Country Name

This document is intended as a guide and a template for the country profiles. The goal of the country profiles is to provide anyone wishing to establishing a community network, cooperative, or commercial operator of telecommunications services with a broad understanding of the rules that govern the establishment and operation of these networks as well as what opportunities and obstacles exist.

The page is organised according to the categories that are expected within each country profile. In each category you will find key questions you should be seeking answers to, suggestions of where to find information, and examples of good practice in the various categories from around the world.

The wiki is also designed to capture some of the information as fields in a database that will allow for some comparative analysis across countries. These fields are entered below the wiki in the form fields and are displayed in the wiki page as a variable. Items captured in the database are displayed in a table, as in the above. Database fields can be exported to spreadsheet, CSV, or JSON format.

In each section below, you will see questions you should be asking to find out more
Examples of good practice are identified with a checkmark like this

In each country there are different set of policies that frame and give direction to the telecommunications sector, within which most small operators, and community networks operate. In those policies there might be provision that favor or disable the activities of this operators.

In some countries these provisions might be included all the way in the country constitution, so it is worthwhile to review articles there regarding special rights for indigenous people and other historically disadvantaged populations.

In most countries, the telecoms sector is framed around a Communications, Telecommunications, or ICT Act. Many times this is complemented by other Acts around access to private information, framing the role of the regulator, etc.

Finally, most governments establish the performance targets they want to achieve in the sector in National Plans. Most countries have a Broadband plan, which is worth reviewing to understand the role governments expect from this small operators. Additionally, some times there are reference to them or the future they envision for rural and marginalized communities in broader National Development Plans.

In this section, you should provide links to key policies, acts, or even elements of the constitution that may have relevance for community networks and small-scale operators attempting to address the unserved.

This may include national ICT strategies/plans, national broadband strategies/plans. You may choose to reference adjacent legislation that is relevant to community networks such as universal service strategies/plans, national development plans, SMME policies, education policies. You may choose to excerpt relevant sections of documents in the country profile.

  • Is there any mention to rights of indigenous population with regards to sovereignty over their land and/or the use of other natural resources (i.e. spectrum)?
  • Which mechanisms has your Administration implemented for the provision of telecommunication services/ICTs in rural and remote unattended or underserved areas? (ITU-D 19)
  • Has your country shown progress or taken any action in the instrumentation of regulation to integrate small or non-profit operators to provide broadband connectivity to users in rural and remote areas? If yes, please describe the case and indicate sources for further information. (ITU-D 19)
  • Does your Country have plans to implement any of these measures? If yes, please describe the case and indicate sources for further information. (ITU-D 19)
  • Has your Country considered or implemented regulatory measures to allow small, non-profit or community operators access to spectrum resources and backbone networks? If yes, please describe the case and indicate sources for further information. (ITU-D 19)
  • Has your Country published any studies or statistical information about small and non-profit community operators in rural and remote areas? (ITU-D 19)

Laws and regulations vary from country to country in terms of what sort of license is or is not required to operate a communication network. This can range from no license requirement at all to a range of different kinds of licenses. As a general trend, regulators are moving away from technology or application-specific licenses to more generic licenses that accommodate a range of players and services. Under a unified licensing regime, an operator is permitted to provide any type of communications service that is technically capable of providing. This matches the trend to communications technologies and services trending towards having internet protocols as their underlying protocol.

This trend is known as a unified licensing regime and while the ultimate end of unified licensing might be a single type of license, the most common formulation of unified licensing is to have one license for infrastructure (the physical assets e.g. cables, base stations, routers, earth stations, etc. that make up the network) and a license for services (bandwidth services, packet switching, VoIP, steaming media, etc delivered over the network). Somewhat confusingly there is no common standard for how these two license types are named. Some regulators further subdivide the 'services license' into an 'application service license' e.g. internet and 'content service license' e.g. streaming media.

New technology has blurred the boundaries for some of these licenses. Inexpensive WiFi equipment is technically “infrastructure” but doesn't often fit well under the license definition of infrastructure that was created with national networks in mind.

Another key criterion for licensing relates to whether the operator is providing commercial services to a third-party. Commercial operators are the most common kind of licensed operator. However, there are also private networks that engage in the self-provisioning of services. This type of operator provides services to its constituency. This might be a corporation operating a national network connecting their offices. It might be a cooperative or a non-profit community network that offers local that self-provides it own capacity.

License may also be broken down according to the turnover generated by the organisation.

Another type of organisation is one that owns communication infrastructure but which does not operate the infrastructure. This might be a commercial company that trenches fibre but does not “light” it. It might be a municipality that invests in ducts and fibre infrastructure or even just ducts but does not operate a network themselves. It might also be a non-profit organisation such as the foundation which holds infrastructure in commons for its members but which does not itself operate a network. Typically none of these require a license from the regulator as they do not operate a telecommunications network. However they may require other licenses such as way leaves / rights of way, etc.

The above licenses may all be national in scope or they may have both a national and a sub-regional version. Sub-regional versions of the above licenses are intended to be less onerous both administratively and financially for the operator and facilitate a more granular approach to service delivery.

Finally, there may be license exemptions that are available for any of the above categories based on specific criteria such as operating as a not-for-profit or providing services to underserved regions.

The technical and administrative requirements for licenses vary from country to country but typically requirements may include some combination of:

  • proof of incorporation in the country
  • proof of duly registered office and permanent address
  • details of shareholders and directors
  • proof of local ownership/investment
  • proof of tax compliance
  • network design
  • business model

Different licenses may have different types of requirements.

A table is often useful to break down the fees associated with different kinds of licenses. This might look like Kenya's:

or Uganda's

  • Has your Administration considered specific licensing mechanisms that facilitate the deployment of broadband services in rural and remote areas? (ITU-D 19)
  • Does your Country have licenses to attend specifically underserved areas, such as rural operator license, social license, small operator license, community operator license, etc.? (ITU-D 19)
  • Is there a specific license for the provision of services in remote or underserved areas in your Country? (ITU-D 19)
  • What kinds of operator licenses are there? Unified? Technology agnostic?
  • Are there licenses for small operators?
  • Do ISPs have specfic licenses?
  • What kinds of organisations qualify for license exemption?

The electromagnetic spectrum is the medium used by wireless technologies to transmit and receive information. Different parts of this spectrum are defined to be used for specific purposes. This decisions are made at the World Radio Conference (WRC) which is organised by ITU-R and which happens every four years. The outcome of the WRC is the ITU Radio Regulations which is a binding international treaty governing the use of the radio spectrum.

(Maybe something about regions?)

Governments incorporate those regulations into their National Frequency Allocation Tables or National Frequency Plans, which is the first document to consult in order to understand which services can be used in each band. In most cases, for each band governments include both the reference to the Radio Regulation which describe the specific of this band, as well as the National Regulation describing the details of the use of that band in the country.

(Maybe an example of this?)

In addition, for most of the spectrum governments assign the use of an entire band or blocks of it to particular organizations. This assignment can be of national, regional, or even smaller scope (for a given are or a point to point link), and tend to be for a particular period of time. There also different ways of assigning parts of the spectrum. This can be done via auctions, where the best bidder wins; reservation, where the interested party requests the government its use. In both cases the organization usually pays fees to access this spectrum which vary from country to country, and, in most cases, from band to band. The payment of these fees grants the organization exclusive use of that spectrum and, in exchange the authorities must ensure other organizations do not interfere with them in that block. We will referred to this spectrum in the sections below as Licensed Spectrum.

There are bands which are not assigned to a particular organization for a period of time, and access to them is more adhoc, with organizations interested in using it organized themselves via technological means, or otherwise. There are two main ways in which this takes place and we go into them in more details below, referring to them as License-exempt and Secondary Use, respectively.

In all cases above, the spectrum can be used for two very distinctive purposes, regardless of the mechanism used to access it: access and transport. The first one refers to the use of the spectrum for users or end devices to communicate; and the latter for its use by the devices carrying those communications to the other end. Often times, the same spectrum can be used for both, but in the classification used in this wiki refers to its most common use. There are cases where its use is common for both access and transport, and so the band will appear twice, as in these cases the technical, and even administrative requirements, will vary for each of them.

The technical and administrative requirements for each modality of accessing spectrum (licensed spectrum, license-exempt spectrum, and secondary use) as well as for each of the uses it can have (access and transport) will vary and should be included in detail below. As a departing point, this section should include a reference to the most up to date National Frequency Allocation Tables or National Frequency Plans (they get renewed almost every year in most countries).


Something about interference here… and the need to regulate!

Access Networks

Most of the licensed spectrum that is available for access it is used for mobile telephony and data, and tends to be referred to as International Mobile Telephony (IMT) bands.

The main reason to understand how access to IMT spectrum takes place in your country is because we acknowledge that the best way for universal access to occur is for communities to operate this spectrum where available.

In some cases a band is not fully allocated and we could convince the government to create set-asides for social use. Other times the band is fully assigned to operators but unused in given areas (normally rural and sparsely populated ones). In yet other cases, the band has not been yet assigned which allows for engagement with the authorities for set-asides earlier on. The aim for this section is to provide a view on the possibilities available in that regard.

For some countries, we have been collecting some of this information, and it is available in this website: For your country the idea is to enable a link each of the bands in the table below, so when clicking it shows the chart with the information.

Issues 800MHz 900MHz 1800MHz 2100MHz 2600MHz 3500MHz
Band assigned?
Assignment method
Fully assigned
Primary use by CN?
Secondary use by CN?

Rows in the table:

  • Has this band being assigned in your country?: Yes/No
  • Method of assignment?: Auction / Reservation / D.N.A.
  • Is there spectrum yet to be assigned is this band: Yes / No / D.N.A.
  • Are there reports of spectrum assigned but not used in an area? Yes / No / D.N.A.
  • Can it be used by community networks and small operators? Yes / No / D.N.A.
  • Indicate the community networks and small operators using them? Org name / D.N.A

[For each of the answers where the answer is yes, please provide a link]

[In the case there are community networks using it, please describe the process followed to do so by others]

[There are different mechanisms to “provide evidence” to answer question 4, if you have the knowledge that this is the case. One is by checking the maps provided by the operators, another one is by reports that you may find in the news. You can also conduct spectrum measurements yourself (a description on how to do this to follow)] Once this spectrum is assigned to one organization, there are technical and administrative requirements associated to it. For instance, the need to meet some universal service obligations as well as some minimum services to be delivered to the final users. Please include here any information you may have here in that regard (even if it comes from a mobile network operator) for reference.

(I can share the ones from Vodacom, MTN, Cell, other in SA for 900 MHz and 1800MHz)

PtP Networks

In most scenarios the use of ISM bands for broadband transport links is sufficient and has all the advantages related to it: license exempt spectrum, highly available low-cost gear, etc. However, there might be places, specially in links going through nodes in crowded highsites, where the use of those bands may be good alternative.

The band considered below, 7GHz and 11 GHz are the most common ones and it below we would like to determine the requirements to using them.

Issues 7GHz 11GHz 24GHz 60GHz
Band assigned?
Assignment method
Fully assigned
Primary use by CN?
Secondary use by CN?

Rows in the table:

  • Has this band being assigned in your country?: Yes/No
  • Method of assignment?: Auction / Reservation / D.N.A.
  • Is there spectrum yet to be assigned is this band: Yes / No / D.N.A.
  • Are there reports of spectrum assigned but not used in an area? Yes / No / D.N.A.
  • Can it be used by community networks and small operators? Yes / No / D.N.A.
  • Indicate the community networks and small operators using them? Org name / D.N.A

[For each of the answers where the answer is yes, please provide a link]

Once this spectrum is assigned to one organization, there are technical and administrative requirements associated to it. For instance, the need to meet some universal service obligations as well as some minimum services to be delivered to the final users. Please include here any information you may have here in that regard (even if it comes from a mobile network operator) for reference.


Access Networks
Frequency Power Limit Transmit Power
900MHz Region 2 only
902 – 928 MHz 2.4EIRP
2400 – 2483.5 MHz 2.4EIRP
5150-5250 MHz 5.1EIRP
5250-5350 MHz 5.2EIRP
5470-5725 MHz 5.4EIRP
5725-5800 MHz 5.8EIRP
PtP Networks
Frequency Power Limit Transmit Power
2400 – 2483.5 MHz 2.4EIRP
5150-5250 MHz 5.1EIRP
5250-5350 MHz 5.2EIRP
5470-5725 MHz 5.4EIRP
5725-5800 MHz 5.8EIRP
  • Point to rules for license-exempt spectrum use?
  • Is registration required for WiFi?
  • What is the process for homologation / type approval?

Agree with 1 and 3, as they apply to all license-exempt bands, not only WiFi, anything on WiFi, would have to go under WiFi.

Then I would add a subcategory for WiFi /ISM Bands and potentially two tables one for access and one for backhaul, so they don't get too crowded. Some bands within wiFi may only be “allowed” for access. Do we want to get into the advantages throughput-wise of using “wider” channels.

In the table I would allow for EIRP, but also for TxPower, and also for some explanations… like increase your Gain by X everytime you reduce your TxPower by Y

I wonder what do we do with 900 MHz, for instance.

Maybe add a subcategory for potential articles or discussions on the expansion of this band?

Maybe add a subcategory on examples in this band (Cns, small operators, and the like)

If we refer to bands, I would call this section mmBand? and would only focus on the license-exempt component of them (in the case of SA there are some, maybe we can use the ones in the Spectrum paper that we have identified to be exempted elsewhere (24.05 – 24.25 GHz, 57 -64 GHz, 64 - 71 GHz, 71 – 76 GHz, 81-86 GHz), I would move 11GHz to licensed…

Frequencies for microwave links outside of 2.4GHz and 5GHz 11GHz 24GHz 60GHz and other

Secondary Use

Access Networks
PtP Networks
  • Information on TVWS or other dynamic spectrum pilots.
  • Pending rules for TVWS




similar to the above I will add subcategory of news items points to a potential change as well as potential examples using this band.

As with the licensing, I would add here another subgatery about compliance and other costs…

For instance, it is here were I would use the USOs. The more I think about it, the more I think that license obligations (including USOs) should be a subcategory of the spectrum licensing framework. At least if we use SA for the prototype, as they are part of the spectrum licenses they receive… I have some as example.

But also the taxes on the benefits of using the spectrum, which was a big thing in the last court case won by Rhizomatica, and that it exists in others. One thing is the cost of getting it assigned to you, and another one the taxes on the benefits from its use… It's a bit like CAPEX and OPEX.

Both here and in the Fees above, we can explore whether a given Administration offer incentives that include lower rates of payment for the use of spectrum when it is to be used in isolated and underserved areas?

Backhaul refers to the source of connectivity for a network. This may be a fibre optic network, a wireless microwave connection, or even a direct connection to a peering point such as an Internet Exchange Point (IXP). While it is not essential for a network to connect to the rest of the internet (community networks can offer local network services), it is the most common scenario.

Increasing demand from internet users for access to streaming media content can dramatically increase the backhaul requirements for a community network or small-scale operator. Whereas a 64kbps could serve an entire network 20 years ago, now network operators may require access to hundreds of megabits per second. This can quickly become the single biggest operational expense for a small network.

Accordingly, it is essential to understand all of the options for access to backhaul networks. A start to this is to find maps of terrestrial fibre optic infrastructure in your country. This includes both the routes of the network as well as the Points of Presence (PoPs) for the network. Fibre optic networks are only accessibly through their PoPs. Accessing this information can be a challenge. Some countries and operators are transparent about their network but they are often more the exception than the rule. Wherever possible include links to or images of maps of backhaul infrastructure and the locations of IXPs in this section.

Fibre optic infrastructure is not the only option for backhaul. Microwave networks are less and less common but also offer an option. Satellite services, while typically the most expensive option, may be the only option for backhaul in remote areas.

In this section of the profile you will also be looking for policies and regulations related to backhaul infrastructure. This may include stated positions by the government or regulator on Open Access. It may include regulations with regard to infrastructure sharing.

Finally, public information on backhaul pricing is available in some countries and it is worth investigating the availability of backhaul pricing information.

to be re-drafted

Internet access is an effect magnifier that can amplify access to education, markets for business, and strengthen and increase social connection. Unfortunately that same magnifying power can amplify negative outcomes. Care needs to be take to understand how access to communication is changing society and in particular gender relations. Any network initiative should take into account disparities in access to, design of, participation in, and control of communication networks. Some places to start with this include looking for gender-disaggregated national statistics on communication network access as well as any research into gender and ICTs in your country. It is also worth looking directly at the communication regulator. Are women equally represented in senior management? Does the regulator have a gender policy and/or strategy? * number of men in senior management at regulator regMen * number of women in senior management at regulator regWomen

Universal Service in telecommunications refers to the policy of providing some level of service to all citizens. Recognising that the private sector cannot be relied to provide services in remote, low-income, and/or sparsely populated areas that may not generate sufficient turnover to match their business models, universal service initiatives were designed to incentivise / subsidence the build-out of telecommunications infrastructure in underserved regions. This usually takes them form of a fund which is created through a levy on existing national network operators as some percentage of their turnover. This fund is sometimes operated by the regulator, or by government or by a semi-independent entity. In particular it would be useful to detail the processes and timing and qualification criteria for accessing universal service funds.

Another way in which universal service policies may manifest themselves is in coverage obligations attached to operator licenses, often to spectrum licenses purchased at auction. You may wish to list them here or in the spectrum licensing section and provide a link/pointer here.

In this part of the profile, you should point to national universal service policies and obligations. In particular, it would be worth investigating whether universal services funds been used to support community networks in your country. If so, how.

Does your Country offer support for local entrepreneurs that are implementing sustainable business models for the development of rural communications, either through the Universal Service Fund or other initiatives?

The International Cooperative Alliance defines cooperatives as an “autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.” Cooperatives can be a powerful organisation model for telecommunications networks, especially in underserved regions. In this section, you should identify cooperative legislation and any associated documentation or resources available to cooperatives. Also, if there are existing telecommunications and/or broadband cooperatives in your country, please link to them here.

This last section is optional and can be used to point to additional national resources or information that is relevant to community networks and/or small-scale operators that is not captured in the above categories.

Coding examples

Within the wiki you can use this special formatting comments to highlight particularly important information, relevant examples or questions that should be asked.

This could be for hints / tips / tricks on finding information, what to look for etc.
A question
A good practice example might look like this
A bad practice to be aware of might look like this
  • country-profiles/guide.txt
  • Last modified: 2019/05/29 11:56
  • by otd_wiki