Notes From Hairenik
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.

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3 Comments:
Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...
Hi Garo,

Firstly, Freenet does not offer full internet access. You can only access certain web sites within Armenia and NOT outside. Nevertheless, the email service obviously extends outside the borders of the Republic.

I'd also like to say that from day one, Freenet was never meant to last forever funded by UNDP. In fact, it was extended on a number of occasions by the UN although the initial proposal by Freenet always said it would eventually be self-sustainable.

Personally, I'd like to see Freenet become a registered NGO with a business plan as well, and also offer full internet access rather than just allow users to access site s on local servers.

Could work if the other ISPs don't prevent such a move as they did when Freenet was first set up.

Finally, after pointing out that Katy Pearce never usually follows blogging etiquette by linking to posts on other blogs, she's now trying to save face. Too little too late, Katy.

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
Well I said that Freenet.am provides free Internet access, not full. I stated that Internet access is limited to Armenia as well.

In any case, this project needs to continue. Whether as an NGO or simply a public service sponsored by some organization I don't know. Either way, it needs funding to go on.

Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...
Sorry Garo, didn't see the reference. Too busy fighting Katy's latest attempts to control the Armenian blogosphere in her authoritarian and self-serving way.

Anyway, I would actually like to see Freenet offer full internet access. There has to be a way of doing this and it just might prompt the other ISPs to fight the ArmenTel monopoly.

Besides, a commercial service is always going to be better and less over-burdened than a free one. I'm all in favor of Freenet becoming a self-standing project, perhaps even with a business plan in terms of advertising, hosting, mailing lists, whatever to offset the costs.

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