Mountain Area Information Network

MAIN 2.0 strategic vision rescheduled for Feb. 23

CONTACT: Wally Bowen, 828.255.0182


MAIN 2.0 strategic plan set for Feb. 23 in Asheville

"MAIN 2.0: Next Generation Community Network" will be presented at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23 by Wally Bowen at Pack Library's Lord Auditorium in downtown Asheville. The talk was re-scheduled from Feb. 4, when the library closed due to inclement weather.

Bowen is executive director of the nonprofit Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) and radio station WPVM-LP, 103.5 FM, and is a former member of the N.C. Rural Internet Access Authority.

"Digital convergence, federal spectrum policy, and advances in online social networking have now made possible the next phase in our nonprofit business model for journalism and community networking," said Bowen, who founded MAIN in 1995.

Bowen called this "next generation" community network "a powerful new online organizing and advocacy platform" for local nonprofits and civic groups, plus an "advanced networking platform" for locally-owned businesses and 'green' enterprises.

At the heart of this "next gen" community network, he said, will be MAIN's nonprofit Internet service provider (ISP) operation with mobile broadband capability and sustainable business model.

"Last November, MAIN joined with 'Internet Freedom' groups and high-tech companies to win a 5-0 vote at the FCC to free up vacant TV channels -- our public airwaves -- for unlicensed use by mobile devices," he said. The spectrum in these vacant channels -- called the "white spaces" -- has a range and efficiency capable of delivering high-definition video, Bowen said.

"This historic vote will allow MAIN to offer mobile broadband service, as well as fixed broadband to homes and businesses, and restore our financial sustainability, " Bowen said.

He predicted that MAIN's new mobile broadband capability – which advocates have dubbed “Wi-Fi on steroids” -- will generate sufficient revenue to sustain robust community journalism and social networking platforms to support the work of local nonprofits and locally-owned businesses.

The MAIN board of directors unanimously approved the MAIN 2.0 strategic vision on Jan. 6. Planning and implementation will be directed by seven working groups comprised of area volunteers. Ongoing community input and guidance will be provided by a Community Network Advisory Council with representatives from key nonprofit and advocacy organizations.

Bowen said that MAIN will continue deploying its Wi-Fi City mesh-wireless network throughout Asheville, while planning the rollout of a new “white spaces” network for mobile broadband. Industry watchers predict that the new technology could be available as early as 2010.

MAIN was recently awarded a $100,000 grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and a $22,000 grant from the Media and Democracy Fund to continue its broadband advocacy and to develop community journalism via the MAIN 2.0 strategic vision.

This vision can be previewed at:

MAIN's media reform work included a prolonged effort in the 1990s to create public, education, and government access TV channels in Asheville and Buncombe County. MAIN launched its own low-power FM radio station in 2003. For more information, visit:, or call 255-0182. END