Hope this finds you all safe and well. We appreciate our members, and hope you also feel we’re there for you.
This is a long newsletter, but there is a lot going on that we wanted to share. Thanks in advance for your stamina!
If you are having service issues or have a question about billing, please contact the HelpDesk at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 613-721-1773. If you are unable to speak directly with one of our HelpDesk Analysts, please leave a voicemail and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
As a member-driven not-for-profit, National Capital FreeNet has an Annual General Meeting (AGM) where members can review and discuss reports about the past year's activities and our audited financial statements, as well as elect members to the Board of Directors. NCF's AGM has always been online.
This year, voting will run from Wednesday June 24th at 6pm until Wednesday July 1st at 6pm. For more information, go to ncf.ca/agm2020
The Chair of this year’s AGM is Board member Michael Chan. He has started an AGM Discussion Group if you have any questions or issues to discuss and can also be reached directly at email@example.com.
As a community-based organization committed to digital access, NCF believes that everyone in our region deserves access to affordable high quality internet they can understand how to use, while feeling safe online.
But the digital divide is not an equal opportunity problem — it is exacerbated by and exacerbates existing social inequities like racism and poverty. We saw this as we organized Digital Access Day and see it in our everyday work. We also know that tech is not as diverse a field as it should be, that digital surveillance discriminates against communities of colour, and algorithmic bias is a huge problem.
Black communities are disproportionately affected by these issues.
As such, the fight against systemic racism is directly related to our mission.
We need more than words for this work. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about NCF's current practices, or ideas for things we can do as an organization. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can contact Chris Cope, the Chair of the Board of Directors, at email@example.com.
It’s been a long time coming: we’re launching our new front-end website on Monday, July 6th! It is bilingual and mobile-friendly and we hope the only differences you notice are those that make it easier to use. That said, please feel free to send us any feedback, good or bad, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We believe the new site does a good job of showing where NCF comes from, what we offer our members and where we’re going.
Thanks to Dylan Ferris, our System Developer, who did the work to integrate it with our back-end with support from Service Development Manager Will Robson and our System and Network Administrator André Dalle. It is now much easier for all members of our team to use, and will adapt alongside the organization. Thanks to our web development firm Lift Interactive, in Edmonton. Thanks to our beta testers amongst the membership for such detailed feedback. Thanks to the Centre for Social Enterprise Development (CSED) for partial funding for the project through their Uncapped program, supported by the provincial government. Thanks to the previous website, which served us well for many years. And thanks to all our members for your patience throughout this process!
If you’d like to offer a testimonial about NCF services or have suggestions for additional content, please write email@example.com and we’ll be in touch!
We are pleased that Ottawa is starting to be able to ease its COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
As an essential service, we have been open throughout the lockdown. At this time, we can continue to serve only one member (or group of related members) at a time in the office, with space to wait in the hallway.
We have increased the number of staff working at our office, with support from those on our team who are still working from home.
We continue to be busier than before the lockdown and appreciate your patience.
We are also continuing to take precautions to keep all our members, staff and volunteers safe. This includes a plexiglass shield for the front counter, stickers detailing where to safely stand to maintain social distance, disposable masks for staff and members, hand sanitizer and a cleaning routine for all public surfaces, and a lockbox in the lobby stairwell for those who don’t want to come into the office.
All our internet plans have offered unlimited usage since 2017, to encourage members to use the internet freely, without fear of additional costs.
We are offering modem shipping for a reduced rate of $10 and no charge for shipping loaner modems. We have also implemented payment plans for those who may need help to stay connected during this time.
Office hours are Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm and HelpDesk hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.
Please note the office will be closed this Wednesday, June 24th so we can re-organize the office space to allow for more social distancing between staff. And we will be closed Wednesday, July 1st for Canada Day.
You can always find our most updated COVID-19 policy on our website at ncf.ca/covid19
We would like to say goodbye and thank you to two members of our Management Team: Andrew Martey Asare, Service Operations Manager and Will Robson, Service Development Manager.
Together Will and Andrew led a number of important initiatives, including the network planning and monitoring that enabled us to deal with the jump in usage we’re experiencing during lockdown, the new front-end website redesign (coming soon!), and changes to the back-end that made it easier for the HelpDesk to do their work and will also make it easier for NCF to offer new services, like cable internet.
They were tremendously dedicated to working with members, both one-on-one and in pushing for changes that make things better for all members. We wish them well and already miss them both!
We would like to welcome two new members of the NCF team. Sophie Vu has joined as our Summer Bilingual HelpDesk Analyst and Nathan Medema is our new Operations and Development Manager.
Sophie is studying Computer Science at the University of Ottawa. In her spare time this summer she is working on a fitness app and taking classes. She adapted incredibly well to training under lockdown and is now working on HelpDesk tickets from home and the office. Welcome Sophie!
And here’s a word from Nathan:
I’ve been an NCF member since 1994, and have grown with its service offerings from email, to dial-up, and now high-speed DSL on a dry line. I’ve always appreciated NCF’s commitment to affordable internet access as well as its friendly and skilled HelpDesk, and am looking forward to sustaining and strengthening those services for our members.
A longtime Ottawa resident, I come to NCF with a degree in Computer Science from Carleton University. After time at Nortel, Corel, and small local start-ups, I spent a number of years doing web and project co-ordination work in non-profit and governmental arts organizations, before settling into IT and Office Management for the past nine years for CDF Canada, a charity working in international development.
I know I have big shoes to fill with the departures of Andrew and Will and I'd like to thank them both for their work—in the last five years they have laid the groundwork for what we’ll be introducing in the months ahead. I’m also excited about all we have in store.
One member to another, I'm eager to hear any suggestions and feedback you have on NCF’s current services, and what you’d like to see us provide for the future. Feel free to drop me a note anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to join the NCF team? Thanks to funding from the Canada Summer Jobs program we’re hiring Summer Public Education Developers and another Summer Bilingual HelpDesk Analyst.
For more information, go to ncf.ca/careers
The deadline for applications is Monday, July 13th at midnight ET.
To be eligible for this funding, the candidates must be between 15 and 30 years of age, Canadian citizens, permanent residents or person to whom refugee protection has been conferred, and legally entitled to work in Canada.
As part of our commitment to advocate for digital access in our region and across Canada, we joined the Connected Canada Coalition led by OpenMedia and low income rights organization ACORN Canada. For more information, check out: getcanadaconnected.ca
We’re thrilled to join other organizations like the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), the Public Interest Advocacy Clinic (PIAC) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
Together we support the statement: “every person in Canada must have affordable high speed access to the Internet. All levels of government must immediately take steps far above and beyond their current commitments to get everyone online as soon as possible and mend Canada’s digital divide.”
We will keep you posted on more of our advocacy efforts as they develop.
Last August, the CRTC decided to drop the wholesale rates we pay Bell for our internet services, retroactive to 2016. Then in September, Bell and the other major telecom companies like Rogers, Videotron and Shaw decided to appeal the decision to the Federal Court of Appeal, freezing the rates at the old, higher prices while we waited for the case to be heard.
We have been talking about this since it happened as it threatens NCF’s long-term sustainability and is the reason we recently had to raise our prices for the first time since 2017.
The Federal Court of Appeal is now proceeding with a virtual hearing on June 25th and 26th, despite objections from Bell and the other incumbents.
We cannot pretend to know what will come from the hearing, but we are pleased the appeal is moving forward and will keep members posted on the outcome of the case and what it means for NCF, as soon as we know more.
Unwanted spam email messages often attempt to lure people into releasing their personal information, providing access to their computer so it can be used for other purposes, or to send money by offering fake promises. They have been a problem for a long time and have continued throughout the global COVID-19 emergency, taking advantage of people’s fears.
We do our best to screen spam sent to NCF email addresses with either the default Zimbra settings or through our in-house Yellowmail spam filter. But spammers are always changing things up to make it harder to catch their messages.
One of the most common ways they try to get you to click on infected links or download malware is by spoofing — pretending to be your friends or family, your bank, Canada Post or even sending notices that look like they are about your email account with NCF.
If you’re not sure, please be careful before you click something.
We are also currently planning some public education and virtual workshops for the Fall to help our members identify spam and increase other kinds of internet security. Details will be sent in future newsletters and posted on www.ncf.ca/workshops.
As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions about NCF or anything mentioned in this newsletter, feel free to write me at email@example.com.