This draft chapter summarizes my findings. Based on a recent trip to Germany, where vibrant new communities have triggered discussions about what makes the essence of Freifunk, I am suggesting that the future of wireless community networks lies in the notion of the Network Commons.
The previous chapter has delved into some of the bigger implications of free networks in relation to the overall historic development. It has described the overall development as an incomplete paradigm shift, characterized by an ongoing structural crisis of information society. This chapter starts with the question, what makes a network sustainable? On the surface of things it looks like the conditions for growth are better in rural areas, where there are no good alternatives provided by the telecommunications industry. Examples in Spain, Germany, as well as Greece show that there can be successful models that bring together community initiatives with municipalities. This appears to have worked less well in the USA where after a good start in the early 2000s hardly any wireless community networks exist. It seems that the relationship between rich and poor in the US is almost like the relationship between the overdeveloped world and the poor nations of the South. This chapter finishes with a more sustained look into selected projects from the global South.
This chapter starts out with a summary of the achievements of Consume.net, London and then traces the development of this idea, how it was spread, picked up, transformed by communities in Germany, Denmark and Austria. The internationalisation of the free network project also saw significant innovations and contributions, developing a richer and more sustainable version of the network commons through groups such as Freifunk.