Blog de AlterMundi

Experiences with community cellphone networks

Some weeks ago, on January 19, 2016, we organized with Bruno from a GSM workshop (cellphone networks) in Casa Nuvem, Rio de Janeiro. We started with a round of presentations, where it was clear from the beginning that the invitation had gathered a very interesting group: some people from New Frontiers of Control, an activist from Fight for the Future, another one from Tactical Tech, some people from Espectro Livre / Radio Livre, and, of course, people from Casa Nuvem.

In total, we were 12 people, and fortunately it wasn’t a meeting composed only by men (something usual in “technical” workshops): 3 of the participants were women, without a doubt encouraged by the inclusive environment of Casa Nuvem.

We were doing a practical demonstration of a self-managed BTS (base station), brought by Bruno and that was originally set up in the little town of Fumaça. With the equipment on the table, we registered ourselves into the network with the cellphones that each one of us had, and we did some test calls between the participants. We talked about the possibilities of technology, the costs, the legal and technical challenges…

The hardware and the software has the same that is used and developed in Rhizomatica, a pioneer group in the world to bring this subject for the first time, whom we had the opportunity to collaborate personally during some weeks of november, 2014.

In those days, Luisa was doing a photoreport, and Keka a documentary (still under production), both of them about the work of Rhizomatica in the Northern mountains of Oaxaca. Since then, the project in Mexico has grown by leaps and bounds, counting today 16 communities that have their own self-managed service of cellphone networks.

Some time before 2014, also Al & Griselda (from visited Rizhomatica in Oaxaca. Months later, with Bruno (from Nuvem) they decided to replicate the experience independently (something always wanted by decentralized projects) in Brazil, and they invited us to give our help. So, in july 2015 we materialized together the first community Internet network (like AlterMundi) with self-managed GSM network (like Rhizomatica) in the little town of Fumaça, Rio de Janeiro.

We also had the pleasure to meet also the guys from Rhizomatica, Dave & Kino that, after living first-hand the experiences, challanges and learnings of Rhizomatica during 2015, they contributed with the news to the meeting of October in Nuvem, sharing experiences with people from Nicaragua, Bielorusia, Estados Unidos, Brazil & Argentina during several days.

Another example that, by articulating movements, we keep on building the social, emotional, collaborative networks that make possible the development the projects that we dream with and that we materialize.

Last modification date: Feb. 10, 2016, 2:58 a.m.
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