Community wireless networks (CWNs) offer free or affordable Internet access for the purpose of improving the well-being of the community. Many questions have been raised about the ownership, sustainability, and social and economic implications of CWNs. To address these concerns, we propose a conceptual framework that describes the role of social capital in the creation of CWNs. This framework takes into account a number of collective actions and cooperative activities that contribute to the development of CWNs. These actions and cooperative activities include donating money and hardware, volunteering manpower and technical skills, developing open source software for the network, and sharing wireless nodes with peers. We used the collective actions and cooperation construct of the social capital concept to attribute these types of community contributions. We collected data via a survey to support the proposed framework. The primary implication for practitioners is that mobilizing embedded resources in communities can build a common wireless infrastructure for their digital needs. This study is an important step towards advancing this topic as an intellectual stream.