Many of the lessons learned from building first generation community owned networks bear consideration in the build, design, management etc of next generation networks. These JFDI Community Network books offer the chance to learn from first-hand experience and save re-inventing the wheel.

Rural community broadband is hardly a new subject, but the approaches taken to overcome the digital divide with community-run networks are back in the news with the advent of Fibre To The Home and the increasing amount of commentary and news coverage about the community-owned and run model.

South Witham is an award-winning co-operative in Lincolnshire, England and their story is told in detail from the initial concept through to recent innovations. There are several projects in Sweden where the local community has got together and built their own FTTH network. Perhaps the best known is Mattgrand which was completed in the winter of 1999-2000 in a community of 62 single family homes in Northern Sweden. One comment they make in the blog back in 2005:

"Remember: Everything slower than 10 Mbps is just a toy! :)"

Here in Australia, I believe community owned networks for regional Australia are a very achievable and something the NBN bidders should consider. Rather than rolling FTTN into regional Australia, may of the locals would welcome the contribution of building their own community network if they felt they could get something better. One such example here in Australia is Halenet in Stanthorpe, Queensland.


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