netCommons: Network infrastructure as commons
What is netCommons? netCommons is a new EU Horizon2020 project under the CAPS call.
It proposes a transdisciplinary methodology on promoting and supporting the creation of network infrastructure as commons.
It includes a balanced mixed of experts in engineering, economics, law, political science, interdisciplinary research,
and two community networks as case studies: the guifi.net network in Spain and ninux.net in Italy.
It wishes to help existing community networks to grow and replicate in more European cities. To become more extrovert, more inclusive, and better understood by the wider population. To empower them to form both a means for equitable and affordable access to the Internet and community-owned infrastructures for the provision of local services.
And what is a community network?
Community networks are wireless and/or wired networks built from the bottom-up through individual contributions in terms of equipment and effort invested by their members.
They can provide affordable Internet connectivity of high quality and/or local services in a more participatory and sustainable way.
The more people become part of the community the larger and more robust the network. Like housing or agriculture cooperatives, Community networks are infrastructures built by the people for the people.
Why netCommons? Why now?
Community networks have been always considered as a non-mainstream activity driven by technology enthusiasts and activists despite the numerous success stories in Europe, such as guifi.net which have reached 30,000 members, and recently won one of the 2015 EU broadband award.
In addition, significant social, economic, political, and legal barriers threaten today their proliferation despite the significant benefits that they can bring to local communities.
However, the issues at stake are rather complicated and subtle and a holistic approach is required that can bring together key actors from the academia, the civil society, and the city authorities.