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Global Access to the Internet for All                    J. Saldana, Ed.
Internet-Draft                                    University of Zaragoza
Intended status: Informational                            A. Arcia-Moret
Expires: October 28, 2016                        University of Cambridge
                                                                B. Braem
                                                         E. Pietrosemoli
                                                    The Abdus Salam ICTP
                                                         A. Sathiaseelan
                                                 University of Cambridge
                                                              M. Zennaro
                                                    The Abdus Salam ICTP
                                                          April 26, 2016

      Alternative Network Deployments: Taxonomy, characterization,
                     technologies and architectures


   This document presents a taxonomy of a set of "Alternative Network
   Deployments" emerged in the last decade with the aim of bringing
   Internet connectivity to people or of providing a local communication
   infrastructure to serve various complementary needs and objectives.
   They employ architectures and topologies different from those of
   mainstream networks, and rely on alternative governance and business

   The document also surveys the technologies deployed in these
   networks, and their differing architectural characteristics,
   including a set of definitions and shared properties.

   The classification considers models such as Community Networks,
   Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs), networks owned by
   individuals but leased out to network operators who use them as a
   low-cost medium to reach the underserved population, and networks
   that provide connectivity by sharing wireless resources of the users.

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
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   Drafts is at http://datatracker.ietf.org/drafts/current/.

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   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
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   This Internet-Draft will expire on October 28, 2016.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     1.1.  Mainstream networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     1.2.  Alternative Networks  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   2.  Terms used in this document . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   3.  Scenarios where Alternative Networks are deployed . . . . . .   6
     3.1.  Urban vs. Rural Areas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     3.2.  Topology patterns followed by Alternative Networks  . . .   9
   4.  Classification criteria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     4.1.  Commercial model / promoter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     4.2.  Goals and motivation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     4.3.  Administrative model  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
     4.4.  Technologies employed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
     4.5.  Typical scenarios . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   5.  Classification of Alternative Networks  . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     5.1.  Community Networks  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
     5.2.  Wireless Internet Service Providers, WISPs  . . . . . . .  15
     5.3.  Shared infrastructure model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
     5.4.  Crowdshared approaches, led by the users and third party
           stakeholders  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
     5.5.  Testbeds for research purposes  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20
   6.  Technologies employed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20
     6.1.  Wired . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20
     6.2.  Wireless  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20
       6.2.1.  Media Access Control (MAC) Protocols for Wireless

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               Links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  21  802.11 (Wi-Fi)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  21  Mobile technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  22  Dynamic Spectrum  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  22
   7.  Upper layers  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  24
     7.1.  Layer 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  24
       7.1.1.  IP addressing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  24
       7.1.2.  Routing protocols . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  24  Traditional routing protocols . . . . . . . . . .  24  Mesh routing protocols  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  25
     7.2.  Transport layer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  25
       7.2.1.  Traffic Management when sharing network resources . .  25
     7.3.  Services provided . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  26
       7.3.1.  Use of VPNs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  27
       7.3.2.  Other facilities  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  27
   8.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  27
   9.  Contributing Authors  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  28
   10. IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  29
   11. Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  29
   12. Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  29
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  38

1.  Introduction

   One of the aims of the Global Access to the Internet for All (GAIA)
   IRTF research group is "to document and share deployment experiences
   and research results to the wider community through scholarly
   publications, white papers, Informational and Experimental RFCs,
   etc."  [GAIA].  In line with this objective, this document proposes a
   classification of "Alternative Network Deployments".  This term
   includes a set of network access models that have emerged in the last
   decade with the aim of providing Internet connection, following
   topological, architectural, governance and business models that
   differ from the so-called "mainstream" ones, where a company deploys
   the infrastructure connecting the users, who pay a subscription fee
   to be connected and make use of it.

   Several initiatives throughout the world have built these large scale
   networks, using predominantly wireless technologies (including long
   distance) due to the reduced cost of using unlicensed spectrum.
   Wired technologies such as fiber are also used in some of these

   The classification considers several types of alternate deployments:
   Community Networks are self-organized networks wholly owned by the
   community; networks acting as Wireless Internet Service Providers
   (WISPs); networks owned by individuals but leased out to network
   operators who use such networks as a low cost medium to reach the

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   underserved population; and finally there are networks that provide
   connectivity by sharing wireless resources of the users.

   The emergence of these networks has been motivated by a variety of
   factors such as the lack of wired and cellular infrastructures in
   rural/remote areas [Pietrosemoli].  In some cases, alternative
   networks may provide more localized communication services as well as
   Internet backhaul support through peering agreements with mainstream
   network operators.  In other cases, they are built as a complement or
   an alternative to commercial Internet access provided by mainstream
   network operators.

   The present document is intended to provide a broad overview of
   initiatives, technologies and approaches employed in these networks,
   including some real examples.  References describing each kind of
   network are also provided.

1.1.  Mainstream networks

   In this document we will use the term "mainstream networks" to denote
   those networks sharing these characteristics:

   o  Regarding scale, they are usually large networks spanning entire

   o  Top-down control of the network and centralized approach.

   o  They require a substantial investment in infrastructure.

   o  Users in mainstream networks do not participate in the network
      design, deployment, operation, governance and maintenance.

1.2.  Alternative Networks

   The term "Alternative Network" proposed in this document refers to
   the networks that do not share the characteristics of "mainstream
   network deployments".  Therefore, they may share some of the next

   o  Relatively small scale (i.e. not spanning entire regions).

   o  Administration may not follow a centralized approach.

   o  They may require a reduced investment in infrastructure, which may
      be shared by the users, commercial and non-commercial entities.

   o  Users in alternative networks may participate in the network
      design, deployment, operation and maintenance.

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2.  Terms used in this document

   Considering the role that the Internet currently plays in everyday
   life, this document touches on complex social, political, and
   economic issues.  Some of the concepts and terminology used have been
   the subject of study of various disciplines outside the field of
   networking, and responsible for long debates whose resolution is out
   of the scope of this document.

   o  "Global north" and "global south".  Although there is no consensus
      on the terms to be used when talking about the different
      development level of countries, we will employ the term "global
      south" to refer to nations with a relatively lower standard of
      living.  This distinction is normally intended to reflect basic
      economic country conditions.  In common practice, Japan in Asia,
      Canada and the United States in northern America, Australia and
      New Zealand in Oceania, and Europe are considered "developed"
      regions or areas [UN], so we will employ the term "global north"
      when talking about them.

   o  The "Digital Divide".  The following dimensions are considered to
      be meaningful when measuring the digital development state of a
      country: infrastructures (availability and affordability),
      Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector (human
      capital and technological industry), digital literacy, legal and
      regulatory framework and, content and services.  A lack of digital
      development in one or more of these dimensions is what has been
      referred as the "Digital Divide" [Norris].

   o  "Urban" and "rural" zones.  There is no single definition of
      "rural" or "urban", as each country and various international
      organizations define these terms differently, mainly based on
      number of inhabitants, population density and distance between
      houses [UNStats].  For networking purposes, the primary
      distinction is likely the average distance between customers,
      typically measured by population density, as well as the distance
      to the nearest Internet point-of-presence, i.e., the distance to
      be covered by "middle mile" or back haul connectivity.  Some
      regions with low average population density may cluster almost all
      inhabitants into a small number of relatively-dense small towns,
      for example, while residents may be dispersed more evenly in

   o  Demand.  In economics, it describes a consumer's desire and
      willingness to pay a price for a specific good or service.

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   o  Provision is the act of making an asset available for sale.  In
      this document we will mainly use it as the act of making a network
      service available to the inhabitants of a zone.

   o  Underserved area.  Area in which the telecommunication market
      permanently fails to provide the information and communications
      services demanded by the population.

   o  "Free Networks" [FNF].  A definition of Free Network is proposed
      by the Free Network Foundation (see https://thefnf.org) as the one
      that "equitably grants the following freedoms to all:

      *  Freedom 0 - The freedom to communicate for any purpose, without
         discrimination, interference, or interception.

      *  Freedom 1 - The freedom to grow, improve, communicate across,
         and connect to the whole network.

      *  Freedom 2- The freedom to study, use, remix, and share any
         network communication mechanisms, in their most reusable

   o  The principles of Free, Open and Neutral Networks have also been
      summarized [Baig] this way:

      *  You have the freedom to use the network for any purpose as long
         as you do not harm the operation of the network itself, the
         rights of other users, or the principles of neutrality that
         allow contents and services to flow without deliberate

      *  You have the right to understand the network, to know its
         components, and to spread knowledge of its mechanisms and

      *  You have the right to offer services and content to the network
         on your own terms.

      *  You have the right to join the network, and the responsibility
         to extend this set of rights to anyone according to these same

3.  Scenarios where Alternative Networks are deployed

   Different studies have reported that as much as 60% of the people on
   the planet do not have Internet connectivity [Sprague],
   [InternetStats].  In addition, those unconnected are unevenly
   distributed: only 31 percent of the population in "global south"

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   countries had access in 2014, against 80 percent in "global north"
   countries [WorldBank2016].  This is one of the reasons behind the
   inclusion of the objective of providing "significantly increase
   access to ICT and strive to provide universal and affordable access
   to Internet in LDCs (Less Developed Countries) by 2020," as one of
   the targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) [SDG],
   considered as a part of "Goal 9.  Build resilient infrastructure,
   promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster

   For the purpose of this document, a distinction between "global
   north" and "global south" zones is made, highlighting the factors
   related to ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), which
   can be quantified in terms of:

   o  The availability of both national and international bandwidth, as
      well as equipment.

   o  The difficulty to pay for the services and the devices required to
      access the ICTs.

   o  The instability and/or lack of power supply.

   o  The scarcity of qualified staff.

   o  The existence of a policy and regulatory framework that hinders
      the development of these models in favor of state monopolies or

   In this context, the World Summit of the Information Society [WSIS]
   aimed at achieving "a people-centred, inclusive and development-
   oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access,
   utilize and share information and knowledge.  Therefore, enabling
   individuals, communities and people to achieve their full potential
   in promoting their sustainable development and improving their
   quality of life".  It also called upon "governments, private sector,
   civil society and international organizations" to actively engage to
   work towards the bridging of the digital divide.

   Some Alternative Networks have been deployed in underserved areas,
   where citizens may be compelled to take a more active part in the
   design and implementation of ICT solutions.  However, Alternative
   Networks (e.g.  [Baig]) are also present in some "global north"
   countries, being built as an alternative to commercial ones managed
   by mainstream network operators.

   The consolidation of a number of mature Alternative Networks (e.g.
   Community Networks) sets a precedent for civil society members to

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   become more active in the search for alternatives to provide
   themselves with affordable access.  Furthermore, Alternative Networks
   could contribute to bridge the digital divide by increasing human
   capital and promoting the creation of localised content and services.

3.1.  Urban vs. Rural Areas

   The differences presented in the previous section are not only
   present between countries, but within them too.  This is especially
   the case for rural inhabitants, who represent approximately 55% of
   the world's population [IFAD2011], 78% of them in "global south"
   countries [ITU2011].  According to the World Bank, adoption gaps
   "between rural and urban populations are falling for mobile phones
   but increasing for the Internet" [WorldBank2016].

   Although it is impossible to generalize among them, there exist some
   common features in rural areas that have prevented incumbent
   operators for providing access and that, at the same time, challenge
   the deployment of alternative infrastructures [Brewer], [Nungu],
   [Simo_c].  For example, a high network latency was reported in
   [Johnson_b], which could be in the order of seconds during some

   These challenges include:

   o  Low per capita income, as the local economy is mainly based on
      subsistence agriculture, farming and fishing.

   o  Scarcity or absence of basic infrastructure, such as electricity,
      water and access roads.

   o  Low population density and distance (spatial or affective) between
      population clusters.

   o  Underdeveloped social services, such as healthcare and education.

   o  Lack of adequately educated and trained technicians, and high
      potential for those (few) trained to leave the community
      incentivized by better opportunities, higher salaries or the
      possibility to start their own companies [McMahon].

   o  High cost of Internet access [Mathee].

   o  Harsh environments leading to failure in electronic communication
      devices [Johnson_a], which reduces the reliability of the network.

   Some of these factors challenge the stability of Alternative Networks
   and the services they provide: scarcity of spectrum, scale, and

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   heterogeneity of devices.  However, the proliferation of Alternative
   Networks [Baig] has fuelled the creation of low-cost, low-
   consumption, low-complexity off-the-shelf wireless devices.  These
   devices can simplify the deployment and maintenance of alternative
   infrastructures in rural areas.

3.2.  Topology patterns followed by Alternative Networks

   Alternative Networks, considered self-managed and self-sustained,
   follow different topology patterns [Vega_a].  Generally, these
   networks grow spontaneously and organically, that is, the network
   grows without specific planning and deployment strategy and the
   routing core of the network tends to fit a power law distribution.
   Moreover, these networks are composed of a high number of
   heterogeneous devices with the common objective of freely connecting
   and increasing the network coverage and the reliability.  Although
   these characteristics increase the entropy (e.g., by increasing the
   number of routing protocols), they have resulted in an inexpensive
   solution to effectively increase the network size.  One example
   corresponds to Guifi.net [Vega_a] with an exponential growth rate in
   the number of operating nodes during the last decade.

   Regularly, rural areas in these networks are connected through long-
   distance links (the so-called community mesh approach) which in turn
   conveys the Internet connection to relevant organizations or
   institutions.  In contrast, in urban areas, users tend to share and
   require mobile access.  Since these areas are also likely to be
   covered by commercial ISPs, the provision of wireless access by
   Virtual Operators like [Fon] may constitute a way to extend the user
   capacity to the network.  Other proposals like Virtual Public
   Networks [Sathiaseelan_a] can also extend the service.

4.  Classification criteria

   The classification of Alternative Network Deployments, presented in
   this document, is based on the following criteria:

4.1.  Commercial model / promoter

   The entity (or entities) or individuals promoting an Alternative
   Network can be:

   o  A community of users.

   o  A public stakeholder.

   o  A private company.

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   o  Supporters of a crowdshared approach.

   o  A community that already owns an infrastructure and shares it with
      an operator, who, in turn, may also use it for backhauling

   o  A research or academic entity.

   The above actors may play different roles in the design, financing,
   deployment, governance, and promotion of an alternative network.  For
   example, each of the members of a community network maintains the
   ownership over the equipment they have contributed, whereas in others
   there is a single entity, e.g., a private company who owns the
   equipment, or at least a part of it.

4.2.  Goals and motivation

   Alternative Networks can be classified according to their purpose and
   the benefits they bring compared to mainstream solutions, regarding
   economic, technological, social or political objectives.  These
   benefits could be enjoyed mostly by the actors involved (e.g.,
   lowering costs or gaining technical expertise) or by the society as a
   whole (e.g., Internet access in underserved areas or network

   The benefits provided by Alternative Networks include, but are not
   limited to:

   o  Reducing initial capital expenditures (for the network and the end
      user, or both).

   o  Providing additional sources of capital (beyond the traditional
      carrier-based financing).

   o  Reducing on-going operational costs (such as backhaul or network

   o  Leveraging expertise, and having a place for experimentation and

   o  Reducing hurdles to adoption (digital literacy, literacy in
      general, relevance, etc.)

   o  Extending coverage to underserved areas (users and communities).

   o  Providing an alternative service in case of natural disasters and
      other extreme situations.

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   o  Community building, social cohesion and quality of life

   The underlying motivations of users for developing these networks may
   include their desire of free sharing of Internet connectivity; the
   experience of becoming active participants in the deployment and
   management of a real and operational network; various forms of
   activism as e.g. looking for network neutrality guarantees, anti-
   censorship, decentralization to minimize control; creating and
   sharing of "commons" (i.e. information and knowledge resources that
   are collectively shared); preferring alternative ownership model (co-
   owning, co-operating) of the networking infrastructure, etc.

4.3.  Administrative model

   o  Centralized, where a single authority (e.g. a company, a public
      stakeholder) plans and manages the network.

   o  Non-centralized, where the network is managed following a
      distributed approach, in which a whole community may participate.
      The network may also grow according to the fact of new users
      joining it, but not following a plan.

4.4.  Technologies employed

   o  Standard Wi-Fi.  Many Alternative Networks are based on the
      standard IEEE 802.11 [IEEE.802-11-2012] using the Distributed
      Coordination Function.

   o  Wi-Fi modified for long distances (WiLD).  It can work with either
      CSMA/CA or an alternative TDMA MAC [Simo_b].

   o  Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA).  It can be combined with Wi-
      Fi protocol, in a non-standard way [airMAX].  This allows each
      client to send and receive data using pre-designated timeslots.

   o  802.16-compliant (WiMax) [IEEE.802-16.2008] systems over non-
      licensed bands.

   o  Dynamic Spectrum Solutions (e.g. based on the use of white
      spaces), a set of television frequencies that can be utilized by
      secondary users in locations where they are unused, e.g., IEEE
      802.11af [IEEE.802-11AF.2013] or 802.22 [IEEE.802-22.2011].

   o  Satellite solutions can also be employed to give coverage to wide
      areas, as proposed in the RIFE project (https://rife-project.eu/).

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   o  Low-cost optical fiber systems are used to connect households in
      some villages.

4.5.  Typical scenarios

   The scenarios where Alternative Networks are usually deployed can be
   classified as:

   o  Urban / Rural areas.

   o  "Global north" / "Global south" countries.

5.  Classification of Alternative Networks

   This section classifies Alternative Networks according to the
   criteria explained previously.  Each of them has different incentive
   structures, maybe common technological challenges, but most
   importantly interesting usage challenges which feed into the
   incentives as well as the technological challenges.

   At the beginning of each subsection, a table is presented including a
   classification of each network according to the criteria listed in
   the "Classification criteria" subsection.  Real examples of each kind
   of Alternative Network are cited.

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5.1.  Community Networks

   | Commercial       | community                                      |
   | model/promoter   |                                                |
   | Goals and        | all the goals listed in Section 4.2 may be     |
   | motivation       | present                                        |
   | Administration   | non-centralized                                |
   | Technologies     | Wi-Fi [IEEE.802-11-2012] (standard and non-    |
   |                  | standard versions), optical fiber              |
   | Typical          | urban and rural                                |
   | scenarios        |                                                |

           Table 1: Community Networks' characteristics summary

   Community Networks are non-centralized, self-managed networks sharing
   these characteristics:

   o  They start and grow organically, they are open to participation
      from everyone, sharing an open peering agreement.  Community
      members directly contribute active (not just passive) network
      infrastructure.  The network grows as new hosts and links are

   o  Knowledge about building and maintaining the network and ownership
      of the network itself is non-centralized and open.  Different
      degrees of centralization can be found in Community Networks.  In
      some of them, a shared platform (e.g. a web site) may exist where
      a minimum coordination is performed.  Community members with the
      right permissions have an obvious and direct form of
      organizational control over the overall organization of the
      network (e.g.  IP addresses, routing, etc.) in their community
      (not just their own participation in the network).

   o  The network can serve as a backhaul for providing a whole range of
      services and applications, from completely free to even commercial

   Hardware and software used in Community Networks can be very diverse
   and customized, even inside one network.  A Community Network can
   have both wired and wireless links.  Multiple routing protocols or
   network topology management systems may coexist in the network.

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   These networks grow organically, since they are formed by the
   aggregation of nodes belonging to different users.  A minimal
   governance infrastructure is required in order to coordinate IP
   addressing, routing, etc.  An example of this kind of Community
   Network is described in [Braem].  A technological analysis of a
   community network is presented in [Vega_b], focused on technological
   network diversity, topology characteristics, evolution of the network
   over time, robustness and reliability, and networking service

   These networks follow a participatory administration model, which has
   been shown effective in connecting geographically dispersed people,
   thus enhancing and extending digital Internet rights.

   The fact of the users adding new infrastructure (i.e. extensibility)
   can be used to formulate another definition: A Community Network is a
   network in which any participant in the system may add link segments
   to the network in such a way that the new segments can support
   multiple nodes and adopt the same overall characteristics as those of
   the joined network, including the capacity to further extend the
   network.  Once these link segments are joined to the network, there
   is no longer a meaningful distinction between the previous and the
   new extent of the network.  The term "participant" refers to an
   individual, who may become user, provider and manager of the network
   at the same time.

   In Community Networks, profit can only be made by offering services
   and not simply by supplying the infrastructure, because the
   infrastructure is neutral, free, and open (mainstream Internet
   Service Providers base their business on the control of the
   infrastructure).  In Community Networks, everybody usually keeps the
   ownership of what he/she has contributed, or leaves the stewardship
   of the equipment to network as a whole, commons, even loosing track
   of the ownership of a particular equipment itself, in favor of the

   The majority of Community Networks comply with the definition of Free
   Network, included in Section 2.

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5.2.  Wireless Internet Service Providers, WISPs

   | Commercial     | company                                          |
   | model/promoter |                                                  |
   | Goals and      | to serve underserved areas; to reduce capital    |
   | motivation     | expenditures in Internet access; to provide      |
   |                | additional sources of capital                    |
   | Administration | centralized                                      |
   | Technologies   | wireless e.g. [IEEE.802-11-2012],                |
   |                | [IEEE.802-16.2008], unlicensed frequencies       |
   | Typical        | rural (urban deployments also exist)             |
   | scenarios      |                                                  |

                  Table 2: WISPs' characteristics summary

   WISPs are commercially-operated wireless Internet networks that
   provide Internet and/or Voice Over Internet (VoIP) services.  They
   are most common in areas not covered by mainstream telcos or ISPs.
   WISPs mostly use wireless point-to-multipoint links using unlicensed
   spectrum but often must resort to licensed frequencies.  Use of
   licensed frequencies is common in regions where unlicensed spectrum
   is either perceived to be crowded, or too unreliable to offer
   commercial services, or where unlicensed spectrum faces regulatory
   barriers impeding its use.

   Most WISPs are operated by local companies responding to a perceived
   market gap.  There is a small but growing number of WISPs, such as
   [Airjaldi] in India that have expanded from local service into
   multiple locations.

   Since 2006, the deployment of cloud-managed WISPs has been possible
   with hardware from companies such as [Meraki] and later [OpenMesh]
   and others.  Until recently, however, most of these services have
   been aimed at "global north" markets.  In 2014 a cloud-managed WISP
   service aimed at "global south" markets was launched [Everylayer].

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5.3.  Shared infrastructure model

   | Commercial     | shared: companies and users                      |
   | model/promoter |                                                  |
   | Goals and      | to eliminate a capital expenditures barrier (to  |
   | motivation     | operators); lower the operating expenses         |
   |                | (supported by the community); to extend coverage |
   |                | to underserved areas                             |
   | Administration | Non-centralized                                  |
   | Technologies   | wireless in non-licensed bands, [WiLD] and/or    |
   |                | low-cost fiber, mobile femtocells                |
   | Typical        | rural areas, and more particularly rural areas   |
   | scenarios      | in "global south" regions                        |

          Table 3: Shared infrastructure characteristics summary

   In mainstream networks, the operator usually owns the
   telecommunications infrastructure required for the service, or
   sometimes rents infrastructure to/from other companies.  The problem
   arises in large areas with low population density, in which neither
   the operator nor other companies have deployed infrastructure and
   such deployments are not likely to happen due to the low potential
   return on investment.

   When users already own deployed infrastructure, either individually
   or as a community, sharing that infrastructure with an operator can
   benefit both parties and is a solution that has been deployed in some
   areas.  For the operator, this provides a significant reduction in
   the initial investment needed to provide services in small rural
   localities because capital expenditure is only associated with the
   access network.  Renting capacity in the users' network for
   backhauling only requires an increment in the operating expenditure.
   This approach also benefits the users in two ways: they obtain
   improved access to telecommunications services that would not be
   accessible otherwise, and they can derive some income from the
   operator that helps to offset the network's operating costs,
   particularly for network maintenance.

   One clear example of the potential of the "shared infrastructure
   model" nowadays is the deployment of 3G services in rural areas in
   which there is a broadband rural community network.  Since the
   inception of femtocells (small, low-power cellular base stations),

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   there are complete technical solutions for low-cost 3G coverage using
   the Internet as a backhaul.  If a user or community of users has an
   IP network connected to the Internet with some excess capacity,
   placing a femtocell in the user premises benefits both the user and
   the operator, as the user obtains better coverage and the operator
   does not have to support the cost of the backhaul infrastructure.
   Although this paradigm was conceived for improved indoor coverage,
   the solution is feasible for 3G coverage in underserved rural areas
   with low population density (i.e. villages), where the number of
   simultaneous users and the servicing area are small enough to use
   low-cost femtocells.  Also, the amount of traffic produced by these
   cells can be easily transported by most community broadband rural

   Some real examples can be referenced in the TUCAN3G project, which
   deployed demonstrator networks in two regions in the Amazon forest in
   Peru [Simo_d].  In these networks [Simo_a], the operator and several
   rural communities cooperated to provide services through rural
   networks built up with WiLD links [WiLD].  In these cases, the
   networks belong to the public health authorities and were deployed
   with funds come from international cooperation for telemedicine
   purposes.  Publications that justify the feasibility of this approach
   can also be found on that website.

5.4.  Crowdshared approaches, led by the users and third party

   | Commercial     | community, public stakeholders, private          |
   | model/promoter | companies, supporters of a crowdshared approach  |
   | Goals and      | sharing connectivity and resources               |
   | motivation     |                                                  |
   | Administration | Non-centralized                                  |
   | Technologies   | Wi-Fi [IEEE.802-11-2012]                         |
   | Typical        | urban and rural                                  |
   | scenarios      |                                                  |

          Table 4: Crowdshared approaches characteristics summary

   These networks can be defined as a set of nodes whose owners share
   common interests (e.g. sharing connectivity; resources; peripherals)
   regardless of their physical location.  They conform to the following
   approach: the home router creates two wireless networks: one of them

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   is normally used by the owner, and the other one is public.  A small
   fraction of the bandwidth is allocated to the public network, to be
   employed by any user of the service in the immediate area.  Some
   examples are described in [PAWS] and [Sathiaseelan_c].  Other
   examples are found in the networks created and managed by City
   Councils (e.g., [Heer]).  The "openwireless movement"
   (https://openwireless.org/) also promotes the sharing of private
   wireless networks.

   Some companies [Fon] also promote the use of Wi-Fi routers with dual
   access: a Wi-Fi network for the user, and a shared one.  Adequate AAA
   policies are implemented, so people can join the network in different
   ways: they can buy a router, so they share their connection and in
   turn they get access to all the routers associated with the
   community.  Some users can even get some revenue every time another
   user connects to their Wi-Fi access point.  Users that are not part
   of the community can buy passes in order to use the network.  Some
   mainstream telecommunications operators collaborate with these
   communities, by including the functionality required to create the
   two access networks in their routers.  Some of these efforts are
   surveyed in [Shi].

   The elements involved in a crowd-shared network are summarized below:

   o  Interest: a parameter capable of providing a measure (cost) of the
      attractiveness of a node in a specific location, at a specific
      instance in time.

   o  Resources: A physical or virtual element of a global system.  For
      instance, bandwidth; energy; data; devices.

   o  The owner: End users who sign up for the service and share their
      network capacity.  As a counterpart, they can access another
      owners' home network capacity for free.  The owner can be an end
      user or an entity (e.g. operator; virtual operator; municipality)
      that is to be made responsible for any actions concerning his/her

   o  The user: a legal entity or an individual using or requesting a
      publicly available electronic communications' service for private
      or business purposes, without necessarily having subscribed to
      such service.

   o  The Virtual Network Operator (VNO): An entity that acts in some
      aspects as a network coordinator.  It may provide services such as
      initial authentication or registration, and eventually, trust
      relationship storage.  A VNO is not an ISP given that it does not
      provide Internet access (e.g. infrastructure; naming).  A VNO is

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      not an Application Service Provider (ASP) either since it does not
      provide user services.  Virtual Operators may also be stakeholders
      with socio-environmental objectives.  They can be local
      governments, grass-roots user communities, charities, or even
      content operators, smart grid operators, etc.  They are the ones
      who actually run the service.

   o  Network operators, who have a financial incentive to lease out
      unused capacity [Sathiaseelan_b] at lower cost to the VNOs.

   VNOs pay the sharers and the network operators, thus creating an
   incentive structure for all the actors: the end users get money for
   sharing their network, the network operators are paid by the VNOs,
   who in turn accomplish their socio-environmental role.

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5.5.  Testbeds for research purposes

   | Commercial        | research / academic entity                    |
   | model/promoter    |                                               |
   | Goals and         | research                                      |
   | motivation        |                                               |
   | Administration    | centralized initially, but it may end up in a |
   |                   | non-centralized model.                        |
   | Technologies      | wired and wireless                            |
   | Typical scenarios | urban and rural                               |

                Table 5: Testbeds' characteristics summary

   In some cases, the initiative to start the network is not from the
   community, but from a research entity (e.g. a university), with the
   aim of using it for research purposes [Samanta], [Bernardi].

   The administration of these networks may start being centralized in
   most cases (administered by the academic entity) and may end up in a
   non-centralized model in which other local stakeholders assume part
   of the network administration [Rey].

6.  Technologies employed

6.1.  Wired

   In many ("global north" or "global south") countries it may happen
   that national service providers decline to provide connectivity to
   tiny and isolated villages.  So in some cases the villagers have
   created their own optical fiber networks.  This is the case in
   Lowenstedt in Germany [Lowenstedt], or some parts of Guifi.net

6.2.  Wireless

   The vast majority of Alternative Network Deployments are based on
   different wireless technologies [WNDW].  Below we summarize the
   options and trends when using these features in Alternative Networks.

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6.2.1.  Media Access Control (MAC) Protocols for Wireless Links

   Different protocols for Media Access Control, which also include
   physical layer (PHY) recommendations, are widely used in Alternative
   Network Deployments.  Wireless standards ensure interoperability and
   usability to those who design, deploy and manage wireless networks.
   In addition, then ensure low-cost of equipment due to economies of
   scale and mass production.

   The standards used in the vast majority of Alternative Networks come
   from the IEEE Standard Association's IEEE 802 Working Group.
   Standards developed by other international entities can also be used,
   as e.g. the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).  802.11 (Wi-Fi)

   The standard we are most interested in is 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, as it
   defines the protocol for Wireless LAN.  It is also known as "Wi-Fi".
   The original release (a/b) was issued in 1999 and allowed for rates
   up to 54 Mbit/s.  The latest release (802.11ac) approved in 2013
   reaches up to 866.7 Mbit/s.  In 2012, the IEEE issued the 802.11-2012
   Standard that consolidates all the previous amendments.  The document
   is freely downloadable from IEEE Standards [IEEE].

   The MAC protocol in 802.11 is called CSMA/CA (Carrier Sense Multiple
   Access with Collision Avoidance) and was designed for short
   distances; the transmitter expects the reception of an acknowledgment
   for each transmitted unicast packet; if a certain waiting time is
   exceeded, the packet is retransmitted.  This behavior makes necessary
   the adaptation of several MAC parameters when 802.11 is used in long
   links [Simo_b].  Even with this adaptation, distance has a
   significant negative impact on performance.  For this reason, many
   vendors implement alternative medium access techniques that are
   offered alongside the standard CSMA/CA in their outdoor 802.11
   products.  These alternative proprietary MAC protocols usually employ
   some type of TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access).  Low cost
   equipment using these techniques can offer high throughput at
   distances above 100 kilometers.

   Different specifications of 802.11 operate in different frequency
   bands. 802.11b/g/n operates in 2.4 GHz, but 802.11a/n/ac operates in
   5GHz.  This fact is used in some Community Networks in order to
   separate ordinary and "backbone" nodes:

   o  Typical routers running mesh firmware in homes, offices, public
      spaces operate on 2.4 GHz.

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   o  Special routers running mesh firmware as well, but broadcasting
      and receiving on the 5 GHz band are used in point-to-point
      connections only.  They are helpful to create a "backbone" on the
      network that can both connect neighborhoods to one another when
      reasonable connections with 2.4 GHz Nodes are not possible, and
      ensure that users of 2.4 GHz nodes are within a few hops to strong
      and stable connections to the rest of the network.  Mobile technologies

   GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), from ETSI, has also
   been used in Alternative Networks as a Layer 2 option, as explained
   in [Mexican], [Village], [Heimerl].  Open source GSM code projects
   such as OpenBTS (http://openbts.org) or OpenBSC
   (http://openbsc.osmocom.org/trac/) have created an ecosystem with the
   participation of several companies as e.g.  [Rangenetworks],
   [Endaga], [YateBTS].  This enables deployments of voice, SMS and
   Internet services over alternative networks with an IP-based

   Internet navigation is usually restricted to relatively low bit rates
   (see e.g.  [Osmocom]).  However, leveraging on the evolution of 3rd
   Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards, a trend can be
   observed towards the integration of 4G [Spectrum], [YateBTS] or 5G
   [Openair] functionalities, with significant increase of achievable
   bit rates.

   Depending on factors such as the allocated frequency band, the
   adoption of licensed spectrum can have advantages over the eventually
   higher frequencies used for Wi-Fi, in terms of signal propagation
   and, consequently, coverage.  Other factors favorable to 3GPP
   technologies, especially GSM, are the low cost and energy consumption
   of handsets, which facilitate its use by low-income communities.  Dynamic Spectrum

   Some Alternative Networks make use of TV White Spaces - a set of UHF
   and VHF television frequencies that can be utilized by secondary
   users in locations where they are unused by licensed primary users
   such as television broadcasters.  Equipment that makes use of TV
   White Spaces is required to detect the presence of existing unused TV
   channels by means of a spectrum database and/or spectrum sensing in
   order to ensure that no harmful interference is caused to primary
   users.  In order to smartly allocate interference-free channels to
   the devices, cognitive radios are used which are able to modify their
   frequency, power and modulation techniques to meet the strict
   operating conditions required for secondary users.

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   The use of the term "White Spaces" is often used to describe "TV
   White Spaces" as the VHF and UHF television frequencies were the
   first to be exploited on a secondary use basis.  There are two
   dominant standards for TV white space communication: (i) the 802.11af
   standard [IEEE.802-11AF.2013] - an adaptation of the 802.11 standard
   for TV white space bands and (ii) the IEEE 802.22 standard
   [IEEE.802-22.2011] for long-range rural communication.  802.11af

   802.11af [IEEE.802-11AF.2013] is a modified version of the 802.11
   standard operating in TV White Space bands using Cognitive Radios to
   avoid interference with primary users.  The standard is often
   referred to as White-Fi or "Super Wi-Fi" and was approved in February
   2014. 802.11af contains much of the advances of all the 802.11
   standards including recent advances in 802.11ac such as up to four
   bonded channels, four spatial streams and very high rate 256-QAM
   modulation but with improved in-building penetration and outdoor
   coverage.  The maximum data rate achievable is 426.7 Mbps for
   countries with 6/7 MHz channels and 568.9 Mbps for countries with 8
   MHz channels.  Coverage is typically limited to 1 km although longer
   range at lower throughput and using high gain antennas will be

   Devices are designated as enabling stations (Access Points) or
   dependent stations (clients).  Enabling stations are authorized to
   control the operation of a dependent station and securely access a
   geolocation database.  Once the enabling station has received a list
   of available white space channels it can announce a chosen channel to
   the dependent stations for them to communicate with the enabling
   station. 802.11af also makes use of a registered location server - a
   local database that organizes the geographic location and operating
   parameters of all enabling stations.  802.22

   802.22 [IEEE.802-22.2011] is a standard developed specifically for
   long range rural communications in TV white space frequencies and
   first approved in July 2011.  The standard is similar to the 802.16
   (WiMax) [IEEE.802-16.2008] standard with an added cognitive radio
   ability.  The maximum throughput of 802.22 is 22.6 Mbps for a single
   8 MHz channel using 64-QAM modulation.  The achievable range using
   the default MAC scheme is 30 km, however 100 km is possible with
   special scheduling techniques.  The MAC of 802.22 is specifically
   customized for long distances - for example, slots in a frame
   destined for more distant Consumer Premises Equipment (CPEs) are sent
   before slots destined for nearby CPEs.

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   Base stations are required to have a Global Positioning System (GPS)
   and a connection to the Internet in order to query a geolocation
   spectrum database.  Once the base station receives the allowed TV
   channels, it communicates a preferred operating white space TV
   channel with the CPE devices.  The standard also includes a co-
   existence mechanism that uses beacons to make other 802.22 base
   stations aware of the presence of a base station that is not part of
   the same network.

7.  Upper layers

7.1.  Layer 3

7.1.1.  IP addressing

   Most Community Networks use private IPv4 address ranges, as defined
   by [RFC1918].  The motivation for this was the lower cost and the
   simplified IP allocation because of the large available address

   Most known Alternative Networks started in or around the year 2000.
   IPv6 was fully specified by then, but almost all Alternative Networks
   still use IPv4.  A survey [Avonts] indicated that IPv6 rollout
   presented a challenge to Community Networks.  However, some of them
   have already adopted it as e.g. ninux.org.

7.1.2.  Routing protocols

   As stated in previous sections, Alternative Networks are composed of
   possibly different layer 2 devices, resulting in a mesh of nodes.
   Connection between different nodes is not guaranteed and the link
   stability can vary strongly over time.  To tackle this, some
   Alternative Networks use mesh network routing protocols while other
   networks use more traditional routing protocols.  Some networks
   operate multiple routing protocols in parallel.  For example, they
   may use a mesh protocol inside different islands and rely on
   traditional routing protocols to connect these islands.  Traditional routing protocols

   The Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), as defined by [RFC4271] is used by
   a number of Community Networks, because of its well-studied behavior
   and scalability.

   For similar reasons, smaller networks opt to run the Open Shortest
   Path First (OSPF) protocol, as defined by [RFC2328].

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   A large number of Alternative Networks use customized versions of the
   Optimized Link State Routing Protocol (OLSR) [RFC3626].  The
   [olsr.org] open source project has extended the protocol with the
   Expected Transmission Count metric (ETX) [Couto] and other features,
   for its use in Alternative Networks, especially wireless ones.  A new
   version of the protocol, named OLSRv2 [RFC7188] is becoming used in
   some community networks [Barz].

   B.A.T.M.A.N.  Advanced [Seither] is a layer-2 routing protocol, which
   creates a bridged network and allows seamless roaming of clients
   between wireless nodes.

   Some networks also run the BMX6 protocol [Neumann_a], which is based
   on IPv6 and tries to exploit the social structure of Alternative

   Babel [RFC6126] is a layer-3 loop-avoiding distance-vector routing
   protocol that is robust and efficient both in wired and wireless mesh

   In [Neumann_b] a study of three proactive mesh routing protocols
   (BMX6, OLSR, and Babel) is presented, in terms of scalability,
   performance, and stability.

7.2.  Transport layer

7.2.1.  Traffic Management when sharing network resources

   When network resources are shared (as e.g. in the networks explained
   in Section 5.4), special care has to be taken with the management of
   the traffic at upper layers.  From a crowdshared perspective, and
   considering just regular TCP connections during the critical sharing
   time, the Access Point offering the service is likely to be the
   bottleneck of the connection.

   This is the main concern of sharers, having several implications.  In
   some cases, an adequate Active Queue Management (AQM) mechanism that
   implements a Lower-than-best-effort (LBE) [RFC6297] policy for the
   user is used to protect the sharer.  Achieving LBE behavior requires
   the appropriate tuning of the well known mechanisms such as Explicit
   Congestion Notification (ECN) [RFC3168], or Random Early Detection
   (RED) [RFC2309], or other more recent AQM mechanisms such as
   Controlled Delay (CoDel) and [I-D.ietf-aqm-codel] PIE (Proportional
   Integral controller Enhanced) [I-D.ietf-aqm-pie] that aid low

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7.3.  Services provided

   This section provides an overview of the services provided by the
   network.  Many Alternative Networks can be considered Autonomous
   Systems, being (or aspiring to be) a part of the Internet.

   The services provided can include, but are not limited to:

   o  Web browsing.

   o  e-mail.

   o  Remote desktop (e.g. using my home computer and my Internet
      connection when I am away).

   o  FTP file sharing (e.g. distribution of software and media).

   o  VoIP (e.g. with SIP).

   o  P2P file sharing.

   o  Public video cameras.

   o  DNS.

   o  Online games servers.

   o  Jabber instant messaging.

   o  Weather stations.

   o  Network monitoring.

   o  Videoconferencing / streaming.

   o  Radio streaming.

   o  Message / Bulletin board.

   Due to bandwidth limitations, some services (file sharing, VoIP,
   etc.) may not be allowed in some Alternative Networks.  In some of
   these cases, a number of federated proxies provide web browsing
   service for the users.

   Some specialized services have been especifically developed for
   Alternative Networks:

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   o  Inter-network peering/VPNs (e.g. https://wiki.freifunk.net/IC-

   o  Local wikis (e.g. https://localwiki.org).

   o  Community oriented portals (e.g. http://tidepools.co/).

   o  Network monitoring/deployment/maintenance platforms.

   o  VoIP sharing between networks, allowing cheap calls between

   o  Sensor networks and citizen science build by adding sensors to

   o  Community radio/TV stations.

7.3.1.  Use of VPNs

   Some "micro-ISPs" may use the network as a backhaul for providing
   Internet access, setting up VPNs from the client to a machine with
   Internet access.

7.3.2.  Other facilities

   Other facilities, as NTP or IRC servers may also be present in
   Alternative Networks.

8.  Acknowledgements

   This work has been partially funded by the CONFINE European
   Commission Project (FP7 - 288535).  Arjuna Sathiaseelan and Andres
   Arcia Moret were funded by the EU H2020 RIFE project (Grant Agreement
   no: 644663).  Jose Saldana was funded by the EU H2020 Wi-5 project
   (Grant Agreement no: 644262).

   The editor and the authors of this document wish to thank the
   following individuals who have participated in the drafting, review,
   and discussion of this memo: Paul M.  Aoki, Roger Baig, Jaume
   Barcelo, Steven G.  Huter, Rohan Mahy, Rute Sofia, Dirk Trossen,
   Aldebaro Klautau, Vesna Manojlovic, Mitar Milutinovic, Henning
   Schulzrinne, Panayotis Antoniadis.

   A special thanks to the GAIA Working Group chairs Mat Ford and Arjuna
   Sathiaseelan for their support and guidance.

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9.  Contributing Authors

   Leandro Navarro
   U. Politecnica Catalunya
   Jordi Girona, 1-3, D6
   Barcelona  08034

   Phone: +34 934016807
   Email: leandro@ac.upc.edu

   Carlos Rey-Moreno
   University of the Western Cape
   Robert Sobukwe road
   Bellville  7535
   South Africa

   Phone: 0027219592562
   Email: crey-moreno@uwc.ac.za

   Ioannis Komnios
   Democritus University of Thrace
   Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
   Kimmeria University Campus
   Xanthi 67100

   Phone: +306945406585
   Email: ikomnios@ee.duth.gr

   Steve Song
   Network Startup Resource Center
   Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

   Phone: +1 902 529 0046
   Email: stevesong@nsrc.org

   David Lloyd Johnson
   Meraka, CSIR
   15 Lower Hope St
   Rosebank 7700
   South Africa

   Phone: +27 (0)21 658 2740
   Email: djohnson@csir.co.za

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   Javier Simo-Reigadas
   Escuela Tecnica Superior de Ingenieria de Telecomunicacion
   Campus de Fuenlabrada
   Universidad Rey Juan Carlos

   Phone: 91 488 8428 / 7500
   Email: javier.simo@urjc.es

10.  IANA Considerations

   This memo includes no request to IANA.

11.  Security Considerations

   No security issues have been identified for this document.

12.  Informative References

              Rural Broadband (RBB) Pvt. Ltd., Airjaldi., "Airjaldi
              service", Airjaldi web page, www.airjaldi.net , 2015.

   [airMAX]   Ubiquiti Networks, Inc., airMAX., "airMAX", airMAX web
              page, https://www.ubnt.com/broadband/ , 2016.

   [Avonts]   Avonts, J., Braem, B., and C. Blondia, "A Questionnaire
              based Examination of Community Networks", Proceedings
              Wireless and Mobile Computing, Networking and
              Communications (WiMob), 2013 IEEE 8th International
              Conference on (pp. 8-15) , 2013.

   [Baig]     Baig, R., Roca, R., Freitag, F., and L. Navarro,
              "guifi.net, a crowdsourced network infrastructure held in
              common", Computer Networks, vol. 90, no. C, pp. 150-165,
              Oct. 2015. doi:10.1016/j.comnet.2015.07.009, 2015.

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Authors' Addresses

   Jose Saldana (editor)
   University of Zaragoza
   Dpt. IEC Ada Byron Building
   Zaragoza  50018

   Phone: +34 976 762 698
   Email: jsaldana@unizar.es

Saldana, et al.         Expires October 28, 2016               [Page 38]

Internet-Draft       Alternative Network Deployments          April 2016

   Andres Arcia-Moret
   University of Cambridge
   15 JJ Thomson Avenue
   Cambridge  FE04
   United Kingdom

   Phone: +44 (0) 1223 763610
   Email: andres.arcia@cl.cam.ac.uk

   Bart Braem
   Gaston Crommenlaan 8 (bus 102)
   Gent  9050

   Phone: +32 3 265 38 64
   Email: bart.braem@iminds.be

   Ermanno Pietrosemoli
   The Abdus Salam ICTP
   Via Beirut 7
   Trieste  34151

   Phone: +39 040 2240 471
   Email: ermanno@ictp.it

   Arjuna Sathiaseelan
   University of Cambridge
   15 JJ Thomson Avenue
   Cambridge  CB30FD
   United Kingdom

   Phone: +44 (0)1223 763781
   Email: arjuna.sathiaseelan@cl.cam.ac.uk

   Marco Zennaro
   The Abdus Salam ICTP
   Strada Costiera 11
   Trieste  34100

   Phone: +39 040 2240 406
   Email: mzennaro@ictp.it

Saldana, et al.         Expires October 28, 2016               [Page 39]

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