Guifi.net is a novel way of introducing broadband Internet services to rural places, villages, farms in Spain. Guifi.net has launched the idea of grassroot, bottom up creation of fiber and broadband connectivitiy and they also build up a local ecosystem of connectivity operators.
Historically, the availability and affordability of broadband Internet has been poor in Spain, particularly when compared to other European nations. Guifi.net was founded in 2000 as a response to the lack of broadband internet in rural Catalonia, where commercial internet providers weren’t providing a connection.
Guifi.net is essentially a crowdsourced computer network structured to be free, neutral and open to all. The idea, developed by Ramon Roca and his co-founders, is a “mesh network” where each person in the network uses a small radio transmitter that functions like a wireless router to become a node in Guifi.net. Only one node needs to be connected to the internet and from it the connection is shared wirelessly with all others in its vicinity, who again share the connection wirelessly with those closest to them. This creates an adaptable and decentralised network infrastructure built by individuals, organisations and communities pooling their resources together.
The network now consists of 31,669 working nodes covering over 57,000 kilometres of Internet connection links, many of them offering high broadband quality. Guifi.net has proved to be an effective way of providing Internet to those who would be unable to access it otherwise. Finally, since Guifi.net is an open network, anybody can join it and use it for whatever purpose. While much of Guifi.net’s network is concentrated in Catalonia, it has also expanded across parts of Europe and as far as Argentina, China, India and the US.
Image: Extramguifi - CC 3.0