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Community Networks

Community Networking Workshop in Kenya

What We Do

Connecting the unconnected.

We are committed to network development and deployment around the world. We have seen great changes through small projects and through communities of interest. We help train, provide funding, and build communities to sustain Internet networks. We partner with people and sponsor what they do!

People are at the heart of building, maintaining, and sustaining networks. People train people and provide support to each other. Read about the local heroes who are helping build sustainable networks to develop connectivity.

What They Are

Community networks, communications infrastructure deployed and operated by citizens to meet their own communication needs, are being increasingly proposed as a solution to connect the unconnected. In some regions, community networks use WiFi mesh technology. In other regions, they are simple 2G Voice over IP (VoIP) solutions. In many regions, little is known about the role community networks are playing or what they are. We hope that the information below and on this site provides you with more insight and examples of how you may be able to shape a new future in your country. For more on this topic, see this new report by Carlos Rey-Moreno, Supporting the Creation and Scalability of Affordable Access Solutions: Understanding Community Networks in Africa.

Why We Do It

Over 3.5 billion people are unconnected in rural, remote, and under-served communities around the globe. Community networks offer local solutions to fill connectivity gaps, bringing communities together to provide locally viable connectivity solutions. They also drive implementation of new technologies and innovative solutions. Community networks encourage policy-makers and regulators to examine new ways and means to fill local digital divides.

Partners & Projects We Support

Here are some of the amazing community networking projects and partners we work with around the world that connect communities. We support them through direct project funding, small fellowships, grants, and joint training events. Our mantra is For the Community, With the Community, By the Community. See the map of the countries we are currently working in or supporting projects in!

APC has been involved in community networks around the world for over a decade, and are key partners.

COMSATS Internet Services
Internet Society has partnered with COMSATS Internet Services to connect a rural community near Multan city, in the Punjab province. The project includes deployment of a wireless network together with training for the community that will enable users to access the benefits of the Internet, providing them with opportunities for social development and inclusion. You can read more about the project here

Digital Empowerment Foundation
India DEF and the Internet Society created the Wireless Communities Project (W4C) nearly eight years ago. What was once a "back of the napkin" idea turned into real projects in India led by the excellent team of experts and partners at DEF and in partner locations. Check out our APAC team website for more information.

Guerrero, Mexico
See this video – narrated by our Mexican Chapter President, Luis Martinez – about the impact community networks have had in Guerrero, Mexico is a bottom-up, citizenship-driven technological, social, and economic project with the objective of creating a free, open and neutral telecommunications network based on a commons model.

ICTP has worked with us on network training and installation as well as new tools for network development. Marco Zennaro and Ermanno Pietrosemoli recently helped with training, a hands-on lab, and installation for Tunapanda in Nairobi, Kenya in May.

Nepal Wireless Project
Nepal Wireless Project is a non-profit initiative located in the remote rural areas of Nepal.  It was started in 2002 to bring communication services to the villages of the Myagdi district and to find ways to bridge the digital divide between the urban and rural areas of Nepal.

Some projects are in urban under-served areas of developed countries. Read more about this project led by some of our NY Chapter members and also supported through our Beyond the Net Grant Programme.

Rhizomatica began in 2009 as a quest to make alternative telecommunications infrastructure possible for people around the world dealing with oppressive regimes, the threat of natural disaster, or the reality of living in a place deemed too poor or too isolated to cover. The Internet Society supports their efforts in Central and South America to develop networks to connect more people in Mexico, and Central and South America.

SF-Bay Area Chapter's project,"Bridging California’s Rural/Urban Digital Divide with Mobile Broadband", is collecting data on mobile broadband performance in rural areas and comparing that performance to what mobile providers are claiming they’re delivering. Data collected will help drive policy to get rural areas more affordable, robust and reliable access, which is crucial for AgTech solutions and for driving the rural economy.

Zenzeleni is an emerging umbrella body of community telecoms organisations, inspired and led by Zenzeleni Networks Mankosi, the first telecoms co-op. The team at Zenzeleni has come up with community-driven efforts to connect people in the Eastern Cape. They also have shared their expertise at training activities and assisted the Internet Society with a new report called Supporting the Creation and Scalability of Affordable Access Solutions: Understanding Community Networks in Africa.


Inforum Course: Introduction to Network Operations
This introductory online course is targeted at novice/entry level UNIX/Linux users pursuing careers in Network or System Administration.

See this link for more details about the online training.

Wireless Networking In The Developing World (WNDW)
WNDW is a free book about designing, implementing, and maintaining low-cost wireless networks.

See this link for more articles, books, and other data on Community Networks.

Blog Posts

Read more about community network efforts around the globe and some of the projects we support.