Welcome to the community for Community Networks

This is a community for anyone interested in locally-owned internet and telecommunications networks. This includes community networks, cooperatives, and small-scale commercial operators. It is a place where members can help each other solves challenges ranging from technology to regulation to sustainability and beyond.

  • If you’re building a community network or a small local ISP or just thinking about, this is the place for you.
  • If you need help with challenges you are struggling to overcome in building your community network, this is the place for you.
  • If you have years of experience in network and community development and are willing to share what you know, this is the place for you.
  • If you’re interesting in changing the paradigm of how communication networks are owned and operates, this is the place for you.
  • If you are interested in networks serving people and respecting their autonomy, agency, and culture as opposed to the other way round, this is the place for you.

Welcome!

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Definitely love this community and hope to have a great experience.

Fred Kwadwo Aazore.

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This is a key. Local ownership is the best, easiest way to avoid exploitation - and to ensure that the service or thing or change that you want to see, really is fit for purpose. But it takes a lot of time.

If you try to do something from outside, without a very clear invitation by everyone, you are creating a dependency - DON’T DO THAT! Be very suspicious of people who do. Even if people are dependent on your knowledge, work to share as much of it as possible in a way that it can spread without you. You can’t be everything for everyone, but you can be careful and aware.

Rather help to create an environment where people close to the issue can work on it for themselves. Try to promote as much independence as possible.

We are all interdependent, so it does go both ways, but make sure that the flows are equitable. If you’re not sure, ask. Always ask. Ask permission for everything, and give enough time for everybody to find out and share their opinion, before you give anyone anything that will alter the balance of power in their situation.

Something that is small to you might be life changing to someone else, and they might use it to do things that they might not otherwise have been able to do, or ready to do, or that might really upset their community… If you don’t want to be sorry, before you do anything, look twice and listen three times.

@dagelf - very true, and that leads to the important question of how do you allow for that process but still scale it, given that the necessary process you describe above tends to consume a huge amount of the scarce time of the few knowledgeable people ?

Is the very level of support needed for such a process, the gating factor that results in relatively few CNs.

For example - I see the simplification of the install process in Nico’s Libre Router as a hugely positive step in reducing that time-overhead as part of a potential solution to allow the process to scale while maintaining local control.

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Just because it may not be achievable doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try :smiley: We should always keep this in our minds and ask the questions to ourselves, I think. When we stop asking the questions is when we stop paying attention and we need to keep striving to be better, always.

Yes! This is great! But it’s not enough… if we are not careful it can become a dependency, always strive to have more suppliers, more devices, and more compatibility and simpler, more inclusive and more fit for purpose processes.

Librerouter project in particular is a good one to study. It builds on top of a lot of work done by hundreds, if not thousands of people - but that work would not have been useful to us if it was not for the relentless and dedicated efforts by just 3 or 4 people.

People who study the history of GPL, GNU C, Linux, Linksys WRT and OpenWRT, the IEEE 802.11 working group, the origin of the Wi-Fi standard, the ITU licensing recommendations, Mesh Potato, and more, will get a good glimpse of how delicate the balance is, and how it was almost by luck, and definitely by a healthy amount of grace, that we have access to some of the things that we have today.

Increasing availability of financial data must be effectively used to drive innovations that help close the gender gaps and address the barriers that prevent the poor from benefiting from financial services. Our project must seek to catalyze new data-driven financial services solutions that will have a positive impact on the poor.
To expand our communication platform that support sustainable agriculture and thriving agribusiness through research and technology development, effective extension and other Internet services to farmers, processors and traders for improved livelihood. Implement the E-Agriculture Programme which is an ICT initiative that will be through the National Agriculture Productivity Programme (NAPP) with funds from valuable donors and The Togo Government.

Enable liveliness access in rural and marginalised areas as well as promote environmental sustainability as a lifestyle and a business process across all target audience (Agriculture, education, trading etc) and the challenges for people in rural of Africa to access information and technology online in a reliable manner. Almost, 95% of Africans struggle with knowledge and literacy on how to use resources online. we have to share ideas and recommendations that we hope would help as we think of strategies to improve their awareness and improve their access to relevant information online in regards to rural communities farming business and their rights.

Whoa there! Those words might work on some people, but I don’t think they will work on your target audience. I think it is super important to explain it simply, and explain why, and to try and focus on one thing at a time, and to ask yourself: Who am I speaking to? What do I need from them? What will they want in return? Who else will be affected by this… and to speak to everyone in a language that they can understand, and to ask them to repeat it back to you so you can be sure that they understand it and that you mean the same thing.

For example: what do you mean by “financial data” - is it a better understanding of what things cost and what a fair market price for something is? What thing? Network equipment? Support? Training? Events? Travel? Funding budgets?

Also, a gender gap is a symptom of other things. What are those things - and why is it important to address those?

I can tell you from my experience, that the biggest problem is “forcing a level of financial and administrative literacy” on those who funds are meant for - who are usually very low on literacy, which is why the need it in the first place - for example, “here is a $1000 grant” - but you can only have it if you give us receipts for everything, and you are only allowed to spend money on x - but almost always, for the person to be able to obtain x, they also need to spend on y, and they are unable to obtain funding or support for y. For example, x might be equipment and y might be transport. Or x might be transport and y might be expertise. Also, only someone who understand how receipts work or what they are, or how to generate them, can actually use this money - so usually the “innovation” that is necessary here, is a mediator who can do the “paperwork and admin” for the person whom the money is meant for. Or some sort of “app”, “wallet” or “payment mechanism” that does this automatically. The mainstream term for these innovations is “Proof of impact”.

Which, explained simply, means: the paperwork will be automated, or done by someone else, and the burden will not be put as a barrier for the person whom the fund is supposed to benefit.

The big problem here, though, is that if that paperwork is done by someone else, often it is that someone else taking most of the money, or benefitting themselves, instead of what they say that the money is used for, because they know how to make the paperwork and how to manipulate it in their own favor instead of that of that the supposed outcome will be. This results in an “NGO” ecosystem where people are just paid for “research” or for “paid for writing reports” - instead of for doing the work that was supposed to get done. The “NGO work” is not done, but what is done instead is “someone is paying for someone else to write a reports about what was supposed to get done” - and often the report is not accurate, and/or the results are difficult to verify. Someone is only paid because they know some words that make it seem like they know what they are talking about, but nothing happens on the ground. (Fun fact: this was the original purpose of VAT - value added tax - and VAT Exempt goods - to incentivise manufacturing or making of goods, so that everyone wouldn’t become lawyers and teachers while nobody farm or produce goods.)

This is a big trap in my opinion. You must choose what you want to do: Do you want to build networks (“digital roads”) so that the other benefits have a reliable road? Or do you want to specialize in using the roads that others have built, in order to transport useful things on them?

If you want to build the network, focus on just that, and leave the use of the network to others. If you want to focus on the use of the network, then you must partner with someone who can build a good network.

Either way, you will need funding, but your outcomes will be very different. Remeber, that there are companies with 1000s of employees, and that company only does one thing: build networks. If you as a lone person wants to build networks, and buid apps or research innovations on how to use the networks better, you are setting yourself up for failure. You can only do one thing and you need to partner with people for the other things. And everything needs to get funded proportionally by the right parts of the right ecosystem.

I think it is important to explain why and how, and what part you will be responsible for, and what parts other groups will need to do. Remember, you can’t do everything - and you need experts in the other things to help - and you must verify their credentials and their ability to help - otherwise it will fail and it will just make your work more difficult. You must look at places that have gotten it right, and compare what parts you need to get right, or what you can use.

Environmental sustainability is not automatically aligned with economic sustainability, in fact, they are usually opposed to each other - but with effort they can be aligned - but you need to explain how and why.

Videos can help those who can’t read and write. A lot of information is already available somewhere… can you translate it yourself? Can you find someone who can translate it? How many ways can you think of to make it easier for people to find it? Who is the best person to share this information, so that people will try it? What is the best way to share it?

Quite often, there is a lot of things that we can start doing already. I often ask myself: “What am I waiting for? Why didn’t I start doing this a long time ago already? Why didn’t I just do it?”