Master Seminar (SoSe 2020): Internet for All

IMPORTANT: Due to the ongoing public health crisis, the seminar will be completely virtual. The first lecture will be published online during the first week of the summer semester (week 17). Please refer to the section "Course organization" for the timeline of course activities!

The Internet has become an essential element of our daily lives, ranging from news and information to business to entertainment to personal routines. At least for those living in urban areas in industrialized countries. However, the majority of the world's population is still off the net. This may have different reasons (which are partly intertwined), including: 1) on the technical side, Internet connectivity being not available or of poor performance; 2) on the market side, Internet access (network connectivity, devices) being not affordable; and 3) on the political side, Internet access being limited by means of censorship.

In this seminar, we will explore case studies from different regions about missing or poor Internet connectivity. We will explore different types of measures (of technical and non-technical nature) to improve the situation on connectivity.

Internet for All is presently a topic of many activities, one of which is the Global Access to the Internet for All (GAIA) Research Group of the Internet Research Task Force.

Lack of Internet access could be attributed to a number of reasons, including (but not limited to) the following. There may be no physical infrastructure such a fixed lines or wireless networks, (stable) electricity, devices to access the network. Reasons for this motivated by the terrain (e.g., remote regions) or the economic situation in an area, or—quite often—a combination of both; but also disasters may create loss of connectivity and/or a strong need for impromptu networks. Sufficient education is also a pre-requisite for participating in the Internet, starting with as simple aspects as literacy. Internet access might also be available but it intentionally blocked or limited as we see with many attempts of censorship, which also limits freedom of speech and hence the value the network can bring.

In our topic areas, we try to reflect the above spectrum and offer seminar topics ranging from technical solutions to measurement-based observations of the status quo to political and economics aspects.

  • Wireless mesh networks for rural and urban environments
  • Alternative networking concepts and local/regional networking
  • Economics and ecosystems
  • Many flavors and aspects of censorship
  • Technology for education and technology for people with less education 


We will provide a list of topics and papers associated with those topics to get started. We expect everybody to find and read further papers and then combine those to provide a synthesis (rather than individual summaries) in the end. Topic choices are not limited to what we have in mind and if you can make a good case for your own topic idea related to the Internet for All you are more than welcome.

(Recommended) course requirements

  • The participants are expected to have taken an undergraduate-level course on computer networks.
  • The topics require solid background in communications and networking technologies, although the wide range of topics allows for varied technical backgrounds.
  • Bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field is required.
  • Ability to write and present in English.

Learning outcomes (study goals)

Upon completion of the seminar, the students will have broadened their knowledge on the current state of the Internet deployment, beyond technological aspects and including business and legal aspects. The students will also become familiar with reading, writing and presenting academic papers in a setting similar to a conference or a workshop.

Teaching and learning methods

  • Written paper, 6-8 pages in English using ACM sigconf template* (70%)
  • Presentation of the paper in English (~30 minutes) (20%)
  • Active participation in the course: participating in general discussion and acting as an opponent to another student (reading the paper and asking questions) (10%)

* Please use the template for conference proceedings (chosen by the sigconf format option). If you are using Overleaf, the template is available here.

Registration for the course

Registration is done using the Matching System of the department: (you have to use the matching system to participate in the seminar!)

Course organization

  • Pre-meeting - 31.01.2020, 9:15-10:00 in room 01.07.023
    • Slides available here
  • First lecture (online) - 22.04.2020, will be published in Moodle
  • Informal meeting (virtual) - 24.04.2020, 10:00-10:30 link 
  • Topic selection deadline - 01.05.2020
  • Feedback round - 01.06-05.06.2020
  • Submission deadline - 07.07.2020 (23:59 PM)
  • Final presentations - 14,16, and 17.07.2020 15:00-17:00 virtual