IGF 2018 WS #428 Spectrum for Community Networks: A "Must" That Is Hard to Get

Subtheme(s): 

Organizer 1: Civil Society, African Group
Organizer 2: Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Sarbani Banerjee Belur, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Moctar Yedaly, Intergovernmental Organization, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Stephen Song, Technical Community, African Group
Speaker 4: Erick Huerta Velázquez, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 5: Anriette Esterhuysen, Civil Society, African Group

Spectrum is a resource that is needed to connect the unconnected and community networks (CNs) need to be able to use it to survive. This Roundtable will discuss the key policy and technical issues for community networks about opportunities and barriers to access to and use of spectrum, and proposals for change to drive CN sustainability.

There is a profound connectivity “gap” in many parts of the world, leaving over half the global population without Internet access —3.58 billion people currently have Internet access [add cite]. This connectivity “gap” exists in urban, rural, and remote unserved and underserved areas of many countries, particularly developing and least-developed countries.

The consequences of being unconnected are well documented. The IGF has played a critical role in highlighting these issues as both a convening forum and a forum that stimulates discourse, analysis through Connecting the Next Billion, and a neutral place to explore bridging gaps across communities. Internet access enables socio-economic development, and those without access are left behind, facing tremendous competitive and economic disadvantage. Better connectivity and the exchange of information strengthens democratic processes, spurs economic growth, and enables sharing of culture and ideas in ways previously unimaginable. Accordingly, the United Nations seeks, as part of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to “significantly increase access to information and communications technology” and “strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020.”

Community networks are local access networks developed by local communities, with local communities, for local communities. The people developing CNs are working with policymakers and regulators who, in turn, are enabling communities to connect via community-built network. Through common sense regulatory and policy change and dialogue with community network advocates, government can unleash the potential of community networks and allow unserved and underserved areas to realize the transformative benefits of having access to affordable connectivity.

One very critical policy and regulatory issue for community networks is the issue of access to and/or use of spectrum. Common barriers include spectrum scarcity, inefficient use of spectrum, and expense of spectrum access.

Innovations in spectrum management have enabled many communities in the most remote areas of the world to provide connectivity to themselves. However, they happen in isolation and most countries and stakeholders are not aware of them. This topic was brought to the attention of different stakeholders at the High-Level Policy Session of the WSIS Forum (output document page 203-205 of the WSIS output document) as well as during the 21st Commission on Science and Technology for Development. Additionally, throughout the year this topic has been discussed with national and regional regulatory authorities, such as CITEL and CRASA.

Format: 

Round Table - 60 Min

Interventions: 

Advance work with Roundtable Experts and IGF Community: (1) ISOC and APC will use a peer review from June-August to include roundtable participants in the development of the spectrum policy paper (2) Roundtable experts will meet with organizers and each other 2x in advance of the IGF to ensure that views and perspective are heard and better coordinated and (3) Roundtable organizers will be asked to prepare a “pre-IGF” blog, Instagram page/or other medium, about the Roundtable and preview the views/perspectives of participants.

National and Regional IGFs: We plan to use the LAC IGF, APRIGF, and USIGF through our joint extensive networks to drive debate and input into this topic prior to IGF.

Social Media: APC and ISOC will work with their extensive communities to drive discussion and questions for the panel, including creating a cadre of remote participants to participate in this session

Web presence: ISOC and APC will create a web presence where roundtable participants and IGF colleagues will have the opportunity to obtain background materials and other “food for thought”
--We plan to also try to gather as much video best-practices and audio (pod-casts) in advance of the main IGF in order to provide more background on CNs and the best practice that exist to highlight barriers and opportunities.
--We also will be using the input from the Roundtable to develop a report for the community and will post that and CN stories, podcasts, and videos on-line as well as sharing all materials (as appropriate) with the CN community, DC-3, and others.

Diversity: 

We are incorporating as many regions into our panel, gender balance, youth input/participation, and a mix of international organizations,
Speakers include: Moctar Yedaly (African Union), Sarbani Belur (India/female) Gram Marg/IEEE, Steve Song (WEOG/Male) - spectrum and CN expert, Erick Huerta - Redes Communica (Mexico/male), lawyer, advocate, and CN and community developer; Anriette Esterheysen (South Africa/Female) - CN development, and gender focus; Michuki Mwangi (Kenya/Male) technical expert and CN community developer, Evelyn Namara (Uganda/female) youth instigator/ISOC team; Mobile operator - TBD; Carlos Rey-Moreno - CN developer (Zenzeleni) and community and tech expert and advocate

A Spectrum Paper on Community Networks (August 2018), will form the backdrop for this roundtable. The Paper is in "process" now and will be final and published by 22 August. The objective of the paper is to explore spectrum issues for policy-makers as they relate to community networks, changing policies/regulations, and ensuring more transparency. The Roundtable Experts would explore the many facets of access to spectrum and ways that community networks can work with partners to remove barriers and connect more people to improve their lives. The Roundtable format has been chosen to facilitate a more interactive dialogue. The intended agenda of the Roundtable will be along these lines:

Steve Song will open the floor by introducing the results of “ISOC’s Spectrum Paper” which will be used as a basis for discussion and circulated with the other speakers well ahead of the event as it will be released by 22 August 2018. All of the Roundtable participants will have been involved in peer review of the paper as well as other experts in the field. If the session is accepted a link to the document will be included in the description of the session. 5-10 minutes

Next, each Roundtable speaker will have 2-3 minutes to comment on the position of the institution they represent on the results shared. 10 - 15 minutes

After that, the moderator will have questions ready for each of the speakers in relationship to how each organization will support, or not, specific elements of the results shared. Each speaker will have 2-3 minutes to answer. 15- - 20 minutes

Finally, colleagues in the room will be able to contribute to, and ask questions. Questions from the online participant will be also relayed to the presenters at this stage 15 – 30 minutes.

Note: APC and ISOC will have worked across their communities to socialize questions for this panel in advance through social media and a stand-alone web-site, and will work with Youth candidates/ambassadors to bring new perspective and dimension to a traditional telecom/access issue.

Discussion Facilitation: 

ISOC and APC have been testing out the Roundtable format at international events and with their communities. We have found that providing experts advance information and meeting with them in advance to go through the “run of show” will make Roundtable participants comfortable and more familiar with the format. We plan to know the views/issues of our participants well in-advance so that we can have a free-flowing discussion that is conversational versus uni-directional. We also will meet at least 2x as a team before the event in order to coordinate and collaborate well in advance.

Online Participation: 

Online Participation - Advance: APC and ISOC will work with their extensive communities to drive discussion and questions for the panel, including creating a cadre of remote participants to participate in this session and outreach to "youth" communities and ambassadors to ensure a variety of perspectives.

Advance Online Resource Availability: ISOC and APC will create a web presence where roundtable participants and IGF colleagues will have the opportunity to obtain background materials and other “food for thought”

If the session is streamed online, questions from the audience will be captured with a particular twitter tag, #spectrum4CN, that will be then brought to the attention of the speakers by the online moderator. The tag will also be shared in social media and in the introduction of the session. APC and ISOC also will re-stream the content of the panel through our team in ISOC’s NY Chapter, and work with the Dynamic Coalition for Community Connectivity to participate online or to record their remote community sessions (coordinating with NetCommons).

Session Time: 
Monday, 12 November, 2018 - 12:30 to 13:30
Room: 
Salle VII