Hope this finds you all well and enjoying the crisp Fall weather!
It’s time for our quarterly newsletter, including: upgrades to our servers including some temporary server outages, a new job posting, details about the recent CRTC wholesale internet decision, and more!
1) Server and email upgrades and outages
Within the past year we purchased three new servers to replace those that were getting too old and, combined with some existing newer machines, are moving to a virtual machine environment. Basically, this means that some of our services like email and our website can more easily be moved to another server if the one it is on fails. This makes our services more resilient, something we take seriously as part of our mandate to provide high quality access.
As part of this work, we need to migrate some services from the old servers to the new virtual environment, which requires some downtime. At the same time, we are improving functionality.
This does not affect our high-speed DSL internet service so you should not notice any issue with your connectivity to the internet in general. We have other resilience measures in place to ensure our internet network.
On Tuesday, September 17th from 11:59pm until 8am the next day, we are upgrading our SpamFilter services. We expect Zimbra to continue working during this time, but it could temporarily delay some incoming messages.
After this change, we expect SpamFilter to be more responsive, but we ask that you forward any spam you do receive in your inbox to email@example.com so we can ensure everything is working as well as possible. Unfortunately, spam is a moving target so we’ll never be able to get rid of it completely, but we do our best to catch what we can using the most up-to-date methods.
On Tuesday, September 24th from 11:59pm until 8am the next day, we are upgrading our web server and so our website may be unavailable during this time. You should be able to check your Zimbra email even if the main website is temporarily offline by using a mail reader like Thunderbird or Outlook/Windows Mail, or by going to mail.ncf.ca to access it via webmail.
On Tuesday, October 8th from 11:59pm until 8am the next day, we are upgrading our Zimbra server and so Zimbra email will be unavailable during some or all of this time. Once complete, this will not affect the way your Zimbra email account looks or behaves. You will still be able to log into the StartPage during this time.
As always, if you are experiencing issues please contact the HelpDesk at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 613-721-1773 ext. 0
2) We’re hiring! Bilingual Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator
We LOVE our volunteers! They’re a longstanding part of what makes NCF special, including being able to spend more time helping our members with their computer and internet questions. And we would like to recruit more volunteers for the HelpDesk, the FrontDesk, to offer workshops, and other opportunities to ensure true digital access across the region.
Thanks to funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Official Language Support Program, we have the opportunity to hire a full-time Bilingual Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator to help recruit and train new volunteers and support current volunteers. This position will also help run our public outreach and social media in both official languages, including a campaign on internet safety.
In 2015 we were recognized with a Volunteer Ottawa “VOscar” in the best non-profit volunteer program category. We want to build on that success! Please consider applying or forward it to someone you think might make a contribution to our work.
Application deadline is Monday, September 23rd at midnight. Full details available at: www.ncf.ca/jobs
3) CRTC lowers wholesale rates!
NCF is a service-based Internet Service Provider, buying wholesale access to Bell’s DSL network, investing in capacity to ensure high quality connectivity, and making it available to our members with staff and volunteer support.
This wholesale access is regulated by the CRTC (the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission) and includes tariffs, which are the maximum amount that network providers like Bell, Rogers, Shaw, Telus, Videotron and others can charge those, like us, who buy wholesale access to their networks.
Happily, after reviewing the current tariff rates, the CRTC decided to drop them on August 15th of this year. And they made these changes retroactive to March 2016, when they last set interim wholesale rates. You can read the details here: https://www.canada.ca/en/radio-television-telecommunications/news/2019/08/crtc-promotes-competition-for-broadband-internet-services-by-setting-lower-wholesale-rates.html
Given our mandate to keep prices as affordable as we can, while still staying sustainable, this will enable us to review our current prices and we’re pretty excited about it! We are also proud that since we started selling high speed internet in 2005, we have only changed our prices three times, often dropping them while increasing capacity.
That said, the big telecom network providers can seek leave to appeal the CRTC’s decision to the Federal Court of Appeal. Until this process is resolved, we’re preparing what will be possible given different outcomes, and hope to update you more soon!
4) Welcome Toufik and thanks to our summer students
Our new Bilingual HelpDesk Analyst, Toufik Zaoui, started with us mid-August and is quickly getting up to speed!
Toufik recently moved to Ottawa from Algeria, where he worked at the Directorate of National Transmissions in Medea.
He has a degree in electrical engineering and speaks English, French and Arabic – so he’s actually our new trilingual HelpDesk Analyst. You can see a picture of him grinning ear-to-ear on our Facebook page. Welcome Toufik!
And thanks to all our summer students: HelpDesk Analysts Michelle Cantin and Luke Deschenes, Public Education Support Rami Hilan, and Web Programmer Davoud La Jeune. You all did great work! And thanks to the Canada Summer Jobs program for supporting your work here.
5) Thank you!
As always, thank you for being an NCF member. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions.
If you’re experiencing any service issues, please contact the HelpDesk by replying to this email, emailing email@example.com or calling 613-7221-1773 ext. 0 and leaving a voicemail or speaking to one of our HelpDesk Analysts.
National Capital FreeNet/Libertel de la Capital nationale
206-1305 Richmond Rd.
(613) 721-1773 ext. 1001