New Delhi: With a view to explore synergies between community radios and community networks, Internet Society (ISOC), and Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), a non-profit organisation have emphasised the importance of community networks in the growth and development of Internet connectivity in India, especially in rural areas.
Community Networks is the use of networking technologies by, and for, local communities providing a sustainable solution to address the connectivity gaps that exist in underserved urban, remote, and rural areas around the world.
Virginia-headquartered ISOC is a global non-profit organisation dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet and DEF aims to eradicate information poverty through access to technology.
Information poverty is a situation where individuals and communities do not have the requisite skills, abilities or material means to obtain efficient access to information, interpret it and apply it appropriately.
“The Internet service sector is estimated to grow to $124 billion market by 2022, and it is imperative for policy makers and regulators in India to realise that supportive government policies and better infrastructure are key for the growth of the sector,” said Rajnesh Singh, Regional Bureau Director-Asia Pacific, ISOC.
“Policymakers and regulators can play a key role in ensuring innovative approaches to making spectrum available. By supporting initiatives like Community Networks, the government and the nation will be able to fulfill the vision of Digital India and help millions get online,” added Singh.
In India, where connectivity gaps are more prevalent, DEF started pilot programmes this year called ‘Internet in a Box’, which were deployed in Tain village of Haryana and Asoor village of Tamil Nadu.
So far, DEF has established community networks at more than 140 locations across 15 regions, including Baran in Rajasthan, Guna in Madhya Pradesh, Nuh in Haryana, Asoor in Tamil Nadu, Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh and Nagaon in Assam.
Further, DEF and ISOC jointly announced the launch of the Community Network Champions (CNC) which is a certificate programme for community network providers across the globe to gain hands-on experience in the operation and management of community networks.