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David Wilcox
Prodigy backs start up of community network

International Wireless, which this week bought the online information service Prodigy, is funding the start up of a community network in Beijing and networks in other countries, I learned today from conference participant William Wright.

The Beijing work will be done through William's non profit organisation International Telecomputing Consortium.

International Wireless is targeting developing countries including Vietnam, Latin American, and Africa in its plans for Internet connection and information services.

Further community networks in these countries will be part of the strategy plan - and that means that William is keenly interested in the International Association of Community Networks, launched yesterday at Community Networking 1996.

William told me: "The association could be an ideal way for emerging community networks - such as the one in Beijing - to learn from the past experience in North America and elsewhere and to share experience among themselves."

Steve Snow, one of the instigators of the international association and director of the Charlotte's Web community network, said he thought the possibility of being involved with networks in other nations was exciting. "This is a very big tent, this community networking," Snow said. "Prodigy's interest in community networking only points to the gathering maturity of the concept."