National Capital FreeNet / Libertel de la Capitale nationale

An Introduction to the National Capital FreeNet

What is NCF?

The National Capital FreeNet (NCF) is a large group of people joining together to share costs and do something good for themselves and their community.

NCF is a not-for-profit community organization that operates internet services and helps people get online in Canada's national capital region (the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau).

NCF was founded in 1992 by people at Carleton University and serves thousands of people in the region.

NCF's Mission:

"The National Capital FreeNet is a free, computer-based information sharing network. It links the people and organizations of this region, provides useful information, and enables an open exchange of ideas with the world. Community involvement makes FreeNet an important and accessible meeting place, and prepares people for full participation in a rapidly changing communications environment."

Who owns NCF?

Not-for-profit NCF is governed by its thousands of members. Anyone can become a member just by registering. Membership is free.

Who runs NCF?

Day-to-day operations are managed by the Executive Director, who coordinates the efforts of staff and many volunteers. NCF's members elect a board of directors (who serve as volunteers) at an annual online meeting of owners. The board of directors sets the general direction of NCF and oversees the Executive Director. Many roles in the organization are filled by volunteers.

Who pays for NCF?

NCF is supported by donations from members and by monthly payments from members for DSL service.

NCF is also supported by organizations in the community, including the Ottawa Public Library, Cisco Systems, and many other supporters. NCF is also supported by many individuals contributing in the office, as board members, helping people online, by writing software, how-to manuals, fund raising, organizing speakers, social events, computer swaps, talks at senior centers, work with school children, helping with public access sites, and more. NCF has also worked with government agencies and non-governmental organizations to help reduce "internet illiteracy".

NCF does not sell its members to advertisers, and is serious about privacy, accountability, and fighting email spam. NCF is controlled by its members.

What does NCF do for its members and our community?

NCF operates reliable internet access (high speed DSL and dial-up) and internet services, such as email and web browsing. NCF organizes help for people new to using the internet. NCF operates a web site that can be used by anyone in the community to host their web pages -- many members and organizations use NCF's facilities. NCF offers email services, such as webmail and POP servers, which is popular with people even if they don't need NCF's internet access services. NCF has discussion groups which provide a medium for people to exchange ideas with people in their local community.

As a member-governed local community organization, NCF is independent and serves only its members. Although there are commercial alternatives, many people prefer to have their email address and web pages associated with not-for-profit independent community organization identified with the National Capital Region.

NCF acts as a "public commons" on the internet for the National Capital Region, where people can freely interact with people in their community and post their views in a personal web page or discussion groups.

How can you get involved?

You can become a member simply by registering online or at any Ottawa region public library branch.

How can you help?

You can help NCF by getting online, helping others get online, telling other people about NCF. The more members NCF has, the less it can cost for each member.