Hope this finds you all well as Spring starts breaking through the end of Winter.
We’ve been facing COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns for more than a year now, but are nearing some return to life as we remember it. Our thoughts go to all those who lost loved ones. Thank you to the frontline workers and everyone else who is taking steps to ensure public safety. We can do this together.
NCF’s latest available COVID-19 Safety Plan is available on our website: ncf.ca/en/covid19/
Part of the changes we have made including moving so many aspects of our lives online: from school and work, to socializing with friends and family, community connections, and core services like applying for much-needed government benefits or attending medical appointments. Thanks for trusting NCF with this important work.
Tomorrow we are joining a coalition of other community groups, advocates and service providers to ask the CRTC and federal government to make concrete changes towards affordable internet.
There are a series of talks throughout the day that touch on different elements of the affordability problem and how best to solve it. I’ll be moderating the panel on the human cost of high internet prices at 1:15pm.
You can check out the virtual day of action and register for the event here: affordable-internet.ca
We are also joining a number of groups, including ACORN Canada, Open Media and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), in sending an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Phillippe Champagne, and the Chairperson of the CRTC, Ian Scott.
In the past, a number of you have asked what you can do. We have a template of a letter you can send your local MP, the Minister of the Department of Canadian Heritage, or the CRTC to ask for change: ncf.ca/affordableinternet.
There is strength in numbers, but there is also strength in stories: feel free to add why internet affordability matters to you. And please feel free to cc me on the letter at firstname.lastname@example.org or forward us a copy of your letter.
You can also amplify our work tomorrow by re-tweeting and sharing our social media posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, using the hashtag #AffordableInternetNow.
We’re proud to be part of this work. NCF has been committed to affordable internet for everyone in our community since 1992. But it isn’t always easy, as reflected in the fact that we recently had to raise prices.
The structure of Canada’s internet system has made for some of the highest internet prices in the world. This includes the wholesale rates set by the Canadian Radio and Television-Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), as well as the policy decisions made by the federal government.
As we have discussed before, the CRTC decided in 2016 to examine the wholesale internet rates and spent the next three years reviewing them in detail. Based on their findings, they mandated a drop the wholesale rates we pay Bell in August 2019, back-dated to 2016.
A month later, before the new rates had taken effect, Bell and the other incumbents including Rogers and Videotron filed three appeals of the new rates: with the Federal Court of Appeal, to the federal government, and back to the CRTC.
The Federal Court of Appeal upheld the original CRTC rate drop. And then just recently, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeals: mobilesyrup.com/2021/02/25/supreme-court-dismisses-incumbents-appeal-crtcs-lowered-wholesale-rates/
The government didn’t overturn the pricing decision but cautioned that the investments of the big telecom companies like Bell and Rogers (who regularly post huge profits), must be protected.
The CRTC is currently re-reviewing the decision it originally took them three years to make. We are now entering the fifth year of waiting for the wholesale rates to drop, still paying the same high prices.
We are also waiting for the CRTC to release details of how NCF and other independent ISPs can gain access to Fibre to the Home (FTTH) technology, instead of Fibre to the Node (FTTN), which is what we currently offer.
This is a complicated issue but it doesn’t need to be. We need the CRTC and the government to make it easier for NCF to offer affordable rates.
Please join us tomorrow if you can. We’ll keep you posted as things move forward. And know that we will continue our work on this issue.
Please join us in welcoming Andres Carranco as our newest Bilingual HelpDesk Analyst!
Andres is transitioning to IT after a career in high performance coaching at the Rideau Canoe Club. He has a Bachelor of Science in Human Kinetics with a minor in Physics from the University of Ottawa, and recently earned his COMPTIA A+ certification as well as the Google IT Support Professional Certificate.
He enjoys riding his bike, skiing, and going to the gym, and can talk endlessly about the different approaches to training.
We also welcome Emmanuel Adenlolu as our new Board Treasurer! Currently working as a Financial Analyst with an organization associated with health standards, he has previously worked with Cooperative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF), Oando Energy Resources and the United Nations Development Programme.
Emmanuel holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA), an accounting designation from Nigeria (ACA) and is a certified professional manager (AMNIM).
Emmanuel loves reading, studying and acquiring information about business, finance and the world of accounting.
In case you missed it, we are working hard to be able to offer higher speed cable services!
After we have finished the changes to our back-end systems, we will test the new service with a beta test in April and plan to make it available to all members by June.
If you are interested in being one of our beta testers, please write email@example.com with “Cable beta” in the subject line.
If you have already written us about this, don’t worry: you’re on the list of interested members! We will be releasing more details soon to all those who have expressed interest.
As part of our ongoing commitment to digital equity, affordability, and community services, we have been examining the possibilities of a community mesh network to affordably deliver Wi-Fi connectivity to under-served communities.
This project is being managed by Andrew Martey Asare, our former Service Operations Manager.
You can hear Andrew talk more about why this work is important in an interview with local community radio station CHUO-FM: canada-info.ca/en/ottawa-equity-groups-work-to-bridge-digital-divide/
Andrew is currently finishing up a feasibility study that we will post online once complete. Thanks to the Social Planning Council of Ottawa for partnering with us on this work and the United Way of Eastern Ontario for funding it.
NCF is a social enterprise, supported by our members through the sale of internet services and donations. Thank you!
We also rely on grants from all levels of government and other funders, like the funding we got from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) to found Digital Access Day in 2018.
As a funder themselves and as part of their commitment to build a trusted internet for Canadians, CIRA recently undertook research in the funding gaps for organizations, like NCF, that are working on digital equity issues.
The resulting report was called “Unconnected: Funding Shortfalls, Policy Imbalances and How They Are Contributing to Canada’s Digital Underdevelopment”. You can access it here: cira.ca/resources/state-internet/report/unconnected
We were then invited to take part in a panel discussion about how philanthropy could help close the digital divide in Canada, organized the Philantropic Foundations Canada. Here’s a summation of what was talked about: pfc.ca/how-canadas-digital-divide-is-holding-back-philanthropy/
Or you can watch the full recording of the workshop here: youtube.com/watch?v=MWUR3wKSztc
If you have a question about a service or billing issue, please contact the HelpDesk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-721-1773 ext. 0.
If you have questions, concerns or comments about anything in this newsletter or other issues related to NCF, please feel free to respond to this email directly. It may sometimes take me a little while to respond, but I will get to it.
Thank you and take care,
Shelley Robinson (she/her/elle)
National Capital FreeNet
206-1305 Richmond Rd.
(613) 721-1773 ext. 1001