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Winners of the 2018 EQUALS in Tech Awards. Image source:

Welcome to the 17th monthly round-up of developments impacting your local access networks.


IMPORTANT TO NOTE: APC and Rhizomatica have released a call to apply for the catalytic intervention grants aimed at supporting a more sustainable community network environment. The deadline for applications is 15 May 2019. Read more.

1. Events and conferences
  • “Community Networks and the Identity of African Innovation”, an interview with Nicola Bidwell as part of the Oxford University Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy’s Global Media and Policy Seminar Series, will be launched on 3 May on their YouTube channel here. Read more.  

  • Between 29 April and 3 May, the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) will have its 34th meeting in Lima, Peru. CITEL is the telecommunications regulation body for the Americas, and usually discusses topics related to telecommunications that affect or influence the capacity for community networks to operate. All the materials are available publicly on their website here.  

  • Access Now's RightsCon programme has been released, announcing the event taking place from 11 to 14 June in Tunis, and includes many sessions on community networks, detailed below. Read more.  

- Commonalities and differences in regulatory frameworks of community networks in Asia, by Digital Empowerment Foundation

- Community networks: Open cooperation space. From concept to action, by Fundação Getulio Vargas

- Community networks: How we build a truly free and open internet, by People's Open Network

- Widening the spectrum: How can radio spectrum regulation advance community networks, by Public Knowledge

- Data security: It ain't your fault, but it is your fight, by Detroit Community Technology Project/Our Data Bodies Project

- Making regulatory waves: A discussion on the need for collaborative spectrum management policy development, by ARTICLE 19

- Public access, local connectivity, libraries: How they can work together and democratize access to the internet, by IFLA.

Access Now’s policy is that regardless of where you are located, the price of the tickets should never prohibit attendance at RightsCon. Please write to them if that's the case here:

  • The Battlemesh v12 conference on wireless networks and open source software will be held from 8 to 14 July at "Le 6B", 6-10 Quai de Seine, 93200 Saint-Denis, France (very close to Paris). It will bring together people from across the globe who are interested in community networks, including wireless mesh network technologies, fibre infrastructure, do-it-yourself internet access providers, and more generally, how to create and maintain a thriving community of people involved in building their own networks. You can ask for travel assistance in the registration form. Read more.  

  • The call for applications for travel support to attend the 2019 Internet Governance Forum, #IGF2019 (Berlin, 25-29 November), will be open until 30 June 2019. The IGF is a global multistakeholder platform of the United Nations that facilitates the discussion of public policy issues pertaining to the internet. Read more.  

  • The EQUALS in Tech Awards is open for nominations, which will be accepted until 11 June 2019. The awards recognise innovative initiatives and projects promoting gender equality online and in the tech sector, in areas such as access, skills, leadership and research. If you want to nominate a project go here.  

  • [En español] Mujeres interesadas en participar de la Conferencia Latinity 2019 pueden optar por una beca que cubre los viáticos para la participación en el evento. Leer más.  

  • [En español] El Foro de Gobernanza de Internet para Latinoamérica y el Caribe tendrá lugar este año en La Paz, Bolivia, del 5 al 9 de agosto. Leer más.

  • The next Offline Camp will take place 2-5 August 2019. If you're excited about the #OfflineFirst approach to development/design, we want to see you there! Read more.

  • Applications for the IPFS Camp are now open for the first time ever! Builders of the Distributed Web will gather in Barcelona 27-30 June 2019 for three action-packed days of workshops (featuring brand new @ProtoSchool content!), hacking and deep dives. Read more here and here, and follow #IPFS #libp2p #Dweb. 

  • re:publica will be taking place 6-8 May 2019, in Berlin, Germany. Read more.

  • [En español] LACNIC 31, del 6 al 10 de mayo 2019, en Punta Cana, República Dominicana. Leer más

  • Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (STI Forum), 14-15 May 2019, New York, United States. Read more.  

  • Pacific ICT Days, 16-17 May 2019, Port Vila, Vanuatu. Read more

  • Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF), 16-17 May 2019, Stockholm, Sweden. Read more.  

  • Africa Internet Summit, 9-21 June 2019, Kampala, Uganda. Read more here and here.

2. Resources from past events
  • The 10th World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) featured the following sessions related to community networks: 

- Session 253 – Benefits of local connectivity initiatives for gender equity, social and economic development and viability of community networks as alternative to connect the unconnected. Watch here.

- Session 143 – Community Networks and Connecting the Last Billion. Watch here.   

- Session 220 – Connecting the Unconnected: Overview of Technologies to Reach Beyond Communication Barriers. Watch here.   

  • The “Connecting the unconnected” project team presented the initiative at the Internet Research Task Force regular meeting. Read the outcome notes of that meeting here.  

  • The IGF 2018 has released a report about the Best Practice Forum on Local Content, which highlights the relevance of prioritising local over international content, and features the Tusheti community network as an example, along with other interesting proposals. Read more.  

3. Gendering community networks
  • Lilian Achom from AfChix published a story about how a community network centre has helped the women in post-war Northern Uganda deal with some of the complexities of the situation. Read more

  • The ISOC International Women's Day webinar with practitioners of community networks is now online. Watch here.  

  • The IGF 2018 has released a report of their Best Practice Forum on Gender and Access, about the impact of supplementary models of connectivity in enabling meaningful internet access for women and gender non-binary persons. Read more.  

  • [En español] El Instituto de Género y Tecnología de Tactical Tech es un recurso que introduce una perspectiva holistica y feminista en las capacitaciones sobre privacidad y seguridad digital, usando su experiencia previa en organizar espacios para mujeres y activistas trans de todo el mundo. Leer más.  

  • Who is the in room today when technology is designed determines how society is being shaped and, in relation to coding, in general it is mostly men who are. Mary Ann Sieghart explores the hidden and disturbing consequences of not having women at the heart of tech in this podcast. Listen here.  

  • Taking stock: Data and evidence on gender equality in digital access, skills and leadership by EQUALS and UN University. Read more.  

  • A collection of cyberfeminist texts from 1990 to the present. Read more.  

  • Chris Conder from Broadband Access for the Rural North and Kira Allman from the Oxford Law Faculty shared an amazing interview with community stories, technical explanations and more. Watch here.  

  • [En español] Protocolos para una internet libre y segura, con una perspectiva de género. Leer más.  

4. Community networks in news and blogs
  • [En español] REDES publicó un informe sobre los resultados del espacio Techio Comunitario, una iniciativa educativa impulsada por diversas organizaciones de México. En el mismo comparten cómo la infraestructura comunitaria puede usarse para mejorar la vida de las comunidades, incluyendo radios, telefonía móvil y redes inalámbricas. Leer más.

  • As part of a content partnership with Global Voices, they have been featuring material from APC’s Local Access and Community Networks Newsletter for some time. Check out their brand new access newsletter! Read more

  • A curated playlist of videos about community networks and related topics for this month including how the internet works, it is time to rebuild the internet, an interview with B4RN Community Fibre's Chris Conder, among others. Listen here

  • Zenzeleni has been featured in this BBC interview, with more than 160,000 views! Watch here

  • [En español] Nuestared de Colombia se encuentra construyendo un mapa de redes comunitarias en Colombia y Latinoamérica. Ayudémoslos a que crezca llenando el siguiente formulario. Podrás ver el resultado en el siguiente enlace.  

  • What is rural co-op fibre broadband like? Testimonial: “Truestream is more than 400 times faster than speeds we were able to get with our previous Internet provider. And for 75% less money with no contract and unlimited everything!” Read more

  • [En español] AlterMundi ha estado contribuyendo con CONFENIAE en su proceso de acercamiento con las Redes Comunitarias en Ecuador. Leer más aquí y aquí

  • More information is available online than ever. Libraries are stepping in to make sure everyone can access it. Read more

  • Mandatory e-learning in high school could be a challenge in rural Ontario: "She tried to send in an assignment for her Grade 10 Careers and Civics summer course and the internet kept dropping out". Read more

  • [En español] ¿Cómo podemos conectar cientos de comunidades olvidadas por el estado y la iniciativa privada? Estas organizaciones tienen varias propuestas. Leer más

  • In Lebanon, the Internet Society chapter is supporting a community network initiative as a way of "creating a better internet for everyone". Read more

  • Rhizomatica has deployed a new community cellular network site at San Pedro Yaneri, Oaxaca, Mexico. Read more

  • Coolab and others organised a community networks gathering in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Read more

  • The Detroit Community Technology Project was highlighted in Rising Voices. Read more

  • Meeting and sharing with new people helps to foster new ideas. Crystal Gail Fraser joined us at the Indigenous Connectivity Summit to discuss how her community in Inuvik, Canada is connected to the internet. Read more

5. News on policy and regulation
  • In response to a public consultation on Kenya’s 2018-2023 National Broadband Strategy, APC joined Rhizomatica, the Internet Society, World Wide Web Foundation/Alliance for Affordable Internet, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa, Tunapanda Institute and KICTANet to submit the comments published here. Find out more about the process here

  • Uganda held a public consultation on the proposed review of the licensing framework for the telecommunications sector, and Rhizomatica, APC, CIPESA, AfChix and BOSCO contributed a submission highlighting the measures needed to unleash the potential of community networks. Read more

  • [En español] La Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económico (OCDE), que incluye 36 paises, presentó una revisión a la modificación del proyecto de ley de modernización TIC en Colombia, resaltando algunos puntos pero indicando graves fallas en otros. Leer más. El informe recomienda explícitamente la inclusión de las redes comunitarias para reducir la brecha digital. Este comunicado se suma a los varios comentarios de la sociedad civil al respecto, como los realizados por Fundación Karisma aquí. Lo positivo es que este proyecto de ley ha sido revertido, y esperamos que estos comentarios sean útiles para construir uno nuevo con mayor inclusión.

  • The 5G debate has been on for some time, with manufacturers and the telecom industry heavily pressuring governments for its adoption, but much more discussion is needed because of the multiple implications of its implementations. For a comprehensive article about these, read Peter Bloom's analysis here. And a more concise version that tackles how 5G is poorly suited to tackle the digital divide here

  • The Wireless Association of South Africa (WAPA) has also published an interesting article about 5G in a satirical tone. Read more. The A4AI agrees that focus should be put on areas other than 5G. Read more

  • [En español] En "La revolución 5G", Manuel Castells dice: La nueva revolución tecnológica se está convirtiendo en un campo de batalla geopolítico. Leer más.  

  • The Government of Kyrgyzstan, with the help of UNICEF, has obtained real-time mapping of all 2,137 public schools with their connectivity to the internet. Read more

  • The LINK Centre's Certificate in Telecommunications Policy, Regulation and Management (TPRM) equips participants with the professional development necessary to engage with the full range of policy and regulation matters currently at play in African national and regional ICT sectors. This year’s course begins on 8 July 2019. Read more

  • The Netherlands regulator forced operator VodafoneZiggo to publish their wholesale rates. Opening telecom data enables a healthier market for community networks and for the average consumer too. Read more

  • This video explains the implications of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to expand the Wi-Fi band into 6 GHz, and what it means in terms of the potential for more unlicensed bandwidth for community networks in the future. Watch here.

  • There is a 700 MHz spectrum auction coming up in Colombia. Read more

  • Upcoming consultation on 4G spectrum in India. Read more.  

  • Steve Song's "Spectrum Auctions Are Killing Competition And Failing Rural Access" makes the case for secondary use of spectrum for small operators and community networks. Read more.  

  • [En español] El regulador de telecomunicaciones de México, IFT, dará asesoría a indígenas para concesiones de radio y TV. Este es un muy buen ejemplo de cómo el regulador puede tener un trato diferente para diferentes tipos de ciudadanos/as, considerando a quienes se encuentran en zonas rurales. Leer más.   

  • What if governments invested in community networks and small ISPs to close the digital divide? Bolivia to be completely food independent in 2020 by investing in small farmers. Read more.  

  • The Government Accountability Office filed three recommendations to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to better promote tribal access to spectrum. Read more.  

  • The Ministry of Telecommunication of Somalia launched a consultation process for its Draft National ICT Policy & Strategy. The deadline is 31 May 2019. This introduces a great opportunity to make contributions that could lead to a more enabling framework for community networks. APC and Rhizomatica will make a written submission to this process. Reach out to us if you want to be part of it! Read more.   

  • The Summary of provisional findings and recommendations, Data Services Market Inquiry, from the Competition Commission South Africa, is an extremely informative document about the reasons leading to anti-poor pricing from the mobile network operators. Among other recommendations, it includes investing in alternative infrastructure, like community networks, to give people a choice. Comments for the final version are invited until 14 June 2019. Read more.  

6. Research
  • Does ICT generate economic growth? "There is evidence that Internet access contributes to growth in developing countries and that this effect might even be larger for productivity. However, these positive findings about Internet technology in the developing world are not robust across plausible MRA specifications. More research is needed to understand the effect of Internet technology on developing nations", by T. D. Stanley & others. Read more.   

  • A good piece on the digital divide in the US. It unpacks the over-simplified concept of the digital divide. Read more.   

  • BuenosAiresLibre has been one of the networks that allowed many practitioners to get into wireless hacking. This recent paper talks about it. Read more.   

7. Reports and publications
  • Internet access remains unaffordable for billions, says a study by the Alliance for Affordable Internet. Read more.  

  • For those of you that are interested in learning about spectrum management, the theory and how to support the regulation process, you should definitely check out the paper that the Internet Society just released about "Innovations in Spectrum Management”. Read more.  

  • A report from McKinsey explores India’s growth in the digital realm, although it reveals that still only 40% of the population has an internet subscription. Read more.    

  • How Much has developed a visualisation of the cost of mobile internet worldwide. Read more.  

  • Perhaps it is a good moment to look for an analogy between Monsanto and Facebook, between GMOs and Algorithmically Modified Data, but also to consider what a more organic internet could look like. Read more here and here

8. Articles on technologies related to local access networks
  • Facebook wants to circle Africa with an undersea data cable. Read more

  • The future of undersea internet cables: Are big tech companies forming a cartel? Read more

  • Cory Doctorow shares that public goods can pay dividends even thousands of years after they have been built. An example about the Roman empire road network. Read more

  • A curated list of ethical technological tools. Read more.

  • [En español] Una lista de aplicaciones que funcionan en redes offline a la que puedes contribuir, gentileza de Nuestrared de Colombia. Leer más.

  • Olimex is selling the first commercially available FreedomBox. In other words, they are selling the ability to democratise the internet. Read more.  

  • The P2P social network Manyverse has released a new version, with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi syncing, speed improvements and more. Read more

  • The open-source self-hosted web archive ArchiveBox Takes browser history, bookmarks, Pocket, Pinboard, saves HTML, JS, PDFs, media, etc. Read more

  • A very detailed talk answers the question, “How does the Internet work?”. Watch here

  • With support from Neighborly and Internet Society, Next Century Cities created a toolkit for communities starting (or working on) projects to improve connectivity. Read more.

9. Technological developments related to community networks
  • Learning Equality has received a WSIS 2019 prize for their Kolibri solution for offline education. Read more

  • New terminology Wi-Fi 4, Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6, to include new faster WiFi standard 802.11ax. Read more

  • NetFreedom Pioneers is using satellite one-way streaming to get to places were no internet is allowed. Read more

  • Great piece on the loss of digital archives and the role corporations play in it. Read more.

10. Funding opportunities
  • LEDGER empowers people to solve problems using decentralised technologies such as blockchain, peer to peer or distributed ledger technologies. It has launched its first call for applications, open until 30 April 2019. Read more

  • NGI_Trust will support initiatives related to privacy, artificial intelligence, decentralised internet infrastructure and developing means for individuals to make more informed decisions on the relevance of information that they are asked to disclose when accessing and using services. The deadline for applications to its first open call is 30 April 2019. Read more.

  • Until 1 May 2019, you can apply for the 2019 ISIF Asia grants and awards! USD 115,000 in funding is available for selected projects. Read more.  

  • [En español] Hasta el 15 de mayo de 2019 está abierta la convocatoria para el Programa FRIDA de financiamiento, que en este año se enfoca en redes comunitarias y en equidad de género. Leer más

  • The UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education will award two USD 50,000 grants to advance girls' and women's education. Applications will be accepted until 28 May 2019. Read more

  • Applications are being accepted until 30 May 2019 for the Edgeryders Internet of Humans Fellowship: What you would like to build, explore or learn about building a human-centric internet. Read more

  • Until 1 June 2019, the NLnet Foundation is inviting applications to its Next Generation Internet funding initiative, open to project proposals for the themes of "Privacy and Trust Enhancing Technology" and "Search and Discovery". Read more.  

  • The Shuttleworth Foundation offers fellowships to individuals to implement their innovative ideas for social change. They are most interested in exceptional ideas at the intersection between technology, knowledge and learning, with openness being the key requirement. The deadline for applications is 1 June 2019. Read more.

11. Contributors

We thank all the people that have shared content about and around community networks on Twitter for the newsletter this month:

@0x_4B1D @66bitchcraft @A4A_Internet @abismada_ @ABRADIG1 @adnwild @Agustiina @Aidazzles @AlcaldiaDigita1 @alecura @Ali_Christopher @ALTEClat @amaciel @amarcmexico @andrespiazza @andrestaltz @APC_News @apnic @articaonline @asociacionruav @avilarenata @A_Voulvouli @BarraconDigital @Beaton_b @BroadbandCensus @Bytemarks @C14OK @canay94 @Carlamtzg @Caruchy @catapul14 @cat_hannah_b @CatherineGvh @C___CS @ceciliavittar @CELEUP @CFKArgentina @CivicTechTO @clairelovescake @claucece @codebus_africa @communitynets @Connoropolous @couragefound @coyotegris @creativemorning @CreyM  @CSORG @cyberdoyle @dagelf @DanaRensi @dan_mi_sun @danyork @davrola @dcwalk_ @deblebrown @delRioG_Ana @derechosdigital @DHumano_UAM @dig2agig @donmeans @dospesosinc @dsearls @dzapatillas @EdisonLanza @EdwinRankin @EfrainFoglia @eggheadio @eldelacajita @elenaestavillo @EllaQuimica @Ellasarpong @ElviaVasc @EricNitschke @ErikGC7 @ernestovelasco @Espectro28GHz @EstebanMoralesV @evoespueblo @FelipeGdelC @fredy_rivera @FreedomBoxFndn @gcooplibre @genderites @GenderITorg @gestionpublicav @girish1729 @globalvoices @gnuradio @gretabyrum @grisglobal @hiperterminal @HoyenTelecom @IDRC_LAC @IFEXALC @internetsociety @intgovforum @ISOCapac @isoc_bolivia @ISOC_Foundation @isoc_france @isocghana @ISOC_LAC @ISOC_Live @ISOC_MiddleEast @ISOC_NA @ISOCUruguay @ITU_AMS @jadethuo @jake_albaugh @jane_coffin @jaromil @javiercobuelo @_joac @jossiemiliza @JournalistRebe3 @juanmnegretti @_justanotherdot @Karisma @KarlaVRamos @kdiga @kimsakocharadio @KiraAllmann @kleper @kolkman @LabardiniA @lacigf @lasdesistemas @LauBenedict @LearnEQ @leitomonk @leonardovalente @LibreTexts @lilicharo @LoomNepal @luciaflorossini @LuixSP @mabescorpio @MagangueNegocia @manyver_se @marie_alexb @Markeeeee @maxicarbajal @mebuell @medelotro @mekkaokereke @Melkizedek_ @michaelgraaf @microluciano @micronauta @mozilla @Mproductivas @MuralNetwork @myamy_vicy @nahuelhds @netCommonsEU @NextCentCit @nicoechaniz @nicopace @NiNanjira @noffle @nounproject @NuestraRedOrg @nullr0ute @nycmesh @OfflineCamp @OndaHostil @OxfordCSLS @OxfordMediaLaw @panayotis @paulacortereal @pdelboca @pdenapo @PotitiZas @programafrida @ProtoSchool @R3Dmx @RebeccaHeminway @redesac_mx @redescomunica @reydelhumo @rhizomatica @RichDecibels @rorys @ross_minty @rscooter369 @RTFMCelia @sachacristo1 @samcillabaakojr @sbellagamba @Sci_Hub @sfmnemonic @Snowden @soyisraelrosas @stevesong @stttff @surcooaxaca @sursiendo @tecnochamana @TeleGeography @tierra_comun @timelapseoflife @tin_nqn_ @tmarente @Tomar_LE @TunapandaOrg @uhernandez @valeriabet @_vics_ @video4change @whimful @wikileaks @wilsondanielg @wougnet @WSISprocess @zamoreando_ @zanettapp @zararah
12. Previous 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?” carried out by APC in partnership with Internet Society and Rhizomática, with support from Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in 2017/2018 and funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) in 2019. 

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April 2019. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)