On Monday, July 9th 2018 at 18:30 - 21:00 at Impact Hub, Karaiskaki 28, 105 54, Athens, following the planned two-day visit to the wireless community network Sarantaporo.gr, a public event is organized by the netCommons project, funded by the European program Horizon2020. It brings international experts and local stakeholders to the same table to build a better understanding of the critical role and needs of small internet providers and community networks and explore how the new EU telecommunications code may affect them, as well as what preventive measures can be taken today.

The public will have the opportunity to become aware of the community networks models and the global movement of support, as well as the current legal and regulatory framework in Greece as an EU member affecting them. The event will take the form of short presentations by selected guests, both domestic and international.

An open discussion will follow to explore how community networks such as Sarantaporo.gr can be supported and replicated in other areas.

On July 7-9, researchers, business representatives and prominent personalities in the development of Community Networks worldwide will visit one of the successful ventures of this movement in Greece, the Sarantaporo.gr wireless community network. The event includes a two-day guided tour in the area of Sarantaporo (Elassona Municipality) and a public event in Athens with local and international participants. The event is organized by the netCommons program and the Sarantaporo.gr NPO.

What does a doctor who visits a village once per week and a city-dwelling child who is unwilling to visit his village-living grandparents have in common? The answer: they both need Internet connectivity.

Sarantaporo is a small village located opposite Mt Olympus, in central Greece. Until 2010, it did not have Internet connectivity. Being a remote, isolated village with low population density, Greek telcos did not consider Sarantaporo worth the investment to deploy modern telecommunications infrastructure. Likewise, the government (due to its economic situation) was unable to provide Internet connectivity, even though Greek citizens are required to use online services such as TAXISnet — the official state-run digital platform — to submit their tax returns.

Last July we organized a two-day event in Sarantaporo which comprised ICT & Networking training for the locals and a discussion entitled: “Transferring experiences and technical know-how from Sarantaporo.gr Community Network to Northern Tzoumerka municipality, to assist in building their first community network”. A councilman from Northern Tzoumerka municipality was invited and participated in this event, along with members of P2PLab from Ioannina.

Since then we were looking to fund a three-day workshop in the region of Northern Tzoumerka, including the necessary equipment to provide Internet connectivity. During the workshop we intend to build a basic CN infrastructure in cooperation with locals and share with them the relevant knowledge. In addition, best practices for building a special interest community will be discussed. Through this we wish to empower the Tzoumerka team and help them get through the always challenging first steps, towards their long-term goal of bridging the digital divide in the area.

We are excited to announce that this project can now become a reality with the help of FundAction, which is funding us via its “Rethink” grant. In their blog you can read more about the process of the Rethink action. The very important aspect of this grant is the procedure by which it is awarded. Activists from all over Europe submit their proposals, engage in a fruitful interaction on these and finally vote to decide who will be the ones to receive the grant.

Since over a year now in Sarantaporo.gr Non Profit Organization we have been in contact with Internet Society (ISOC) in international meetings, over online interactions and through in-person collaboration with people of the organization who visited our village last Summer. From the beginning we saw that ISOC is an organization which we share a lot of common elements with in terms of vision, and that its network is a natural space for our Community Network to be a part of.

In September 2017 we applied for the Beyond the Net grant of Internet Society in an attempt to approach the organization more closely and pursue funding to finance our Community Network. We are very happy to announce that our proposal was successful and will be funded with $30.000 through 2018 and 2019. This grant arrives very timely, in a period of transformation for our CN.

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