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Addressing sustainability in rural connectivity: A case study of Gram Marg community-led networks

This report10 discusses the Public-Private- Panchayat Partnership (4-P) model developed and validated on the ground for its sustainability in villages where connectivity has been enabled through our project. We also discuss how the 4-P model is implemented in Gram Marg villages and generates revenue, thereby making it a sustainable model. Currently this model is working successfully in the villages in the Palghar district of Maharashtra, where internet connectivity has been enabled by Gram Marg. The first part of the report gives a short overview of Gram Marg community-led networks. In the second part of the report, the development and validation of the sustainable 4-P model will be discussed. The final section highlights relevant policy measures needed for the adoption of a sustainable model in rural connectivity.

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Towards Frugal 5G: A Case Study of Palghar Test-bed in India

There is an ongoing transition from the fourth generation (4G) cellular standard to the fifth generation (5G). Amidst this transition, addressing the connectivity needs of rural areas is still a distant dream. In this article, we discuss the connectivity requirements of rural areas and also present a network architecture based on these requirements. Low energy, low mobility, and large cell are the key aspects when designing a broadband network for rural areas. We refer to this network as the Frugal 5G network. We discuss two testbeds that we have deployed in India based on the Frugal 5G network architecture. The first testbed spanning 7 villages studies the feasibility of providing high-speed connectivity to rural areas via TV UHF band. The second testbed has been scaled up to 25 villages and studies the feasibility of connecting the rural areas by employing IEEE 802.11 (5.8 GHz) technology. Deploying such a large-scale network requires efficient planning which has also been discussed in the paper. Sustainability of the rural broadband network is an important issue and has been addressed by proposing a multi-stakeholder partnership model. Insights obtained from these testbed deployments suggest that for connectivity to be sustainable, network planning, use of renewable energy, local support & community participation, and efficient business model are the cornerstones that should be adhered to.

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TV White Space Solution for Affordable Internet in India

In addition to providing an efficient technology solution, it is important to ensure that there is a sustainable return-on-investment for the service provider and an affordable subscription price for the end user. This drives the need for a sustainable economic model. We propose a model which ensures active involvement of GPs who will eventually promote and sustain the broadband. Such a model is referred to as the 4P model, i.e., Panchayat-Public-Private-Partnership model, which is a self-sustainable model.

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Shrinking Spaces: Status of Freedom of Assembly & Association in India

Tis research report tries to establish the relationship between the freedom of association and assembly offline and online, and analyses how they intersect and influence each other. It further identifies legal challenges, laws, policies, and the manner in which state and non-state actors regulate Internet rather than following inherent principles of free and open Internet to bring equal freedoms in all forms — expression, speech, association and assembly. Tis report explores and analyses India’s position on various freedoms and governance mechanisms to understand how it affects the freedom of association and assembly online.

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MSBC: A compendium of 100+ initiatives in India

This compendium is a compilation of over 100 such mobile-based initiatives around education, health, civic participation, socio-economic development and disaster management well within the central focus of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  We further aim to understand these mobile based interventions broadly into three categories – information & dissemination; monitoring & tracking, and support to frontline workers.

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State of Internet Rights and Freedom in India

The study aims to assist decision makers, civil society organisations (CSOs), telecom regulators, policy makers and national and international human rights and internet rights advocates in assessing the state of internet freedoms in India. Further, the report will help identify policy gaps, recommendation points and key stakeholders who can play vital roles in reforming policies, and may assist in the development of advocacy strategies to reform laws, improve internet governance and policies to protect human rights online and offline. Finally, this research seeks to contribute to understanding of how the internet can help promote and strengthen human rights.

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Kept in the dark social and psychological impacts of network shutdowns in India

The paper is a continuous effort of Digital Empowerment Foundation’s (DEF) comprehensive research to understand the social and psychological impact of network shutdowns (including Internet/data and SMS) on the lives of people. This paper documents on-ground stories and experiences to build a strong and effective case against network shutdowns, with specific focus on the social and psychological impact. The paper has analysed media reports of shutdowns (till August 2017) and conducted interviews in the affected areas of Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir to find the inter-link between Internet shutdowns and their impact on the socio-cultural-economic well-being of citizens.

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