Executive Director's Report
For the year of 2007
The internet is playing an increasingly valuable role in many peoples lives, The National Capital FreeNet plays an increasingly important role in the region, not just providing high quality internet services but also ensuring that no one is left behind. It is true that every year a higher and higher proportion of the population is using the internet on a regular basis however it is also true that as the internet has begun playing a more central role in our society those not having access to the internet are being left farther and farther behind. Students are expected to have access to the internet, Government provides services through the internet, health care and commerce are also greatly aided. The National Capital FreeNet was started in Ottawa back in 1992. I am happy to see that fifteen years later we still have a valuable role to play.
2007 was a year of transition for the National Capital FreeNet. We are seeing more and more local residents transition from dial-up access to high speed (DSL) access. This is quite an exciting time for many people as they really start to unlock the potential of the internet with the higher speeds available through DSL technology. Members have benefited from a decrease in the cost of modems and had the monthly bandwidth cap essentially removed (raised to 200GB where the average use is 7GB).
Donations were down from the previous year as more and more members switch to high speed internet access and were not reminded that their support is important. I hope to remind DSL members that their support is appreciated. We aim to keep the price of the DSL service as low as possible but it is hoped that members will 'tip' for the service that we provide.
Volunteers continue to play an important role in the functioning of the FreeNet. In 2007 we have augmented our volunteers with additional staff. As members switch over to high speed internet services there is an increased level of support that is required to ensure that members have the highest quality of connection. Although the support of high speed internet access requires a higher level of training which makes it less suitable for some volunteers, there is still a considerable opportunity to help in other areas.
My vision for the FreeNet is one of a local community organization that provides high quality internet services free of the negative attributes that many associate with commercial telecommunications providers. The FreeNet is helping to make the National Capital Region a better place by helping local residents and their associated organizations enjoy the benefits of the internet. I also see the FreeNet as a place to connect local residents with both the needs and abilities of others. The "members-helping-members" and the "DSL at NCF" discussion groups are more active than ever providing a depth of knowledge that a normal "help" desk would be hard pressed to match. These groups are also key to helping a large number of local residents to find answers to their problems.
Our space in the Trailhead building has proved to be very popular with the members; more visit us each day. For some having the ability to visit a local office and speak to a real person is a great source of comfort.