This is the long overdue briefing of our meeting with Sebastián
Bellagamba (ISOC). Participants were Nico Pace, Sebastián, Christian
O'Flaherty (only part of the meeting) and myself.
Sebastian presented what are the current strategies or actions ISOC is
working on in the CN area:
- The first thing he mentioned is that ISOC will not be helping to
deploy and grow a massive number of Community Networks, but they will
rather focus on a few highly visible projects. One in Argentina, one in
Kyrgyzstan and another in a third country I did not write down (maybe
someone here knows about the project).
- They are working on developing what he called an "enabling
environment" for Community Networks. This includes:
* Capacity building
* Global CN community deveolpment
- Regarding Spectrum, they define GSM as their priority. I couldn't
quite catch what has driven them to this conclusion. I mentioned the
importance of expanding the Wi-Fi spectrum to the upper 4Ghz and lower
6Ghz bands; and also the importance of fighting for some TVWS spectrum
for community networks.
- Regarding licencing, he mentioned they are focusing on two strategies:
* defining licencing models that are adapted to CN needs
* defining regulation that allows CNs to operate without a licence
(mostly in rural and underserved areas)
- Regardin Community Development:
* Sebastián sees the CNSIG as an important actor. He mentioned he can
work with us on planning regional or global gatherings. Considering the
ISOC budget for 2018 is already defined, it would be easier to plan for
regional during 2018 and global during 2019.
* He also mentioned it would be good to have CNSIG representation
I presented a perspective that I believe is crucial for the moment we
are living: Community Networks are currently a promise, with big
potential, but there are issues that we need to work on if we truly want
to have a significant quantitative impact on "connecting the next
billion", as the Internet community likes to say.
Regulation issues are one aspect, but we have work to do on technology
and capacity building with a focus on scale if we are to deliver on some
of the expectations that are building up regarding community networks. I
would really hate to see a CN bubble pop in 2019. Those of you who have
been taking part in international events must have heard the phrase:
"money for CNs will only last until 2019".
On this matters his reply was: "there is no money during 2018 for the
CNSIG appart from whatever you can get from Beyond the Net program".
Beyond the Net is now accepting applications and Nico Pace started
another thread proposing some CNSIG coordination. But the other aspect
we should consider is understanding and being able to propose lines of
work and support during 2019 with some chance of influencing ISOC's
Last but not least, we agreed to hold regular meetings so we can better
coordinate the work of the CNSIG and ISOC's CN strategy.
Please share your thoughts or questions.