Balancing the Global Through the Local, by Leslie Regan Shade
Sustainability of Community Nets
Funding for community networks varies from system to system and is rarely stable; it can include a pastiche of government funding, grants, in-kind contributions, cash donations, volunteer time, donations of hardware and software from large equipment manufacturers, and sponsorship of modem lines by local businesses and individuals.
Issues of funding and sustainability for community networks are worrisome. It is increasingly difficult to secure government support for community networks in an era of government downsizing, federal and provincial deficits, and widespread fiscal restraint; and private industry has often been reluctant to lend support. Libraries and schools, institutions that support the goals of community networking, are also facing funding woes, and appropriate network training and support is, for the most part, lacking. For instance, in the Province of Ontario, ONIP (Ontario Network Infrastructure Program) which supported the development of network infrastructure projects, including the seed money for many community networks throughout the Province, was cancelled in late 1995 after a new Conservative Tory government was elected. There are, however, good models for sustainability.