Alternative Network Deployments. Taxonomy and characterization

Document Type Replaced Internet-Draft (gaia RG)
Last updated 2015-10-14 (latest revision 2015-01-21)
Replaced by draft-irtf-gaia-alternative-network-deployments
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This document presents a taxonomy of "Alternative Network deployments", and a set of definitions and shared characteristics. This term includes a set of network access models emerged in the last decade with the aim of bringing Internet connectivity to people, using topological, architectural and business models different from the so-called "traditional" ones, where a company deploys the network infrastructure for connecting the users, who pay for it. Several initiatives throughout the world have built large scale networks that are alternative to the traditional network operator deployments using predominately wireless technologies (including long distance) due to the reduced cost of using the unlicensed spectrum. Wired technologies such as Fiber are also used in some of these alternate networks. There are several types of such alternate network: networks such as community networks are self-organized and decentralized networks wholly owned by the community; networks owned by individuals who act as wireless internet service providers (WISPs), networks owned by individuals but leased out to network operators who use such networks as a low-cost medium to reach the underserved population and finally there are networks that provide connectivity by sharing wireless resources of the users. The emergence of these networks can be motivated by different causes such as the reluctance, or the impossibility, of network operators to provide wired and cellular infrastructures to rural/remote areas. In these cases, the networks have self sustainable business models that provide more localised communication services as well as Internet backhaul support through peering agreements with traditional network operators. Some other times, networks are built as a complement and an alternative to commercial Internet access provided by "traditional" network operators. The present classification considers different existing network models such as Community Networks, open wireless services, user- extensible services, traditional local Internet Service Providers (ISPs), new global ISPs, etc. Different criteria are used in order to build a classification as e.g., the ownership of the equipment, the way the network is organized, the participatory model, the extensibility, if they are driven by a community, a company or a local (public or private) stakeholder, etc. According to the developed taxonomy, a characterization of each kind of network is presented, in terms of specific network characteristics related to architecture, organization, etc.


Jose Saldana (
Andres Arcia-Moret (
Bart Braem (
Leandro Navarro (
Ermanno Pietrosemoli (
Carlos Rey-Moreno (
Arjuna Sathiaseelan (
Marco Zennaro (

(Note: The e-mail addresses provided for the authors of this Internet-Draft may no longer be valid.)