Expanding the Internet Commons: The Subversive Potential of Wireless Community Networks

Journal of Peer Production, Issue No. 6: Disruption and the Law, January 2015

40 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2016

See all articles by Primavera De Filippi

Primavera De Filippi

Université Paris II - Panthéon-Assas

Félix Tréguer

French National Center for Scientific Research; Sciences Po - Center for International Studies and Research (CERI)

Date Written: January 31, 2015

Abstract

The paper begins by sketching out a short history of telecom policy, pointing to the prejudicial consequences of centralization from a political perspective, as incumbent ISPs turn into network gatekeepers, fostering their commercial interests by exerting greater control over users' communications. Based on our fieldwork and qualitative interviews, the paper then moves on to describing WCN, presenting the main characteristics of these grassroots attempts at bringing about a “subversive rationalization” of the last-mile network infrastructure. This second section outlines the motivations underlying the deployment of WCN, together with their technical features and innovative, commons-based models of governance, which all strongly contrast with the dominant, commercial model for Internet access provision. The third and last section assesses the impact of WCN on telecom regulation and the new power dynamics it entails, with regard to both the private sector and the public sector. The paper concludes that current telecom regulation significantly overlooks the contribution of community networks to fostering political and socio-economic objectives associated with broadband policy and proposes a number of policy recommendations to overcome this gap.

Keywords: wireless community networks, mesh networking, internet commons, spectrum regulation, competition

Suggested Citation

De Filippi, Primavera and Tréguer, Félix, Expanding the Internet Commons: The Subversive Potential of Wireless Community Networks (January 31, 2015). Journal of Peer Production, Issue No. 6: Disruption and the Law, January 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2725358

Primavera De Filippi (Contact Author)

Université Paris II - Panthéon-Assas ( email )

12 place du Pantheon
Paris cedex 06, 75231
France

Félix Tréguer

French National Center for Scientific Research ( email )

Paris
France

Sciences Po - Center for International Studies and Research (CERI) ( email )

56 rue Jacob
Paris, 75006
France

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