December 2022 - You are accessing an archived version of our website. This website is no longer maintained or updated. The Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform has been migrated here:

Community Networks for SDG9--How to Expand Internet Access from the Bottom-up
Monday, 15 May 2017
6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Conference Room E, UNHQ

Side Event


The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Internet Society (ISOC), and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC)


The Internet provides a tremendous opportunity for economic and social empowerment, and the realization of human rights. It is a proven path to enable people in economically disadvantaged areas to connect, communicate and create in ways that are impactful for themselves, and more so for the communities in which they live. But today, 53% of the world’s population are not connected or connected in ways that are meaningful. Further, traditional Internet access models have failed to provide coverage to rural, disadvantaged and marginalized populations, contributing to growing digital gaps and inequality.

Community Networks take a grassroots approach to providing viable alternatives to traditional Internet access models by the use of networking and other technologies by and for a local community. Although not new, there is a growing movement of Community Networks (fueled by emerging technologies and the success of proven and scalable traditional networking and connectivity technologies) that operate local communication infrastructure that is built by local communities and organizations in a bottom-up and democratic manner.

In the spirit of the UN Internet Governance Forum’s Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity’s working definitions and principles, this session will bring together representatives from organizations and initiatives that support and advocate for Community Networks with individuals deploying and managing Community Networks to share their experience and insights on why and how Community Networks are built and sustained for maximum impact—and stand as real-world examples of increasing access to ICTs and providing affordable and equitable access for economic and social benefit, the realization of human rights, and achievement of the SDGs.


  • Ms. Deborah Brown, Global Policy Advocacy Lead, APC
  • Mr. Justin Caso, Advisor for Technology Policy and International Affairs, IEEE
  • Mr. Carl Gahnberg, Policy Advisor, ISOC
  • Mr. Brian Hall, NYC Mesh
  • Mr. Houman Saberi, Resilient Communities Program, New America
  • Ms. Sharada Srinivasan, Research Fellow, University of Pennsylvania
United Nations