In the past few years, community broadband has emerged as a response to the limitations of large telcos in servicing
commercially non-viable regions, providing higher speeds and offering consumers and businesses more choices in cost-effective plans. Community broadband is an innovative, localized solution to address the gaps in market based service and bring better and more inclusive Internet coverage. In such a model, broadband investment is usually done collectively by local residents of a municipality, town or city in collaboration with the public authority who
oversees regulatory issues such as right of way, licensing and infrastructure support.
These efforts have met with considerable levels of success in cities and towns in Europe and the US. Reggefiber in the Netherlands for example is an open fiber network that connects over 200 municipalities. The Community Broadband Network in the United Kingdom aims at providing first generation network services to rural areas in Britain through local broadband projects. In the US, municipalities in Tennessee, Kansas and North Carolina have successfully been running high speed, optic fiber affordable Internet services to businesses and homes despite large telcos such as
creating legislative challenges for them.
In India and most developing economies, community broadband efforts are yet to take off in a substantive manner. Lack of capacity building and orientation along with more awareness on community based technology solutions are some significant challenges. However, there have been notable initiatives such as the Wireless for Communities project helmed by the Internet Society (ISOC) and the Digital Empowerment Foundation. Started in 2010, the W4C project works at connecting rural area using unlicensed band and wireless technologies in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and the north east.