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Turning best practice into capacity building for community networks development

Image: net4all team from left to right: Roger Pueyo, Laia Sucarrats, Roger Baig, Ramon Roca and Leandro Navarro.

Beyond the Net Journal: Spain Catalonia Chapter #1 Episode

The purpose of net4all – Net for All – is to develop a set of capacity building materials for training people in the different aspects of development and sustainability in community networking infrastructures using technologies such as wifi and fibre. Particular attention will be focused on the needs of under-served communities and developing regions.

While producing these materials, net4all will benefit from the ten years experience of Guifi.net , a free and neutral crowdsourced network based on a commons model, currently accounting for more than 30.000 working nodes. In 2015, Guifi received the European Commission Broadband Award for its innovative model of financing business and investment.

I asked Roger Baig, computer science engineer and net4all researcher, to help us understand how they are capturing the “lesson learned” by a local project to enhance the community networks of the future Internet.

Which solutions will the project provide and how will they be implemented?

The innovative aspect of this proposal is using the international knowledge gathered by Guifi.net to deliver a comprehensive capacity building kit. net4all is following an incremental and iterative methodology, combining the production phases with on-site seminars. In the seminars, we will present the outcomes of the production phases to date and gather input for the following ones. The training materials will be shared publicly, allowing others to learn from our process of building infrastructure, and creating the right conditions to make them self-sustainable.

The project, coordinated by the Internet Society Catalonia Chapter, is divided in two one-year phases. The first phase, which is currently funded by Beyond the Net, comprises:

  • 9 months of materials development (documents, slides, videos, training materials, and brochures)
  • On-site seminar in South Africa, in collaboration with the project “Upgrading Zenzeleni Networks in Mankosi” – also funded by Beyond the Net
  • Second round of materials development taken from the seminar experience.

What motivated your Chapter to take this initiative?

We feel it’s important to review what Guifi.net has done, and collaborate with a successful local initiative. Through this exercise, we expect to identify the success factors and to share them afterwards, but also to explore new challenges and opportunities for the future. The ultimate goal of net4all is to contribute to the replicability of a successful project.

How is this project a great opportunity?

The support of Internet Society allows us to promote the Guifi.net experience worldwide. Community networks empower people to extend the Internet and they can play a key role in reducing the digital divide. Success stories such as Guifi.net demonstrate they can be sustainable and compete on prices and services with the traditional telecoms, as well as positively effecting the local labor market and users’ sovereignty.

How will the project contribute to Internet Society’s mission?

The Internet Society’s mission is to “to promote the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world”. Community networks are an emerging model for extending the Internet outside the dominant market logic which has led to the current digital exclusion. Proper documentation of success stories like guifi.net is a key element in enabling people to successfully undertake their own projects.

How can people engage with your Chapter and learn more about the project?

Through the Chapter’s website and its mailing list.

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We are interested in your project

We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $ 30.000 USD.

Applications are Now Open.

Find our more about the programme