USAID Gathers Community Network Champions to Share Good Practices and Collaborate in Enhancing Internet Operability in the Philippines
On March 1, 2023, United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Better Access and Connectivity (BEACON) Project organized a forum entitled “Sharing of Good Practices on Community Networks” as a side event of the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Conference on Operational Technologies (APRICOT 2023) at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila.
The forum, which gathered more than 20 community network champions, community network implementers, civil society organizations, and government representatives, served as a platform for attendees to share connectivity solutions, innovations, good practices, challenges in funding, and lessons learned in implementing community-based internet networks in the Philippines and in other countries. USAID’s BEACON Chief of Party John Garrity served as moderator during the open discussion and networking session.
The discussion highlighted the importance of securing the community’s buy-in and support from host local government units (LGU) and other partners to establish networks; engaging and building the capacity of local champions to support and sustain the networks; and putting in place enabling policies at the national and local levels for the deployment and operations of community networks.
Participants also underscored market and business solutions such as maintaining cost-effectiveness of the network; leveraging the resources and expertise of other community network champions; focusing on self-sustaining solutions that local stakeholders can implement rather than third-party support; and investing in human resources through skills training and capacity-building for successful network deployments.
By sharing good practices and lessons learned, community network champions can collaborate and enhance the implementation, sustainability, and impact of community-based internet networks to help increase participation of Filipinos in the digital economy.