Village network cooperative of Kuhmo

Suomenkielinen yhteenveto: Tämä englanninkielinen versio osuuskuntaa luonnehtivasta yleiskuvauksesta Osuuskunta-palstalla.

Kuhmon kyläverkko-osuuskunta is a village network company, which operates in the north-western part of Kuhmo municipality in Kainuu region, Finland. Kuhmo is a wide municipality with a radius of 40-60 km. It is located at the Russian border on the 64th latitude, which divides Finland in two equally sized parts. The population density of the region is low and it has quite an elderly age structure. The network consists of over 200 households and companies.

The cooperative is a non-profit enterprise, which focuses its efforts on creating well-being for the inhabitants by providing the prime infrastructure of the information society mode of production. It also aims at promoting the operating conditions for rural companies in the area. Village networks are constructed by bottom-up oriented collaborative work, made possible by handicraft skills, earthwork machines and voluntary efforts of the members.

EU and state support has enabled construction of cost-effective fiber networks in conditions where such development and operation wouldn’t be possible in a market-driven way. Once constructed, the network has indeed created markets, where there were none.

While the self-reliant cooperative operates its own networks, the service framework is kept simple. Driven by open source development and automation, the network requires only a small amount of maintenance and administration. These concepts have proven to be beneficial for the cooperative members, who can enjoy advantages of highspeed net communication by paying minimal subscription fees.

Fiber networks are the sustainable and energy efficient infrastructure of the information society. It is, however, dependent on electricity production, prices and transmission quality. Disturbances caused by extreme weather conditions have led the cooperative to invest on energy related efforts. The on-going ’Smart Rural 27’ work focuses on technical research and development of electrical systems, but also on Kainuu’s vulnerable electricity market situation and its socio-economic base.

R&D projects make use of existing village networks and new ones under planning and construction. They include development of energy-efficient machine rooms, a low-energy LoRaWan IoT network and development of a model for resilient village network hubs, serving rural households in village networks with 100% penetration.