In the absence of an electricity grid, or unstable power supply, community networks rely on generators, solar energy or, in some cases, hydropower. Although these solutions give communities more control over their power supply, Alternative Solutions for Rural Communities (ASORCOM) in Myanmar found that alternative power solutions can also be vulnerable:
There was no national electrical grid in the project area, so the project had to depend on hydropower and solar. During the rainy seasons, hydropower stations were washed away by flash floods, and solar power was made ineffective by heavy cloud cover. The network did have a backup generator, but the diesel needed to run it led to extra costs for the communities. This meant that the use of the network was limited in the rainy seasons.
However, participatory models are not always easy to manage or sustain. ASORCOM in Myanmar shows how they can test our assumptions of community and collaboration and shared notions of the “common good”. K eeping a sense of “community” in community networks can be hard work:
Sometimes users would fight amongst themselves. Some users downloaded videos and games that affected connectivity for everyone. Sometimes people wanted to charge their neighbours for connecting to their router. We have had to offer counselling to resolve these disputes. We have also had to install software to monitor and control the system.
For more details: https://giswatch.org/cutting-line-sight-community-connectivity-country-report-introduction