> 2. What lessons have we learned about the risks and rewards of creating
> public-private partnerships to expand access to the underserved? Where
> have these lessons been applied, and where have they worked?

Here is an interesting and timely example. K-Net Services is a program
of Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) tribal council in remote "fly-in"
communities of Canada. K-Net is providing broadband network services and
ICT applications (telehealth, education, economic development, community
e-centres) to First Nations in remote regions of northwestern Ontario,
Canada. Over the course of about 5 years, K-Net has gone from a bare
bones ISP to a carrier class broadband network services provider -
aboriginally owned and managed, in some of the most challenging
circumstances that Canada has to offer.

K-Net case studies will be presented at WSIS in Geneva. The case
studies describe lessons learned, challenges overcome and
recommendations for others. A PDF of the case studies is available at
<http://knet.ca/documents/KNet-Case-Studies-Nov2003.pdf> (4.3 MB) The
introduction to the case studies is at
<http://knet.ca/documents/INTRO-KNet-ver.pdf> (657K). A multi-media
version of the case studies, including several videoclip interviews, and
impact statement testimonials is at
<http://smart.knet.ca/kuhkenah_flash.html>. Spanish and French versions
are forthcoming.

I encourage anyone who will be going to WSIS to visit the Canadian
Pavilion, learn more about K-Net, and pick up a CD-ROM with these case
studies. Jesse Fiddler from K-Net will be presenting some of this
material and his stories at some of the different events in Geneva.

What K-Net has achieved in less than a decade in terms of broadband
network and technical infrastructure development is impressive: several
communities have gone from having one phone for 400 people four years
ago, to accessing broadband services from individual homes today. There
are few rural communities in Canada or the world - and particularly few
remote ones - that have experienced such a dramatic transformation in
such a short period of time. At the core of the success is a
fundamental and on-going approach to community-based
planning/implementation and stakeholder engagement in ongoing management
of services which are directed to community social and economic goals.

Public-private partnerships have been an important ingredient. One of
the important lessons from the K-Net experience has been to pay close
attention to the community process that directs technological
development. K-Net has been described as a "mediating organization", one
that works on behalf of communities and ensures that the services they
receive are appropriate, technologically sound, and sustainable. 
Government services are a key customer for this aboriginally owned
network - government benefits by being able to provide improved services
to very remote populations at reasonable cost. By aggregating demand
and network service revenues among various government agencies, the
network is able to meet financial sustainability needs. A key private
sector partnership is with Telesat Canada to assist in delivering
affordable broadband access and services to other remote First Nations
communities across the country via C-band satellite.

Don Richardson, PhD.
TeleCommons Development Group
Stantec Consulting
361 Southgate Drive
Guelph, Ontario
N1G 3M5
Tel: 519-836-6050; Fax: 519-836-2493
Web: www.telecommons.com or www.stantec.com

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