European Community Networks Summit Held in Tbilisi

European Community Networks Summit was held in Tbilisi on November 14-15. Successful implementation of the projects on community internet access in the country preconditioned conducting the Summit in Georgia. A special panel was dedicated to the development of the community networks in Georgia within the framework of the Summit and the country’s experience was greatly appreciated. 

The Summit was organized by the global nonprofit organization (ISOC). The event was supported and co-organized by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia and the Association of Small and Medium Telecommunication Operators (TOA).

The European Parliament Member Tsvetelina Penkova, the Chief Advisor to the Executive Director of the Internet Society, Jane Coffin and the Deputy Minister of High Technology Industry of Armenia, Armen Abroyan were the speakers of the summit. 

Nikoloz Alavidze, the Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia welcomed the participants at the opening of the Summit. Alavidze highlighted that one of the priorities and challenges of the government of the country is the development of information and communication sector, including the broadband internet infrastructure. According to the Deputy Minister, the development of the community internet networks, especially in the mountainous regions, plays an important role in the processes. 

Nikoloz Alavidze in his speech emphasized the successful projects of community internet implemented in Georgia and noted that today internet is available in 24 villages of the Tusheti Region and 4 valleys, as well as the Pshav-Khevsureti Region and Gudamakari gorge. The Deputy Minister thanked all the parties, donors and participants involved in the implementation of the project and noted that the project would make a significant contribution to the improvement of the social and economic situation of the people living in the valleys.

The Deputy Minister also drew attention to the construction of a 200 kW power plant near the village of Shatili, which, after it starts operation, will play an important role in the development of the region and improve the electricity supply of the local population. At the same time, according to Nikoloz Alavidze, the mentioned hydro power plant will contribute to the sustainability of the community internet network in the region and provision of continuous internet services to the population.

Community internet networks have been established globally for the last few years as a cheap, community-oriented way of providing internet access to the mountainous settlements of difficult geographic and climatic conditions. Community Internet implies an Internet community created by a local community. In this model, the role of the state id in supporting and promoting such projects, including the financial contribution, consultations, co-operation with the donor organizations, etc. The Government of Georgia has supported the development of community internet networks in line with these principles.

“We see how these networks help promote and support tourism, helping people to be informed on the Europe’s most beautiful places. I am sure this will further promote the development of the tourism sector and small and medium-sized enterprises in Georgia,” – the Member of the European Parliament, Tsvetelina Penkova commented.

During the Summit, international and local participants discussed important issues related to the development of the community internet networks, including the technologies, best practices, socio-economic aspects, infrastructure sharing, radio frequency spectrum, etc.

Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia. © 2021