Freenetworks was a virtual cohort of community wireless leaders and organizers. I think it is best explained by a few quotes from two of the member organizations.
Free Networks is a group of individuals and organizations supporting worldwide community network efforts. While none of our affiliate projects are “free”, they do all share these common goals: non-commercial ownership, minimal recurring cost, and self-supporting networks. By collaborating together, we strive to resolve our universal technical, political, and social activities in an open forum. We welcome non-profit, educational, and technological groups to assist this growing worldwide movement. -Matt Peterson BAWUG
What is a freenetwork? A freenetwork is an exercise in telecommunications freedom. A network created by those who use it rather than brought to consumers by business. It is not necessarily ‘free’ as in cost, but more to the point, autonomous and self governing. There is a growing global movement to create these self governing, autonomous systems. Due to the very nature of autonomous systems, many of us focus only locally. This is natural, but not necessarily efficient. We all face social, political and technological issues in propagating these new ideas. Many of these issues, most notably the technical, occur time and time again. Freenetworks.org is a group of individuals and organizations that are committed to facing the social, political and technical issues that occur in the creation of these networks. We believe that through global communication and collaboration, we can work through these issues in a more efficient manner. Freenetworks does not attempt to govern nor to judge, it merely provides a forum. – Matt Westervelt, Seattlewireless.net
Most (maybe all?) of the original community wireless organizers that participated in Freenetworks.org moved on to other projects a long time ago. However the community wireless movement is stronger than ever. The technology has gotten better and cheaper. Resulting in more networks in places where they are desperately needed.
List of Free Networks
Freenetworks.org maintained a central registry of projects who agreed to the Freenetworks Peering Agreement. It is preserved for historical purposes. For up to date information I suggest you look at the list on wikipedia as a starting point. It is the most comprehensive I have found.
The inspiration behind Freenetworks.org can be found my blog post here.