Chris Conder co-founded Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN), a rural, community-owned, co-operative that delivers affordable 1Gbps symmetric broadband to rural farms in Lancashire, UK. Rural regions in countries around the world suffer from lack of adequate broadband infrastructure. Even where access is available, ability to pay is often much lower in those regions. B4RN empowers communities to develop their own broadband solutions that are faster and cheaper than commercial internet service providers, and the B4RN model has become an inspiration for both not-for-profit and commercial broadband solutions for closing the digital divide in the UK and worldwide. In this livestreamed seminar, Chris will share B4RN’s story – how this thriving community network went from an ambitious idea, driven by a desire and demand for connectivity, to a world-class community-run and community-enhancing internet provider, all while keeping the community at its core. Today, B4RN connects over 5000 homes in rural Lancashire.

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About the series:

The Global Media & Policy Seminar Series is an online seminar series jointly organised between the University of Oxford’s Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy (at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies) and the University of Johannesburg’s School of Communication. The series fosters an international dialogue about pressing issues affecting new media and human rights, particularly at the margins. The speakers in this series tackle issues related to technology and policy across different contexts, including (among others) algorithmic bias and inequalities; misinformation and elections; social media and migration; extreme speech online; community-driven internet access solutions; autonomous and feminist infrastructure; and privacy. This innovative global seminar series uses the power of technology to bridge the geographic and epistemic distance between the global north and the global south – to bring together critical perspectives on new media in context and facilitate a diverse dialogue on the most important questions of human rights, internet governance and our technologically mediated lives.