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1. Get involved 
  • In 2015, the United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF)’s Best Practice Forum (BPF) on Gender investigated online abuse and gender-based violence [see the output report here], and in 2016 the BPF considered women’s meaningful access to the internet [see the output report here]. In 2017, the Gender BPF decided to delve deeper into access challenges with the aim of enabling a better and richer understanding of specific communities of women’s experiences with and needs pertaining to the internet. This is based on the understanding that women in different communities have specific needs and face different barriers when accessing the internet. These needs and barriers need to be better understood to enable informed policy making to address inequality in digital access. A survey has been created to receive inputs on the topic.

  • People's Open Network is organising a Build Your Own Internet Workshop. It will take place Saturday, 27 January 2018, 2-5 PM @ Omni Commons, 4799 Shattuck Ave, Oakland, CA. More info here.

2. Calls for grants
  • Microsoft’s Airband Initiative is welcoming applications for grants until 31 January 2018. You can read more about how to apply, who they fund, and the expected outcomes on the grant fund page. Read more. They have mentioned interest in community networks and would be open to funding non-profits as long as they have solid business/financial models.

3. Events and conferences
3.1 Upcoming events
  • Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) 101 will take place 17-23 March 2018 in London. Global Access to the Internet for All (GAIA) is looking for presenters for their session during IETF 101 (time-slot to be confirmed on either of these days: 19, 20 or 21 March) about community/local access networks, among other topics (internet exchange point development, research, and more). Please note that remote participation is available. If you are interested contact Jane Coffin at: before 15 February 2018, 2000 UTC.

3.2 Resources from past events
  • On 8-9 November 2017, the Internet Society (ISOC) organised the Indigenous Connectivity Summit in Santa Fe. The 1st-Mile Institute’s post-event web page for the Summit is online, with links to partners and a series of 23 short video clips of some of the participants. Read more.

  • The Net4D centre at the University of Cape Town has created a report on the session on community networks that took place during ICTD17 in Lahore, Pakistan. The meeting results of seven presentations from six countries are available here.

  • All the talks from Facebook’s Telecom Infra Project Summit 2017 are now online here.

  • The ISOC New York Chapter has made available the webcasts of community networking talks that took place on 3 January 2017, with a selection of talks from NYC Mesh and the Radical Networks Conference. Available here.

  • The Internet Governance Forum has published the videos of the different sessions held at the 2017 IGF. Community networks were discussed at the following sessions:

Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity.

Seed Alliance & gender inclusion: Towards greater female leadership in Internet.

DC on Connecting the Unconnected.

Gender and Access Best Practice Forum.

- How devices, content & innovative business models shape our digital future: creativity with purpose.

- Financing and building sustainable community networks - the Coolab experience.

- Policy and technology approaches for expanding broadband to rural and remote areas.

4. Community networks in news and blogs
  • ISOC’s Beyond the Net Grants programme awarded funds to four community networks in its November 2017 cycle:

- Honduras Chapter in partnership with Red De Desarrollo Sostenible: Comunidades Inteligentes.

- Tanzania Chapter: Piloting the use of TV White Space for Community Networks in Rural Tanzania.

- Kenya Chapter in partnership with Tunapanda Institute: TunapandaNET.

- Wireless Community Network, Greece: Community Network – Moving towards long term sustainability.

  • AlterMundi’s blog has been very active over the last month:

- Describing Nico Pace’s visit to Zenzeleni networks [In Spanish].

- Sharing an interview with a volunteer from a workers cooperative in Germany that gave technical support to the Klimacamp, a yearly demonstration/camp against the coal mines in Germany. This year they used LibreMesh to distribute internet around the camp.

- Defending “the right to co-create the internet”, drawing a parallel with people’s right to grow their own food on their own terms while also engaging, if they so decide, with global food chains [In Spanish].

5. Relevant articles on technologies related to local access networks
  • This website, while focused on entrepreneurship rather than community-owned networks, has some excellent practical advice and resources for anyone thinking about building a local network.

  • Steve Song released his analysis on “Africa Telecoms Infrastructure in 2017”.

6. Regulation
  • The Internet Society has published a policy brief on “Spectrum Approaches for Community Networks”.

  • Rhizomatica speaks to Global Voices about the current legal hurdles for its community network to gain regulatory exemption for spectrum licences [In Spanish and English].

  • Luca Belli in his “The scramble for data and the need for network self-determination” brings the net neutrality debate and the consequences of its repeal in the US into a more global South perspective, comparing zero-rated services to “the image of sixteenth-century conquistadores offering mirrors to Indios in exchange for gold.” He advocates, like others in the US, for community networks as a solution.

  • US-based: This article makes suggestions for regulatory reform, including the transparency of licence fees charged for use of public utility poles and partial use of such funds for broadband equity projects. The writer also explores the topic of law amendments for exemptions for ISPs prioritising non-profit organisations, community-owned networks and broadband providers in underserved areas. 

7. Reports and publications
7.1 Reports on community networks and local access initiatives
  • The outcome of this year’s Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity is already out. A book, edited by Luca Belli, with the title “Community Networks: the Internet by the People for the People”, is available here.

  • Much media attention is being drawn towards this recent Harvard research report which claims that community broadband prices in 23 out of 27 US markets are lower than their lowest priced competitors. The report is here: Talbot, David, Hessekiel, Kira, Kehl, Danielle. Community-Owned Fiber Networks: Value Leaders in America (January 2018). Responsive Communities. 

  • The 2017 edition of Global Information Society Watch, which focused on National and Regional Internet Governance Forum Initiatives (NRIs), featured a report on community networks: "Leveraging community networks to remedy exclusions in internet governance".

  • The netCommons project has released two related reports on the topic of "Governance Instruments and their Application to CNs", one produced in July 2017 [D1.3] and another in December 2017 [D1.4]. They discuss the outside organisational model as a "canvas", and the inside organisational and governance models of several community networks, as well as various organisational patterns and anti-patterns. These documents build on the results of a previous document that described existing CNs and their organisational framework [D1.2].

7.2 Academic publications on community networks
8. Software releases for community networks
  • There is a new release of the Cloudy community cloud software. The announcement with details is here.

9. Previous newsletter editions 
  • Previous editions of this newsletter are available here.


This newsletter is part of the project titled, “Local Access Networks: Can the unconnected connect themselves?” developed by APC in partnership with Internet Society and Rhizomática, with support from Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

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January 2018. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)