Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network (AWMN), launched in 2002, is a social, non-profit initiative that aims to connect people and services through the wireless technology in cooperation with educational institutions, state authorities and other wireless communities in Greece. The participation in AWMN’s network is open: it is a network of people for the people. According to its official website “more than 1500 members are already connected and more than 5,000 people have stated their intention to connect in the near future”. AWMN, which relies heavily on FLOSS, works like a mini Internet: “every person can publish a service that would be beneficial to others. AWMN provides a wide gamut of services and resources, but the knowledge and experience someone will gain during the process is invaluable”. I cite here some passages of AWMN’s website (have a closer look at the lessons learned paragraph):
History of the project
“Due to the tremendous problems with broadband services in Greece in 2002 the number of broadband services available to home users was extremely limited. It was mainly due to this problem that AWMN was founded as an alternative broadband network, which allowed its users to experience real broadband services. However after a short period from its birth AWMN started to change. An increasing number of people started to have an interest in the network, expressing their interest in joining this project.”
- To develop technologies based on wireless and digital telecommunications
- To train people in the usage of wireless and digital telecommunications.
- To inform fellow citizens, present and spread the usage of wireless and digital telecommunications technologies
- To promote the idea of providing non-profitable, broadband symmetrical services based on wireless and digital telecommunications, in cooperation with municipalities, organizations, associations, academic institutions and research centers.
- To support and promote the experimental nature of the network
- To spread the ideals of radio amateurship.
“The greatest success in this story, leaving out all the technology, the services and the technical aspects of the project, is to realize and live the effect of individual, non-profit, voluntary work. The size of the network has risen from a handful of enthusiasts and a few nodes to something of an immense size. So much has it exceeded our expectations that standing back and looking at this exponential growth of our community, leaves us with nothing less than joy and a realization that indeed community work and effort can work out solutions to ongoing problems and difficulties. Now we have come to a point where our network of people is something that we live in and for every day. The social and network bonds are so strong that even if this wireless network goes down or becomes obsolete, it is certain that we would have gained knowledge, friendship. We feel this would be enough to make us evolve and adapt to something that might live on for many years, teaching and showing people that communities and especially digital communities are a solution not only to technical problems and to projects with an immense size, but they are also a life raft for our society as a whole!”