Exploring Wireless Community Networks: The types, tools, and a(nother) local option

In 2002, Chicago’s Center for Neighborhood Technology began thinking about wireless community networks as

a capacity-building tool for local service providers and community-based organizations […], and a tool for advancing the economic outcomes of entire communities by connecting them to the larger economy. The network also potentially becomes a new community asset—comparable to a park or a school—for a 21st century society in which access to and reliance on real-time information and services will increasingly become the norm.

This presentation will provide an overview of wireless community networks by highlighting various socio-technical practices from around the world.  Technical specifications and the organizational body responsible for deploying a network will be considered.

At the time of this presentation the Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband (UC2B) metropolitan fiber network will be transitioning to a new stage of development.  In late January 2013, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration granted UC2B an eight-month extension to continue deploying the network to anchor social institutions and low-income households.  The future of UC2B will likely include a wireless community network. (See part 1 of the video of the UC2B Community Benefit Fund meeting at Champaign Library on February 9, 2013.) This presentation will also consider possible details for UC2B in this regard by combining LIS 451 material and a review of the pre-existing CUWiN, the Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network.

A visualization of how a community wireless network works, courtesy of the Open Technology Institute.

A technical visualization of a mesh community wireless network works, courtesy of the Open Technology Institute.


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