Journal article Open Access

Alternative Networks: Towards a Global Access to the Internet for All

Jose; Andres; Arjuna; Bart; Ermanno; Marco; Javier; Ioannis; Carlos

The Internet is ubiquitous in our daily lives, but this holds true only for those who can afford it. As telecommunications operators deploy infrastructure and provide Internet services based on profit and regulations, billions of people are still digitally-disconnected. The only solution for these unsatisfied users is to build themselves the infrastructure required for obtaining access to the Internet. This article presents a global classification and a summary of the main characteristics of different Alternative Network deployments arisen in the last years with an aim to provide Internet services, where mainstream network deployments do not exist or are not the preferred solution. The “Global Access to the Internet for All” Working Group of the Internet Research Task Force, where all authors actively participate, is interested in documenting these emerging deployments. As an outcome of this work, a classification has converged by consensus, where five classification criteria have been identified and, based on them, four different types of Alternative Networks have been identified, which we describe along with real examples for each of them. Such a classification is useful for a deeper understanding of the common characteristics behind existing and emerging Alternative Networks.

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