Community Networks

Community Networks and the digital divide

Across the North American continent, there is a stark difference in the availability of the internet to different communities.

Tribal lands are typically remote, rural and rugged landscapes, and often have very patchy, or non-existent internet connectivity.

This programme is available NOW OnDemand on the Digital Planet Page and is available now until Wednesday the 15th of June. It will also be broadcast on Sunday the 12th of June in Phuket on 91.5 FM and 102.5 FM and Online via the Internet radio portals.

Dr Traci Morris explains why such a digital divide exists and how tribes are working together, both within their communities and with each other, to create and gain access to communications networks.

Digital Deras connecting farmers in rural Pakistan.

In rural Punjab in Pakistan, farmers and villagers gather in places called ‘deras’ to socialise, drink tea and coffee and discuss their farms. But one project has created a community networks group to transform one of these deras to have digital facilities – a ‘digital dera’.

Farmers use this digital dera to access crucial weather forecasts and other information to help them manage their farms more efficiently. It also helps them battle the impact of climate change, as the crop cycles change due to shifting weather patterns.

Founders of the project Fouad Bajwa and Aamer Hayat speak to Gareth about the impact of the digital dera project on the farming community.

Offline internet in Cuba.

Cuba is one of the least digitally connected countries in the Western hemisphere. This is due to the US trade embargo but also poor internet infrastructure and tight control of its own government on the flow of information.

Although accessing digital technologies is getting better, for ordinary Cubans going online is still a challenge. The internet connection is slow, unreliable and prohibitively expensive.

To combat this, they have created an offline underground internet called ‘El Paquete Semanal’ or ‘Weekly Package’ – it is a one terabyte collection of eclectic material of movies, tv-series, sports and music while turning a blind eye to copyright.

Reporter Snezana Curcic visited to learn more about this Cuban alternative to broadband internet.

Presenter: Gareth Mitchell With expert commentary from Bill Thompson Producer: Hannah Fisher Studio Manager: Jackie Margerum

(Photo: 5G data stream running through a rural village. Credit: Huber & Starke/Digital Vision/Getty Images)