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With an aim to explore synergies between community radios and networks, Internet Society (ISOC), a global non-profit organization and Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) have highlighted the importance of Community Networks in the growth and development of Internet connectivity in India, especially in rural areas.
Commenting on the success of Community Networks, Rajnesh Singh, Regional Director, Asia-Pacific - Regional Bureau, Internet Society said, "The Internet service sector is estimated to grow to $124 billion markets by 2022, and it is imperative for policymakers and regulators in India to realize that supportive government policies and better infrastructure are key for the growth of the sector."
"As per a report by Internet Society, there is no specific spectrum allocated for Community Networks and access to spectrum is critical. 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," Singh added.
Community Networks are communications infrastructure built, managed and used by local communities. They provide a sustainable solution to address the connectivity gaps that exist in underserved urban, remote, and rural areas around the world.
While the primary access points were established in these two hub villages, access nodes were made available in nine more villages per hub, directly reaching out to at least 200 individuals per hub, with the potential to reach out to 4,000 households indirectly over the next two years.
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.
Furthermore, DEF and ISOC jointly announced the launch of the Community Network Champions (CNC). CNC is a certificate programme for community network providers across the globe to gain hands-on experience in the operation and management of community networks.