National Capital FreeNet / Libertel de la Capitale nationale

Executive Director's Report

For the year of 2010

2010 was a challenging and busy year at NCF. We welcomed many new members, volunteers, office staff and upgraded servers to improve DSL reliability while continuing to serve existing members in the National Capital Region. Revenues increased due to the growth in DSL membership but this slowed in the second half of 2010. The operating expenses exceeded this increase resulting in a deficit of $33K, as compaired to the budget.

The introduction of HST for Ontario residents, fee increase by our Wholesaler and proposed Usage Based Billing (UBB) stretched the resources of the office. The latter also introduced uncertainty regarding NCF members bills and ability to use the Internet. The fee increases meant resources were allocated to billing changes delaying some infrastructure improvements. However, the largest impact was the work required to plan and prepare for the proposed usage limits of UBB. These activities provided an insight into billing errors and highlighted improvements required for operational efficiency when - cancelling DSL accounts, following up on unpaid accounts, billing for static IP addresses, ensuring correct Band allocation for Dry DSL accounts and technician call out fees for DSL dispatches. We have reviewed and updated office procedures, commissioned a new invoice system and Office DSL member page. This is now linked to a new bill reconciliation and auditing system. We implemented these improvements in January 2011 and thank members who have been very supportive during these improvements and bill changes. We are committed to improving the operational efficiency of the office and supporting members via the phone, on-line and in the office.

Donations were down from the previous year as more and more members switch to high speed internet access. We aim to keep the price of the DSL service as low as possible and would remind DSL members that their support with donations is still appreciated so that we can assist others less fortunate, though our dial-up services.

Volunteers continue to play an important role in the functioning of the NCF, in the office, on the phone, aiding registrations, writing documentation, and especially in helping other members by answering technical questions on-line. As members switch over to high speed internet services, an increased level of support is required to ensure that members have the highest quality of connection. We also received generous donations of computers and chairs for the office plus servers for infrastructure improvements.

We have been very fortunate in finding new support staff for the office. Nathalie (full-time) and Meredith (part-time) joined us during the year as we wished Luckner all the best. This transition has been smooth ensuring that many NCF traditions continue.

NCF is a community organization with local support and outreach that provides high quality internet services. NCF is helping to make the National Capital Region a better place by helping local residents and their organizations enjoy the benefits of the internet. 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 . thank you.

Our space in the Trailhead building is popular with members; more visit us each day. For many of our members, being able to visit the people who make their internet services work is a big advantage, whether problem solving or just getting advice. We live here, just like you. We want Ottawa to be a better place to live.

Rowland Few
Executive Director
National Capital FreeNet