Formed in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Philly Community Wireless (PCW) is building community-owned and -operated internet infrastructures in order to democratize access, promote digital literacy, and fight digital inequity with free, net-neutral broadband service in North Philadelphia.
We are a collective impact initiative consisting of allied community organizations based primarily in the neighborhoods of Fairhill and Kensington. Over the next two years, we are partnering with residents, nonprofits, and immigrant/LEP communities in Norris Square Park to incubate a new model of community-based network stewardship that can spread throughout the City of Philadelphia.
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If you could build the Internet from scratch, where would you start?
Our members include community organizers, technologists, researchers, and public school teachers. PhillyWisper—a pro-net neutrality, wireless internet service provider—is donating 25 MB/s bandwidth to our network. This free network connection will allow residents of Norris Square to gain access to vital healthcare services, school classes, online marketplaces, and meetings with city council from which many are currently excluded.
If you live outside the Norris Square area and need Internet access, we suggest reviewing the National Digital Inclusion Alliance's resource page on the FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which will begin reimbursing ISPs to provide free Internet to eligible households beginning May 2021.