Community Network Exchange on November 20

Published: 10. Nov. 2020 | Tuesday

VISION
To constantly empower communities, especially marginalised and information-dark communities throughout Asia Pacific Region, with the power of information and know-how of community networks.
CONNECTING COMMUNITIES
No one can escape from the absolute need of technology in our daily life today.With the development of low-cost hardware for wireless networking-based on IEEE 802.11b, wireless networks are an emerging technology. This technology opens the possibility of building a network without having the problems associated with, and the cost of putting some sort of physical transmission medium in the ground.
In the past five years, increasing penetration of the Internet and digital media, particularity in developing countries, has driven incredible growth in the number of individuals expressing themselves, engaging, socialising and conducting business online.
Across the world, there are more than 100 community network models using alternative and bottom-up approach to create community-driven infrastructure as a substitute—or to complement—the classic top-down operator-driven paradigm.
Some of these networks are located in Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico), the Africa (South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Congo), Asia Pacific (India, Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, Australia, Afghanistan etc.) the US, and Europe (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Greece, Sweden, Croatia). They provide Internet services in remotest of locations of their respective countries, utilising varying technology, tools, regulations and socio-economic & cultural conditions.
Since its inception, CNX has played a crucial part in understanding the role, relevance, and evolution of community networks in different contexts.
The first edition of CNX delved into understanding the synergies between community networks and community radios. The second CNX was themed around the ‘Role of community networks and community radios in leveraging public Wi-Fi in Asia-Pacific countries’.
CNX 2019 explored understanding how community networks can be looked at as a complementary means of access to the Internet for people with the theme ‘Can Community Networks become Internet of People!’
CNX 2020 takes place in the midst of a new reality. In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the significance of community networks cannot be emphasised more. With rolling social distancing restrictions, people across the globe have been forced to remain at home and the Internet has become an absolute necessity. While half of the world’s population is connected online, the other half remains out of reach.
The digital divide is deeper in developing countries, where only 19% of people are connected to the Internet, when compared to 87% in developed countries. In India alone, despite the high Internet and smartphone penetration across the country, there are still some 300 million citizens who have no Internet connectivity of any kind.
In such situations, where groups of people have no connectivity or means to access the Internet, community networks can play a significant role in connecting and empowering rural and underprivileged populations who are still struggling for meaningful access to the Internet. Under the shadow of the global pandemic, perhaps the question to ask is how best to ensure connectivity for all and should it be considered a basic right? What sort of enabling regulatory and policy environment is required for the mass adoption of community networks? How do we ensure the newly connected are capable digital citizens and are able to maximise the digital opportunities on offer?
With this in mind, the theme of CNX 2020 is ‘Meaningful Access with Community Networks’. Within this overall theme, ten sub-themes will address various dimensions related to meaningful access with community networks and how local communities can leverage them.

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