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Go Local! Workshop

Workshop Outputs

2-3 December 2014
Berkeley, California


There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that access to communication strengthens social safety nets, improves social and economic efficiencies, and creates new opportunities. And yet, as many as three billion people in the world still do not have access to communication infrastructure1. For those who remain unconnected, the digital divide is growing because those with access have an ever-increasing advantage in the world.

While mobile networks continue to grow at a rapid rate, they tend to be concentrated in the more lucrative areas of highest population density. People in sparsely populated rural areas are unlikely to realise the benefits of access in the near term as there is no business case for extending access based on the current operational models of mobile network operators (MNOs).

At the same time, innovations in low-cost communication infrastructure have created new possibilities for the development of locally-owned and managed communication infrastructure. However, entrepreneurs and community organisations alike are inhibited from pursuing these models due to policy and regulatory frameworks that do not embrace the potential of bottom-up innovation in communication technology. Limitations of these frameworks include restricted access to spectrum as well as network and service operation licenses that are not geared to under-serviced areas or to community-level approaches.

There is an opportunity to look at the intersection of technology, policy, and business models to find generalisable ways of enabling community operators of communication infrastructure. This is also an important time to share early success stories and strategies for implementing local telcos and to build a community of actors and advocates in this space.

Workshop Goals

The workshop will bring together lawyers, policy experts, technologists, entrepreneurs, community organisers, and researchers to discuss how to increase the viability of community, micro and locally-owned telecommunication infrastructure. In particular, project leaders from groundbreaking locally-owned infrastructure projects from around the world will be invited to share knowledge and brainstorm next steps for generalising the early success of their initiatives.

Participants will be invited to explore the range of policies and regulations that would enable community, micro and locally-owned and managed communication infrastructure to flourish.

Participants will discuss low-cost Open Source GSM, improvements to existing WiFi regulation, and Television White Spaces projects from around the globe. Equally, alternative policy / licensing issues such as service provider licensing for alternative access, telecom cooperatives, and innovations in organisational approaches to local telcos will be explored.

Existing but largely failed initiatives such as Universal Service Funds and Under-serviced Area Licenses will be revisited in the context of new technological and organisation innovations. Alternatives such as constitutional challenges, and other rights-based approaches as well as international treaty obligations will be explored as potential avenues for seeking dispensation for local initiatives.

Workshop Structure

The workshop will operate along three tracks:

  1. Technological Innovation
  2. Policy and Regulation
  3. Business and Operational Models

Over the two days participants will work in small groups and together in plenary to establish key barriers and opportunities in each of the three tracks and explore how the different tracks impact each other.

The Go Local! workshop will take place in room B110 at:

   Blum Center for Developing Economies
   The University of California, Berkeley
   Blum Hall, #5570
   Berkeley, CA 94720-5570
   Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm 
   (510) 643-5316

GIS: 37.875271, -122.258814

For those staying at the Farmhouse, here is a walking map from the house to the venue.

Golocal farmhouse map.jpg


Confirmed Participants

Steve Song NSRC / Village Telco
Peter BloomRhizomatica
Ron SteinherzDenovo Group
Mallory KnodelAPC
Marco ZennaroICTP
Erick HuertaRhizomatica/REDES
Carlos Rey-MorenoUniv Western Cape
Kurtis HeimerlEndaga
Shaddi HasanEndaga
Jim ForsterAir Jaldi
Alexander ChemerisFairWaves
Mark SummerVolo
Yahel Ben-DavidDe Novo Group/TIER
Rob McMahonUniversity of New Brunswick
Ramon RocaGuifi.net
Andrés Arcia-MoretUniversidad de Los Andes
Daniel BaravalleAltermundi
Leandro NavarroCONFINE
Rolando GuevaraRhizomatica
Dan TelerinKNET (remote participation)

Day One - Discovery

Tuesday, December 2nd

The first day of the workshop will be spent in "discovery". Our goal will be to learn from each other about what is happening in the world of local telecoms. We have chosen to look at local telecoms through the lenses of Technology, Regulation, and Business models and have organised sessions around each of these themes. Each session will have two facilitators who will be responsible for setting the scene and then drawing out the experience of participants as it relates to that theme.

Time Session Lead
8:30am - 9:00am Registration
9:00am - 9:30am Workshop Introduction and Context Setting
Background for this workshop, objectives, expectation setting
Steve Song
9:30am - 10:30am Overview: Technology Trends and Local Infrastructure
How are evolutions in technology changing the landscape and potential for local communication infrastructure? What's changing with fibre, manufacturing, wireless regulation, wireless technology? What can we expect in the future?
Facilitators: Marco Zennaro / Shaddi Hasan
10:30am - 11:00am Coffee / Tea Break
11:00am - 12:30pm Overview: Enabling Regulation for Local Telcos
What are the opportunities and barriers that exist within current regulatory regimes? What needs to change and where are the key places to intervene, nationally, internationally, regionally?

Remote participation by Dominic Cull, regulatory lawyer from South Africa
Facilitators: Erick Huerta / Steve Song
12:30am - 2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm - 3:30pm Overview: Business Models for Local Telcos
From startups to cooperatives to community organisations. Where are the success stories and what has been learned so far?

Remote participation from KNET, a community GSM operator from Sioux Lookout in Ontario, Canada.
Facilitators: Jim Forster / Ramon Roca
3:30pm - 4:00pm Coffee / Tea Break
4:00pm - 5:30pm Points of commonality
Are there significant points of agreement or disagreement in the discussion so far? What needs further research? Where are the allies of a local telco movement?
Peter Bloom

Group Dinner

Taste of the Himalayas
1700 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley
Sponsored by NetworkTheWorld

Day Two - Action

Wednesday, December 3rd

In the 2nd and final day of the workshop, we'll translate what we learned on Day 1 into action. The morning will be spent in 3 break-out groups, once again divided according to Technology, Regulation, and Business Models. Each groups will develop their themes to identify leadership examples, choke-points in local telco development, and opportunities for collective action. Each group will nominate a facilitator and rapporteur.

The afternoon of Day 2 will be an opportunity for those with specific areas or goals that they would like to develop/explore, to organise sessions around their topic. We'll use an Open Space process two organise two rounds of sessions in the afternoon.

Time Session Lead
9:00am - 9:30am Introduction to Day 2
Introduction to Morning breakout groups and afternoon Open Space sessions
Steve Song / Peter Bloom
9:30am - 10:30am Breakout groups on tech, business models, and regulation
The workshop will break out into three working groups on 1/ technology, 2/ business models, 3/ regulation and work to develop a set of recommendations for policies and incentives that would stimulate local telco development.
10:30am - 11:00am Coffee / Tea Break
11:00am - 11:30pm Group check-in
Groups check-in and review points of overlap across working groups.
11:30am - 12:30pm Breakout groups continued
12:30am - 2:00pm Lunch
Open Space set up for Afternoon Session
2:00pm - 3:30pm Open Space sessions
3:30pm - 4:00pm Coffee / Tea Break
4:00pm - 5:00pm Open Space sessions
5:00pm - 5:30pm Wrap-up and plans for the future

Group Dinner

Great China
2190 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Sponsored by NSRC

Supported by Rhizomatica, Shuttleworth Foundation, NSRC, Blum Center for Developing Economies, and NetworkTheWorld