, but that finally we have a book with instructions on how to build community networks, on how to enjoy what I used to call network self-determination, which is the freedom to build network infrastructures as commons and to use it to enjoy your human rights.  This is something that everyone should have, and the common international human rights will afford you.  You should have the freedom to build your own network and to enjoy it and to use it to enjoy your human rights. 

    So I am particularly proud not only because this is an example of how people together can coordinate and produce things. 

    Actually, Felix, there is a chair here, I think. 

    I am very proud also because this Coalition has demonstrated people are creating partnerships.  It's a form of natural research.  This book this year is cosponsored by the ITU, which is the UN agency for telecoms and ICTs.  And the fact that we have managed to arouse the interest of the ITU in this, it's by itself a huge success.  It could not have been possible without the help, the time, the dedication of every person that has authored this book, the previous book, and dedicated time to advance the common interest for the people, by the people, and that not only on the DC3 list.  DC3 is a very good example of how things could be done.  I consider it as a virtual community network because it's really where people put together their effort, their synergy for the benefit the common good. 

    So I don't want to take too much time to all the community network heroes that are here that are going to explain to you their contributions.  I would like maybe first ask Jane to say a couple of words about how the ISOC has been supporting us and the initiatives we are developing together.  Then as we had some changes in the panelists, I would ask the panelists to introduce themselves because given the configuration of the room and the changes, I am not able to find them all, so it's better if you just -- can you just raise your hand now if you are a panelist so that I can identify you.  Okay.  Excellent.  Okay.  Perfect. 

    As we are a lot, and as the MAG keeps on cutting our time, I think this is -- they make also the room smaller.  (Laughter).  So there wills also -- so please, write [email protected] to complain, and please if to the main session on dynamic coalitions tomorrow -- I will not be there because I have another panel -- to complain and ask 90 minutes in a bigger room if possible. 

    Without further ado, let me give the floor to Jane, and thank you for all your help. 

    >> JANE COFFIN:  Sure.  I will be very, very brief.  There are some other people in this room.  Raul Echeberria is our Vice President from Global; Sebastian Bellagamba, who is running our CN campaign.  The Internet Society celebrated a partnership with the Digital Empowerment Foundation, our first community network work, two weeks ago in Delhi, and I think one of the things that both Osama Manzar, who is here, I believe, and Raj Singh, who is our Bureau peer director from Asia Pacific, would say this is for the community with the community by the community.  What ISOC is trying to do is work with partners, work with communities to support them.  We are not trying to speak for community networks but with.  As quoted on the back of the book, our CEO, Andrew Sullivan, who is just new, has said that the Internet is for everyone, which is our vision, and so everyone in this room and everyone around the world deserves connectivity.  And as said in other sessions, half the world is not connected, so we need to do something about that.  Community networks are a way to do that from the regulatory policy development perspectives.  Stay tuned for more.  It's a great partnership with Luca and others here.  Thank you for what you are doing because a lot of what you do is community work, and a lot of times people don't recognize what you do.  You spend a lot of your time and energy, sometimes money, in doing this.  If we can support you more in the future, that would be our intention, but I will stop now because you want to hear from everybody. 

    >> LUCA BELLI: Thank you.  Thank you very much for being brief and for respecting the quite short time that we have. 

    Before getting into the book, there's also -- I would like to ask Karla, with whom we have drafted this other, we can say, outcome of DC3, part of outcome, about this paper on how community networks are evolving in Latin America and that we are launching this week also with the support of ISOC, APC, FGV, so just if you could in a couple of minutes explain the work we have been doing so then we can dig into the book. 

    >> KARLA VELASCO: Thank you, Luca.  I will be very, very brief.  I want to thank you and ISOC for having this opportunity and present a bit of our paper on community networks in Latin America, challenges, regulations, and solutions.  As Luca said, it will be available in the next few weeks online, and mostly this paper shows how in the last years a number of community networks have appeared in the Latin America background.  Proving to be an alternative based on community activity for connecting the unconnected.  We talk about how governments have had difficulties in designing and implementing policies to connect the unconnected and how market agents have also failed on offering access to a substantial part of the world's population.  Moreover, this paper also highlights the regulatory elements and can optimize development as well as shared regulatory experiences which have allowed functioning and which have faced in Latin America.  Looking forward to the launch of this paper, and Luca, back to you. 

    >> LUCA BELLI: Just to add something, very importantly, I think what is meaningful in the paper is that we show that over the past 30 years the policies in a have been experimented have been shown to have limits.  They are maybe very good for urban areas with high-income people, but they simply do not work for the 50% of people that live not in urban areas or that have low income.  So community networks maybe are not a silver bullet, but they are a very good opportunity to be seized to try to bridge digital divides.  And how to do so?

    So for the first time, we have a book explaining how to do so, and we hope also to translate it in other languages.  The ITU also is interested in sponsoring the translation, so it's something that we can, of course, speak more later. 

    I would like to first start with Spencer, who has drafted a very good chapter with his colleagues, and I will let you explain details of this guide. 

    >> SPENCER SEVILLA: Thank you.  Hi.  Everyone.  My name is Spencer.  I am a research scientist at the University of Washington, and in this chapter of the book, it kind of talks about some work that we have been doing over the past year in building out small-scale community LTD networks.  So we spent the last year, essentially started with a somewhat functional open-source LTE stack, made it more functional, got it running as a network-in-a-box type of approach, paired it up with some hardware, and then went and partnered up with a community in Papua, and went out there for a couple months this summer, built it, set it up, turned it on.  Runs pretty well right now.  We've got about ten users, still a test batch, still ironing out some of the bugs.  Crashes, comes back, does okay.

    Let's see.  It's been really well received.  We have been getting constant add requests, can we add more users?  We are saying hang on, hang on, we are trying to fix this as fast as we can.  We've been bringing in about $600 a month right now just off of these users.  They are finding a lot of good value over it.  They are essentially running it, setting rates and doing maintenance themselves.  That's the kind of gist of it.  The chapter deals with all the questions of how to grab this stack, how to download it and get it up and running.  That's about it.  Not much to say on that, just a quick pitch. 

    >> LUCA BELLI: For keeping -- thank you for being very brief.  (Laughter).  I appreciate very much.  As we have a lot of speakers.  You did not need to be so brief, but thank you very much if you are concise.  Thank you very much. 

    And actually, this show that is there are a lot of different approaches, and it's very good to have new people.  There is a core of people that has over the past three years been participating in activities, but it's very good to have also fresh, new ideas coming in and oxygenating also the way we think. 

    So I would ask also for another new entry, Stavroula, to present to give a quick overview of what work they are doing with the MAZI Project.  Do you need presentation?  No.  Okay. 

    >> STAVROULA MAGLAVERA: I am Stavroula Maglavera, coming from Greece and University of Thessaly, who are the Coordinators of the MAZI project.  We created -- the MAZI Toolkit, which is included in the manual.  MAZI, let's start from that, it means together in the Greek language.  That is the reason of the name of our project and toolkit.  The toolkit we have created is based on open software, open hardware, and empowers people to create their own networks and be connected through very simple technology, and in order to communicate between them. 

    The motivation for MAZI is that people feel this technology, since they are not on the mainstream Internet, there are problems with data privacy, lack of social aspect, and the top-down approach.  This toolkit gives the opportunity to be engaged the other way around with a bottom-up approach. 

    We have been these last three years developing the toolkit.  And we have other projects, several pilots around the globe, using the MAZI Zone.  MAZI Zone is the whole staff.  That includes the guidelines, the infrastructure, and replication to be used by the MAZI Toolkit.  You can find much more detail in the manual or at our website. 

    We manage to have pilots in different areas.  There are already ten MAZI zones that they have been supported from the British Council, and they install their own MAZI Zone, and they are using it from their own Internet connectivity, and then internal communication.  We have installations in the Museum of Natural History in Berlin, and the federal government of Germany were so satisfied about using this for explaining the visitors how to enjoy the museum.  And of course, we have or MAZI zones that are installed in Greece, in Switzerland, in UK, in Germany, in several places.  They are using MAZI Zone for a change of wellcare and medical issues so they are dealing with that in their country. 

    So for further information or additional stuff you need here to further discuss it. 

    >> LUCA BELLI: Excellent.  Thank you very much, and thank you for pointing out you funded prior to also doing some installation and for example, in communities where you are installing, this really changes the lives of people.  People have to decide from being unemployed and be cut out of any opportunity in life, start to be connected, be entrepreneur, go to school.  That is beginning to be a change for people, especially youngsters. 

    Keeping on discussing how to create the community networks, I would like to ask Nicolas, who can maybe share -- you have -- Nicolas also brought toys to play.  So they have done an amazing project, also other friends and colleagues, how to build a router, not only your network, but also your router.  So without any further ado, please, Nico, explain to us how to do so. 

    >> NICOLAS ECHANIZ: Okay.  So in the current book, we talked about the process to build this thing.  The LibreRouter.  Which actually started from talks we had with some people in this room and out of this room.  It was initially funded by FRIDA, and it then got also got funding from Fire Africa.  And it's currently entering what we call Phase 2, which is supported by ISOC, and it was a long journey to get here.  What I brought here is the last prototype, which -- so this thing is the current version of the LibreRouter, which is a multiradio router that is specifically designed.  And the most important thing in this router is not just the hardware, which is important enough, but also the software stack.  What we tried to do with this solution, LibreRouter and the software that runs with this particular hardware is for people with no knowledge in networking to be able to deploy their own networks. 

    So the whole idea with this device is people should be able to just take a LibreRouter, mount it on a pole on top of the roof, and as long as they have visibility to another neighbor who is installing LibreRouter, then they will start meshing, and the village will connect from house to house. 

    So this project involves the hardware part, it also involves the software part, and also a documentation section because we found it was also lacking to have easy documentation for people with no specific knowledge on this particular problem. 

    So our documentation, it's also shown a bit in the book, helps not only with the technical stuff, but also with how to organize, how to start the network, how to divide the work, different approaches to sustainability.  So at this point in time, what we believe is the most important thing to do in the future, because we are having a lot of demand, the router is not yet available in mass production, we hope to have the first run next month.  But we already have more than 3,000 units that have been -- that communities have said they would like to buy.  They are not preordered because there is not a preorder system, but we have a survey, and communities said yeah, we want lots of these things. 

    So what we think is very important is to have a support system, and so the LibreRouter phase 2 is very much focused on this, on a support system that will help people not only communicate with a support team outside the community, but also to organize the support tasks inside the community because from the work we do on the ground, we have seen that this is very problematic usually.  For the people to organize how to take care of the different issues that they identify in the network. 

    So the idea is that this will bubble up.  Like if it cannot be solved locally, then it can be solved regionally, and if it cannot be solved regionally, then the external support will help.  Well, it needs to be short; right? 

    >> LUCA BELLI: Unfortunately, yes. 

    (Laughter)

    Just for those who are interested, in the book there are also a lot of references of what are the sites to download.  I have already uploaded the book, the free online version of the page of this.  Unfortunately, the IGF website is currently under attack, but I will tweet it.  Soon I will have connectivity because unfortunately I don't have it now, but I will put it in this afternoon or we will share it.  Everything will be online for free. 

    So now let's pass to the second segment of this book, which is how to make community networks sustainable, scalable, and compliant.  And then the last part will be about interactions with potential partners.  Muy-Cheng is here.  I don't know if Esmeralda is here.  Everyone who is here and has ideas for potential partnership will be very much welcome to speak. 

    Now I will have Roger, who is there.  Roger, who has been working for almost a decade or more with the Guifi.net organization, and he is our expert on sustainability and also together with (?) and decided to let Roger illustrate their work. 

    >> ROGER BAIG VINAS: Okay.  Thanks.  So we were asked to write a chapter about scalability.  Scalability is important, and maybe we were asked to do so because we come from a network that has tens of thousands of nodes, and we are not just doing wi-fi, but we are also doing fiber.  Right now it's 50/50 or so.  So half fiber, half wi-fi.  We started wi-fi like 13 years ago.  In 2009, we started with fiber, and we tried to improve if the same model or something similar could also work.  So again, the people were able to build their own network infrastructure using fiber.  It's possible. 

    So the chapter has a classical structure.  We have an introduction, where we discuss why scaling up, for us it's crucial.  Then we have a link into the full access, the main considerations for scaling up, which for us are social, legal, economic, and technological, plus it's very important the connection of all these four fields.  And finally, we had to look into the external support because it's also crucial to have good external support, and it concludes with the conclusions, obviously. 

    So we have an annex explaining what is Guifi.net because I think it's important to understand the context.  So why scaling up?  And the easy answer is the bigger, the stronger we are, and this is the main reason. 

    There are several main reasons.  We have identified them.  The first one is the joy of sharing.  I think this is something that we understand altogether here.  The second is economic sustainability.  It's important to become stainable from all the considerations, but especially economically (audio feedback) because in this context we are, it's something that is crucial.  And here we discuss how to reach the (?) point.  We have to at least if to a certain point to make this scalable, sustainable.  (Audio feedback)

    What is this?  My phone, yeah, sorry.  It's not mine.  It's not mine. 

    Self-protection.  Here, being more, we are able to specialize and get more in some areas and then contact the rest because we know we should also share this.  This is how we can reach and be more resilient.  The last is related to economy and efficiency.  Demand creates economies of scale.  This is very important, especially when we move from the very last mile into the last mile and then into the middle mile.  It's crucial. 

    Acknowledgments, we especially appreciate the work of this committee, chaired by Luca, and also in our case, the (?) because we received amazing comments.  It was great.  I think the quality improved significantly.  And then also thanks to ISOC.  I think it's important for what we have discussed to scale, to have global impact, and to have global impact we need organizations like ISOC and especially people like Jane Coffin.  And of course, with the support of Raul Echeberria, because we need support.  That's it, more or less here we are. 

    >> LUCA BELLI: Thank you very much.  And also very much to explain community networks are not only for small villages but can also scale, can be also implemented in major cities.  They are already implemented, and they are already scaling, and Guifi.net is a wonderful example of this.  Of course, as I was saying before, if we see this as a community network, we are scaling up, and we are all putting our little part to scale up, and I think this is very good to see. 

    Speaking about scalability and sustainability and how to federate community networks.  Where is Felix?  Surprise.  Felix has done an excellent job analyzing, and I will let him explain this very good example here in France. 

    >> FELIX TREGUER: Basically, my chapter deals with French Federation of Community Networks.  It's called FFDN.  It was born in 2011, and basically, it was a way an organization, coordinating various organizations around France doing community networking.  There are 34 organizations at the moment in various parts of France.  What's interesting with FFDN, basically all the member community networks are nonprofit and volunteer driven.  So much less provisionalized, for instance, than Guifi network is.  What's interesting is the Federation basically coordinates the work of 30-plus organizations that are very different in terms of, you know, their environment.  Some are set in urban or rural settings.  They can do radio, fiber.  Some have connectivity so they are part of the community network movement.  Basically the Federation has been key in bringing support, self-help, and mutual aid between various organizations.  They have coordinated various litigation actions emanating from the community networks, and they had several challenges, for instance, against civilian laws in France and are now moving to -- surveillance laws in France, and are moving now to existing infrastructures and deployment of their networks. 

    Also here, I don't want to focus on legal aspects, but basically, FFDN is one of the many examples and models which at the organizational level community networks can scale up, and I think it's an interesting model even for the international and transnational coordination of community networks because, you know, it unites very diverse organizations and basically as a standard document, a charter, enumerating the values of the communities.  But it's not much more than that.  Otherwise, it very much works in a flexible manner, and I think it can be a base for other coordinating efforts. 

    >> LUCA BELLI: Thank you very much.  Besides being feasible and scalable, can also be federated community networks, and this actually adds strength to the movement.  Also, your presentation is a good segue to ask Virginie to provide some inputs on how their guide, and how to be law compliant with regard to the European regulation.  That is -- some elements can also be an inspiration for other framework, of course, and also I think a very good idea is -- would be also to further develop this work to see how in other countries could be also supplied.  But please Virginie, go ahead. 

    >> VIRGINIE AUBREE: Thank you.  Good morning to you.  I come from the University of Trento, and I work for the netCommons project.  And in my spare time, I am also part of the community and work in France. 

    So yeah, today would like to talk about sustainability of (?) work.  We feel that in order to foster it, we have to introduce you to the main legal obligation of community networks.  Also, wanted to give concrete guidelines for community connectivity network in order to cope with these requirements while respecting fundamental rights, such as privacy and net neutrality.  So in order to do this, we focus on the legal framework so that it will be applicable to all community networks in Europe.  And we tried to cover three main topics:  Civil liability, data protection law, and data retention law, which a very thorny issue. 

    Also, we wanted to give a few tips regarding governance, especially -- yeah, the governance, but not only based on legal obligation, but also in reliance with experience and practices of other community networks because we rely on a survey that we did last year, and we ask a lot of community networks how they deal with different legal obligations. 

    And I think that will be all because we have to be quick.  Thank you very much for your attention. 

    >> LUCA BELLI: Thank you.  Felix also has something to complement. 

    >> FELIX TREGUER: Yeah, I mean, I am also part of the netCommons project, as several people around the table, and just to complement on what was said, a key aspect of community networks in terms of entering their legal sustainability is also to develop a capacity to influence the way policy is made.  And to that purpose, with netCommons and community networks in Europe, in partnership also, building on the efforts of other organizations, like the Coalition, of course, ISOC, we've started last year basically to -- we released an open letter basically making a list of demands in terms of the evolution of the telecom policy regulatory framework.  As the EU, the European Union, was engaging in a major overhaul of the telecom policy framework.  And that has paid off.  The law is still to be formally adopted, but the last compromise brings several improvements for community networks in terms of developing special regulations tailored for these initiatives in terms of releasing more spectrum, releasing also these organizations from administrative burdens that are legitimate when applied to major incumbent corporations, but not to our volunteer-driven initiatives. 

    All of this to say we are also following these new legal evolutions, put together policy guidelines for European policymakers in the telecom field, and that will be released sometime today.  I will circulate it on the mailing list.  We hope to translate these guidelines so community networks can appropriate this document and engage in dialogue with policymakers so the regulatory environment improves in the coming months and years. 

    Thanks. 

    >> LUCA BELLI: Yeah, and actually, that is a very good point that deserves to be reiterated.  The problem that community networks are sometimes -- do not find at all a regulatory framework that is adapted to them because they have never been considered by policymakers.  It's not a matter of bad faith.  Very frequently, a matter of ignorance.  But ignorance really in the literal sense of the word, ignoring the existence of something.  So we have seen that actually regulators may be very receptive when they start to dialogue with people developing community networks.  In Argentina, for example, a law has been adopted in August on how to allow community networks to be established, being regulated in Brazil, and the regulator has withdrawn the obligation to have a license for small operators, which is excellent, because it allows community networks to not have the same burden of big operators.  And that is very good, and it's very easy to implement.  And also regulators are quite keen on doing so as soon as they understand the benefits of community networks. 

    Now, let's go to the last segment before opening the floor.  There is Muy-Cheng, and maybe wants to say something or (audio interference) -- Muy-Cheng, about IFLA and his partners.  Muy-Cheng is from Bibliotheques Sans Frontieres, and they are developing an access toolkit for libraries.  We have been speaking over the past years about enhancing cooperation with the librarians community, which would be extraordinary beneficial both for community networks and for librarians.  So Muy-Cheng, if you want to say a couple of words about the work you are developing, please. 

    >> MUY-CHENG PEICH: Thank you very much for having us here, and I think Don would complete what I will say.  I am very honored to be here to represent the Offline Internet Consortium.  My name is Muy-Cheng.  I work as an education director at Libraries Without Borders, and we convened a small gathering in January 2018 to discuss the challenges of offering access to Internet and to high-quality and relevant digital content to populations around the world because we all strongly believed with the 20-odd organizations that were there that access to information is a fundamental human right, and it is the basis for democracy and the basis for democratic participation. 

    So together with other organizations, such as IFLA, the university that provides offline version of Wikipedia, or people like Learning Quality that built learning management system to provide access to educational content worldwide, we tried to find a way of collaborating in a better way because we are all developing software solutions that enable people around the world, regardless of the context, in developing countries, in indigenous communities, et cetera, to access digital content, educational, informational, recreational, et cetera.  But the thing is that most of these apps do not interoperate with each other because these are small organizations that try to build whatever is working for their context.  But most of these, when you don't have high technical level, you cannot really own them and install them in a way that is user friendly for nonexpert users.  And so what we are working at the moment is trying to develop a common level of services, sort of a platform onto which apps could plug into and interoperate.  So for instance, you could have a learning management system next to Wikipedia, next to a map that provides information for disaster-affected population, et cetera.  All of that would be interoperated onto hardware that could be anything that you guys in community networks are working with. 

    So the idea now is that we are working on this prototype, and we are more than ever looking for partners to really scale that and make sure that the solution is relevant to any context.  And so these are a few of the features that we are trying to implement onto this platform is optimized search so a user when he is searching for specific information can search across all apps in a single sign-on so the user does not need to have several logins and usernames to access all of the services.  Or simply incremental updates so whenever you have access to Internet you can update the content but when you don't, it works in a stand-alone way.  We are looking for partners who may be willing to work with us on the technical side because we are working on this prototype that should be released in the spring of 2019, and we are looking for partners that will help build the prototype and test it in the field because the idea is it can work anywhere.  I believe synergies with community networks are definitely very essential.  And we are also looking for people that can curate content because having the infrastructure is great, but having the relevant content for the relevant populations is actually what we are aiming for.  So please feel free to come to us and, Don, maybe you would want to add some things that I am talking about, the toolkit from IFLA, that you know much better than I. 

    >> LUCA BELLI: While Don goes to mic, I want to say of course this kind of synergy of cooperation could be neutral.  I mean, that people who are developing community networks would be super interested in having more access to knowledge.  But also what could be interesting is to share in the network of librarians instructions on how to build community networks so we try to create a sort of virtual circle where people have access to more knowledge, they have access on how to create -- please, Don, go ahead. 

    >> Thank you, Luca.  Thank you, Jane, and everybody.  I will be the first one to second that you need a bigger room. 

    (Laughter)

    We have MAG representatives here, so they are hearing it. 

    I represent today, I guess I would say, the Partnership for Public Access, and this is defined as a strategy to integrate three approaches that we think should be able to accommodate anyone anywhere, even the farthest places, as Muy-Cheng has just identified.  So this offline Internet, which some people struggle with the concept, but I think Muy-Cheng just explained it very well.  Also, community networks, which doesn't need explaining here.  And public access facilities, hubs -- libraries -- where people can actually go and get help, which is essential to most people as new users.  And how these three approaches support each other and reinforce each other and offer some kind of a solution to almost any circumstance. 

    The thing I would add about community networks that we have been working on, particularly as it relates to the use of TV white space, either to reach public access centers, libraries, or through them, if they have back halls, then to extend that connectivity out into the community to public access points.

    Specifically for community networks, I would add an application or use case.  And you make point it's not just about unconnected villages.  Cities, there are many people not connected in the cities.  So we are looking at the use case as a redundant network sitting on top of a community that already has some level of connectivity, principally for redundancy, for increased resilience against disaster.  If you have a backup network, you are more resilient when the proverbial goes down, and we are calling these second nets.  So we understand about first responder communications.  Well, these facilities, schools, libraries, et cetera, play roles as second responders in disaster-scale events, so the community network topology, I guess we would say, would be direct wireless connections between these facilities that could operate ad hoc if need be and provide tremendous value in those circumstances to help change the conversation from nice to have, advantages, access to healthcare information, so forth, to critical information in times of intense need. 

    So we are happy to be part of the community networks' network, and to be here, and thank you for the time. 

    >> LUCA BELLI: Thank you for this, Don.  Now, we have been wonderful in time management, so we have 12 minutes to open the floor and discuss.  So please, before I open the floor, do authors have a copy of this -- all the authors of this book in this room have a copy of this?  Okay.  So we will give one to Roger.  And one as a gift to Glenn.  And to Virginie.  And there is one left, so I will leave one there in the center, and you will be able to fight for it.  

    (Laughter)

    Sorry? 

    >> (Off microphone)

    >> LUCA BELLI: Okay.  Before we open the fight, which may very well be the best part of the session, I will open the floor for everyone to have questions and remarks.  So if you have any questions or remarks.  So first here, then two, three, and four.  And five.  Okay.  Five. 

    >> AUDIENCE: Thanks so much.  I am from ISOC.  Thanks to this network, I met with the community and IGF at Guadalajara and got inspired.  Today we are implementing two projects.  One is community network in a very remote, mountainous village, which is really cut off from civilization during the wintertime because of the snow.  But it's a very touristy place, so hopefully soon they will have a real fiber optic network inside the village. 

    And the second is a project called (?) translated as spring of knowledge.  We want to bring Internet to libraries and schools in villages which have no Internet at the moment.  So the content in local language, like Wikipedia or others, we download into hard disk and connect it to some device and bring it to the villages and libraries, hoping that we will turn libraries into community centers again, so the villages could come and use the content.  So would be really happy to cooperate with all the partners here and to -- of course, there are many challenges that we are learning, and we would like not to repeat same mistakes, and also later on we would like to share our experience.  Thank you. 

    >> LUCA BELLI: Excellent, and very good to see also the work we are doing is inspiring also other people.  I really encourage you to speak with all the people here after the session. 

    I will not be able to stay here until the last minute because I have another session starting right one minute before -- after, sorry -- so Jane will wrap up again, but then now I will let the gentleman there have his questions and then the others. 

    >> AUDIENCE: I have three questions.  How many users can be connected to this router, and what's the difference between community networks and wi-fi networks we have?  Can we? 

    >> LUCA BELLI: You have very extensive questions.  Let's say that there are -- I mean, community networks are also wi-fi network, can be wi-fi network.  Limit of users is up to how much you manage to scale.  Guifi.net has 90,000 users.  There's a lot of information you can find both in this Bock and also previous two books that we have released.  They are all for free.  And they are only some of the resources, of course.  Unless someone has a very quick reply to those questions, these are quite extensive, I will get -- I hope you will forget me -- forgive me, sorry, not forget -- if I go to the next question.  Okay. 

    >> You can approach the rest of the people during IGF, I think, or just outside here and later to speak more about this. 

    >> This is my first time; therefore, I ask many questions. 

    >> LUCA BELLI: No problem.  You are more than welcome.  It's wonderful that you have these kind of questions.  And fortunately, you will find a lot of answers here.  It's only a question of time.  It's not lack of will to reply. 

    Question there? 

    >> AUDIENCE:  Good morning.  I am a MAG member, but don't kill me.  Six months ago we didn't have a venue, so we are actually quite fortunate to have this venue, although it's not ideal.  Next year will be better, I believe. 

    My issue is not really an issue.  I think one of our challenges is definitely the regulator.  I work and live in Africa, and you know, it's not a technology issue.  It's getting the regulators that are often ignorant to understand what community networks can do to enable us to connect the last billions.  So what can we do to get that voice that will enable the regulators to actually listen to us when you've got other voices that are pushing other agendas which don't necessarily work in the same objectives that we are trying to achieve here, like the big mobile operators, GMSA, and the ITU, et cetera. 

    Thank you. 

    >> LUCA BELLI: Does anyone want to reply?  I can start a reply by saying that if you already have research showing that things are feasible and regulation can be adapted for community networks, it's a very good start.  But I think Roger has already another reply. 

    >> ROGER BAIG VINAS: Just a comment.  When we talk about connecting the next billions, we have to learn from something, and it's connecting both (?).  If we marginalize ourself to those areas that are not profitable for the commercial solutions, this is a mistake.  We will not reach this point we were discussing before that we will then be able to scale up.  This is important when talking also to the regulator and not to deliver the message that this is just for the commercials to deploy their networks.  For me it is wrong. 

    >> (Off microphone)

    >> In this room, there is a section on spectrum right after this one. 

    >> AUDIENCE:  I am from India.  Just a broad, general idea and a question.  A lot of work has been done on community networks, but so far the majority of instances, the scale of the community network has been small to medium.  Having done so much work, is it possible that the community pays attention to building large-scale community networks probably with connectivity from Internet service provider, tier 1 connectivity, and make large national or regional community network, make a huge operation with community network pricing model.  That would be very, very beneficial, not only aiming at the unconnected, but also aiming at the connected. 

    Thank you. 

    >> LUCA BELLI: I think it's -- (?) and Roger have very good answers to your questions, and also you will find them in this book.  Thank you very much for your time, and I have to run now, so I will let Jane wrap up. 

    >> JANE COFFIN:  Go ahead, Alejandro. 

    >> Just a quick comment.  Yeah, the size and scalability is the topic of our chapter.  I can give you a quick example of our experience.  About five years ago, Guifi.net had more (?) wi-fi stations about 500 kilometers in diameter.  So density was very higher than any other mobile operator.  And in terms of the ecosystem, yeah, there are multiple connections to the Internet.  It was in a study we did along the different companies and communities and universities connected to the Internet in Spain, it was among the best in quality.  And in terms of companies, there are about probably more than 20 companies which are operating on top of commons, on the commons infrastructure.  They are contributing to the cost.  And for instance, one of the biggest ones of the let's say commercial operators using or participating in the Guifi.net infrastructure has about 10,000 users in a small area.  So it's a kind of healthy and big ecosystem. 

    >> JANE COFFIN:  And there are many people here who can help you with this later.  So I am going to turn Raul for literally 30 seconds and be brief and shift the room over.  We have to go quickly.  You have 30 seconds. 

    >> Thank you.  That's more than I need.  Mine is a very short comment.  The issue of resilience that the network has, physical disasters, but I also want to point out that it can also be resilient against policy disasters, like censorship.  That's all. 

    >> I just want to mention when we talk about regulation that we are having some interesting advances in regulation.  What we haven't been able yet is to have the regulators find a way to channel funds from the Universal Service Funds to community networks.  There are, I think, no examples.  No?  Not that I know of.  The community networks special interest group from ISOC, we are talking about this as a special issue. 

    >> JANE COFFIN:  Thank you very much, everyone, and we would like to note that the Director of the Argentine regulatory body just came in, and he is going to be on our panel, so he is a great example of someone that's actually working to change laws and regulations in his own country. 

    So I just would like to say Luca asked me to ask every single speaker who spoke earlier -- not the question-and-answer part, but the speakers -- you need to send him one sentence, a message about what you said.  We have to report back in 12 hours.  It's quite -- it's a lot of good work being done here, and IGF wants us to turn this around quickly.  But bottom line is thank you to everyone for what you are doing.  You are helping connect people who aren't connected from the village or the community out.  This is rural, remote, and underserved, which includes urban. 

    So thank you very much.  We are going to switch over the panels, and have a good afternoon.  Spectrum is up next.

Contact Information

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