The premier Internet service provider in Armenia, Freenet.am, may be shut down permanently in a matter of a couple of weeks. Freenet.am provides free Internet access and email accounts to users throughout Armenia. It was founded by two of my present coworkers in the late 1990s.
Here’s a brief history taken from the Freenet.am FAQ page:
The Armenian Freenet (ArmFN) was created in the framework of UNDP Armenia Internet Project in 1997. The Internet Project aims to support the development of Internet and information technologies in Armenia. Following the best traditions of the Internet, the ArmFN provides free services to individuals, as well as non-profit, education and research organizations, government and other institutions.
Over the last nine years of service Freenet has acquired 21,832 user accounts and hosts 4,286 Web sites at no cost. As long as you or someone you know has a computer with a dial-up modem and a telephone connection, you are basically ready to use all Internet services provided by the service, including communicating via a free email account. There is one catch however: users can only view Web sites based in Armenia. Thus all Web sites with a .am extension can be viewed, as well as certain .com or .org sites. However, email messages can be sent to anyone in the world.
Apparently the UN no longer wants to host or finance Freenet.am. The office including all its servers, switches, routers and so forth is housed in a small room on the fourth floor of the UN building in Yerevan located near Republic Square. From what I’ve been told the UN administrators have other plans for the Freenet.am office, so basically the project will come to an end unless it gets thousands of dollars in funding very soon to keep it going as well as maintain a new home.
Freenet.am is an excellent, well-maintained, invaluable service and needs to keep going, as most of its users probably cannot afford the cost of connecting to the Internet via an ISP provider. It will truly be a crime if this project shuts down.
If anyone has suggestions or is interested in funding Freenet.am, please send an email to Freenet-Daemon@freenet.am
or leave a comment for this post.