A new guide, “How to Create and Regularize a Community Provider“, produced by ARTICLE 19 Brazil in partnership with Instituto Bem Estar Brasil (Brasil Welfare Institute) and ANID (National Association of Digital Inclusion), presents a detailed step-by-step on how to create a community internet provider.
Openly built and managed by the users themselves, community internet providers represent an alternative form of digital inclusion, and are already used in some regions of Brazil. They consist of a conventional internet service, the signal of which is distributed to a limited number of people in a fully collaborative manner.
The guide provides information and a how-to on installing a community provider using three different methods: via radio, cable or mesh network. For each, the guide lists the advantages and disadvantages of installation and maintenance.
It also gives information on regularising a community provider, listing the documents needed and the steps to be taken together with the public agency responsible.
The guide highlights existing legislation in the area, the judiciary’s conduct in litigation cases and presents international human rights standards addressing access to the internet. In addition, it provides a list of all the materials and services that are employed in the initiative and their respective prices.
For Laura Tresca, ARTICLE 19 Brazil’s Digital Rights Officer, and one of those responsible for the work, community internet providers are a way to realise the right to freedom of expression and information in Brazil. “In the absence of well-established public policies in the sector, self-management practices aimed at tackling digital exclusion, such as community internet providers, are fully justifiable and legitimate, especially in a context where internet access is vital for promoting human rights and the strengthening of democracy”, she says.
“In order for the situation of community providers not to remain under legal uncertainty, it is necessary for the government to confirm its viability through appropriate regulation. This guarantee is essential if all the benefits of this connection model, exhaustively addressed in the guide, are to spread to the marginalised regions of internet access in Brazil.”
ARTICLE 19 believes that the Brazilian Federal Government must take measures to advance policies for digital inclusion. Most importantly, through the elaboration of a National Plan for Digital Inclusion, which covers all sectors of society, aiming at promoting the universalisation of quality broadband and thus ensuring access to the internet as a basic right of Brazilian citizens.
The Federal Government should also seek to create policies to promote the plurality and diversity of internet connection models and to act so that so-called “digital cities” are deployed with networks without restrictions of access to any type of content.