Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Could SNET become Cuba's Guifi.net?

Community networks like SNET and Guifi.net are compatible with Cuba's tradition of innovation subject to constraints and socialist values.

In an earlier post, I described Havana's community network, SNET, and wondered what it could become if the government and ETECSA were willing to legitimatize and support it. Spain's Guifi.net provides a possible answer to that question.

Guifi.net is said to be the largest community network in the world. It began in 2004 and has grown to have 34,165 nodes online with 16,758 planned, 407 building, 612 testing and 4,043 inactive. The nodes are linked by WiFi and fiber and there are over 50,000 users throughout Spain. (See the chart and map below).

Community networks like SNET and Guifi.net are compatible with Cuba's tradition of innovation subject to constraints and socialist values. Could SNET grow to serve people throughout Cuba if it had access to ETECSA fiber and the global Internet? While community networks may not be a long-run solution for Cuba, they should be considered as an interim, stopgap means of extending affordable Internet connectivity.

For a technical description of Guifi.net, see A Technological Overview of the Guifi.net Community Network. (Send me a note if you would like to see it, but do not have access).

I also recommend the Internet Society policy brief Spectrum Approaches for Community Networks. It is a concise document with specific recommendations. For example, the section on spectrum management recommends allocating unlicensed spectrum, dynamic sharing of licensed spectrum and innovative licensing like granting licenses for social purposes or small rural communities and give examples of networks employing each of these. There are similar sections with recommendations and examples for policymakers, network organizers, and network operators. The report also has a list of links to other resources and annotated endnotes.

RFC 7962, Alternative Network Deployments: Taxonomy, Characterization, Technologies, and Architectures also provides context and spells out options for potential regulators and network developers and operators and has an extensive list of references.

I hope someone at ETECSA is reading these documents.

Guifi.net growth Source

Guifi.net geographic reach Source

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