Community Networks

Em regiões remotas o acesso à Internet parece impossível. No entanto em Mancosi, na África do Sul, o milagre aconteceu e um conjunto de aldeias sem eletricidade têm agora acesso à Internet.

Veja a reportagem publicada pela BBC

Os responsáveis das aldeias montaram uma operação de telecomunicações baseada numa cooperativa. Esta iniciativa é assim caracterizada.

Background: ZenZeleni.net—an emerging umbrella body of community telecoms organisations, inspired and led by ZenZeleni Networks Mankosi, the first telecoms co-op. An important feature of ZenZeleni Mankosi network is that it’s solar powered, since there is no electric grid there. The power systems also allow ZenZeleni users to charge phones at the houses which host the nodes, as well as providing lighting to those homes.

Operational Model: In case of ZenZelani, commercial establishments in the area have a desire for internet connection and are willing to pay for it. It was in the interest of all to run the backhaul as a commons, which would ensure lower prices and wider connectivity for more communities, who are charged based on the percentage of access. Since most users do not own smart phones, network was distributed to public places, like the local school. The biggest users of the networks have been business owners, school-going users and backpackers.

Sharing model: A partnership with the local university was set up, with the university providing bandwidth for free until two months ago. A fibre connection has been purchased from a provider which can be topped up and resold to local schools and other public places via a mesh network.

Technology: Members of the community had neglected the technical aspect but are getting more involved as they realise the value of the internet. When the university backhaul was being utilised access was free but currently newer models are being explored.

Sustainability: This is a sustainable model which fits within the regulatory framework. Being registered as a co-operative, supplying internet for a non-profit, the network is exempt from charges. The cost of hardware is high, so community members cannot afford it however businesses owners are able to pay that cost.