We have got opportunity under the umbrella of ISOC and its Islamabad chapter that we have been selected in global training fellowship program by ISOC for which we chose the topic of “Wireless Community Network”. We have selected this topic cause in Pakistan many rural areas are destitute with internet facility that is cheap and reliable. By taking this course and learning from the best experience of our instructor Mr. Barrack Otieno and from our President Mr. Waqas Hassan thanks to his appreciation for providing us the approval letter and go ahead in building such important networking services in rural areas of Pakistan. From now on we are the ambassadors of wireless community networks and we can develop and lay out plan for such networks.
Wireless community network is basically
“A networking infrastructure for providing internet services and all other related services to the community owned by the community for the
betterment of people with cheap cost and reliability”.
Wireless community networks are for those people who can’t afford expensive
networks at their homes living in villages and rural areas
Here is a small effort by me and Abdullah for our future plan’s initiative in
Wireless Community Network, our network name is “TQ Networks” and we
have chosen to develop in rural area of Pakistan a village name “Islam Pura Jabbar”
interview with community Member
Selection of place and naming our network
We have selected a rural area in south Punjab of Pakistan named as “Islam Pura Jabbar”, it’s a small town with population of around 15 to 20 thousands only. The town has one jamia mosque, four banks, 1500 shops, a boys higher secondary school and a girls higher secondary school. Daily usage of mobile devices and internet is around 5 to 10 thousand people. It’s easy to build a wireless network at here cause the place is not congested and not many buildings are there house are built only with max capacity of one floor. Also, we have advantage of less traffic congestion as there are only two towers operating at that place so only two commercial networks are operating there.
Geological Survey of the place
The area of Islam pura Jabbar is around 50 to 60 square kilometres, its plan terrain area no mountains or plateaus, the maximum heights of the building in this area is around 8 to 10 meters only, maximum building in this area is 12 meters high, we have planned to deploy our one node on this building one tower for transmission The tallest building in Islamd Pura Jabbar is GK pizza building which is 12 meters high, so the feasibility of making a transmission line on that building is high with very less LOS and FSL
Installing our first node
Now we have known the place then we will plane to install our first node by acquiring a net café there some public meeting point. Setting up a public access point in a cafe or other meeting place, and we will just turn on our guest network on our home router. Leaving the router open and setting the SSID to “- Our Name-” (the first dash means it will be at the top of the list of SSIDs). With each successful install we get experience, publicity and more members joining. So now we have a community-owned network and we move onto the next steps.
Microsoft Word – Tqnetworks_2020_09.docx
Establishing a Commons license
The commons license is important as it is having the rules to help the network sustain and expand. The basic idea is that anyone can join the network, but they also must agree to not harm the network and also to extend the network by letting other people join their node. It has a similar function to the GNU GPL license for open source software, where you are free to use the software but must share the changes you make to the code.
The basic tenets are:
- Participants are free to use the network for any purpose that does not limit the freedom of others to do the same.
- Participants are free to know how the network and its components function.
- Participants are free to offer and accept services on the network on their own terms.
- By joining the free network, you agree to extend the network to others under the same conditions.
As the network grows, people may want to build businesses around the network. This is generally a good thing as the businesses will need the network to be stable and will help in doing this. The license will prevent any business from closing up the network and unduly profiting from it.
Development of Sustainable funding model
Our sustainable model is very simple- new members pay a set amount that covers average hardware costs on an install, and we ask for $5/month donation. Nearly everyone pays this as it is very small compared to the ISP fees which start around $30/month. So that’s it- we have an install fee to cover hardware and $5/month covers our data centre rentals. We are lucky in that all of our bandwidth is donated. We don’t rent an office or storage space; we don’t have any employees. For storage, install leaders store the gear in their apartments. We will try to have grants at that time if we able to get $40,000 or above. We will use this to help set up Super nodes and hubs. So basically, our network building time grants will help us expand faster. We will keep our monthly expenses as low as possible. We won’t rent rooftop space unless it is in a data centre. We won’t rent an office space. Try to get donated everything.
Help with Volunteers
It’s a small town so we don’t need any efforts to have more volunteers then the average community- owned network, but also, we have to work hard to encourage people to join and get involved. Organizing takes a lot of time, and we mostly make decisions through small meetings with whoever is most involved with an issue. You don’t want everyone at every meeting. One title we do have is “install leader”. This is someone who can complete a rooftop install by themselves if necessary. Usually a rooftop install has one install leader and two trainees. After about 6 installs, a trainee can lead the next install. Installing antennas is the main activity of a community network. Everything else you do should be about enabling more installs.
A long-term plan is to maybe have our first employee when we get over 100 nodes. At this size on our funding model it becomes possible to pay one salary. Volunteers are naturally more concerned about their specific neighbourhood. This needs to be encouraged as they can help decentralize the organization and independently organize installs for their neighbourhood. Centrally organizing everything just slows things down.
Get a regular space for meetups. There are offices that will donate their space for free after work hours. These are good for general meetups. We should also have technical meetups in maker spaces where we can configure routers and practice crimping Ethernet cable etc.
We will Get a team of people together to do installs. These installs will mostly be weekends as that is when people are free during the day. The team has to know how to crimp and run cable, configure and align antennas, drill and install antenna mounts and drill through window frames. Roof installs can sometimes be done using abandoned TV antenna masts. Otherwise we will need to install our own J- pipe mast or bracket using a drill or use a non-penetrating mast.
Acquiring a Whole buildings
We will try to get whole buildings to install a rooftop antenna and then run ethernet to the apartments.
Planning our internet gateways. Initially we will probably use our home ISP connection. Eventually we may want a “super node” with bigger bandwidth. An IXP or ISP may donate a connection, as DE-CIX, Packet, any local fibre company can donate us. Another kind of gateway is a public wife access point. By using directional routers we can extend the range of public access points very easily
Tall structures are the fastest way to expand our network. There are a few different types in this city and we will try them all- housing association buildings, school buildings, mosques, existing antenna masts and building coops. We will make specific presentations and handouts for different types of structures.
We will plan your first major gigabit install at a data centre or tower. This will have sector antennas (P2MP) and point to point. We may need a network engineer to help in their spare time. An IXP connection at a data centre requires a network engineer familiar with BGP. A sector antenna is basically a Wireless ISP (WISP) tower so WISP expertise is needed. The best online forum is the Ubiquiti community, and the best organization is WISPA. The sector antennas can be a gateway and also bridge your mesh network and reduce the number of hops. Try to not to be more than three hops from a gateway.
Every hop half the bandwidth and adds ~15ms of latency. To get a long distance from a gateway use P2P setups- either cheap: 150Mbps such as a pair of Lite Beams, or expensive: gigabit such as a pair of AirFiber. We will try to use the most popular cheap outdoor routers are Ubiquiti. Other good companies are LigoWave, MikroTik. For short distance gigabit connection (less than 1Km) we can use 60GHz antennas like this Wireless Wire dish.
Local mesh networks
Besides connecting to a major tower like a super node, we can build up a neighbourhood network. This is usually based around a person who has strong connections to that area and can be as simple as sharing your connection within a building using ethernet and mesh routers. Also putting a mesh router in our window to give access to a cafe or park across the street or a neighbouring building.
Computer networking groups
We will go to local computer groups if there are and other computer networking groups. Some of them may want to join the group and help us with the hardcore networking problems. We will talk to local WISPs and alternate ISPs. WISPs have the skills needed to make a fast wife network.
We will try getting a non-profit to be our fiscal sponsor (ISOC with our chapter). This will make it easier to accept donations and get grants. Eventually we are making a non-profit organization.
Microsoft Word – Tqnetworks_2020_09.docx
By applying for grants! in ISOC has a “Beyond the Net” grant which is specifically for community internet projects. Other grants and city RFPs will come up. It’s a lot of work but we should apply to everything we can.
We will set up an easy to use donation page on our website. We will need to figure out a structure that can accept tax-deductible donations, like a 501c3 fiscal sponsor, or form a non-profit organization. We can use a service like Stripe to do credit-card processing.
Benefits of Community Network Reduces consumer costs. Community Networks are non- profit networks that usually use unlicensed band and reinvest surplus back into the network, either by lowering costs or by expanding the network.
- Increases investment in local economies. Community-owned networks ensure that revenue spent on telecommunications is spent locally, creating more local economic circulation.
- Enhances local skills. The technical skills to build and manage communication networks is built locally to ease the maintenance of the network. The network can also be used for training and skill development of local people.
- Help to unwind inequitable social systems. Community Networks can magnify positive outcomes like entrepreneurship and education and can also reinforce existing social and economic inequities.
Enhances social bonding: Community networks build community bonds/ties and the social fabric that holds us all together all of them work for a common cause. Community Networks in Pakistan There are currently 10 to 12 community networks operating in Pakistan covering up the community population around 2 million people of rural and urban areas However, there is only one wireless community network W4C (Wireless for Communities), The W4C program in Pakistan was launched in December 2015, in partnership with COMSATS Internet Services and major grant from ISOC. It was a pilot project initiated in Chak Faiz, a rural community in Multan, Punjab province of Pakistan. Hence there is dire need of more Wireless Community Networks to be launched in Pakistan for the rural areas specially. As 63% population of Pakistan belongs to rural areas, they may have access to basic necessities of life, electricity, gas and water resources but they are lacking in better and cost effective internet services, which cut them to the outside world and better opportunities for educating themselves. –