National Capital FreeNet / Libertel de la Capitale nationale

Graeme Beckett - Candidate

What skills will you contribute to the NCF Board?

So far I've been contributing as an NCF board member for 15 years! I've served on number of committees, overseen eight different Executive Directors and been a former President of the National Capital FreeNet! I'm currently acting as Secretary of the Board.

In April we'll be welcoming a new Executive Director. I'm the longest serving board member with considerable background knowledge of the organization and the various activities the NCF has been involved with. I was a member of the team that initiated our vital cost-saving direct-to-Bell DSL service. Other example activities of contribution and knowledge include NCF's Remote Internet Desktop initiative, Volnet program, seniors and community training, and a number of the CRTC's internet related strategies and rulings.

During my time on the NCF board we've made huge strides in improving our services. When I first joined the Board the NCF only had 14k dial-up service when all the other internet service providers were offering 56k! Today we offer very reliable high speed services with speeds as fast as 50 Mb/s up with 10 Mb/s down. The NCF's office has seen major improvements both in location near the transit station and elevator access for the disabled. The free and easy parking is also big bonus versus the old Carleton University location. The move from our inadequate cramped former offices to our current larger office has provided room for better service with more volunteers, training and importantly, separate and quieter individual rooms to enable development and administration.

What are the most important functions of the NCF for its members?

That the National Capital FreeNet maintain a reliable community based means to access the Internet and provide an alternative Canadian based email service hosted on our Ottawa servers. Having a friendly local office to drop by for support, and offering conveniences such as being able to pick up a loaner modem. Offering straight-forward services and reasonable pricing without reams of fine print, surprises or contracts. Being a non-profit, the NCF can keep our costs low and our members help out other members and local community based groups who would be unable to afford Internet service elsewhere.

NCF's volunteers are also a major function, taking pride in being a part of the organization, helping out and contributing in many aspects, some having moved on from the paid workforce and others learning new skills to prepare to enter the workforce and others in between. We've had so many terrific volunteers over the years!

Why do you want to be an NCF director?

We achieved the goals of my last term, offering several new higher speed DSL packages and a special low cost DSL package made available to our dial-up users.

In my next term I would be monitoring developments at the CRTC on FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises). The segment of the population of National Capital Region who have or will have fibre deployed to their premisis cannot currently have service provided by NCF. When it becomes feasible I'd like to add fibre-to-the-premises to NCF's suite of DSL offerings.

I'd also like to revisit the NCF's DSL offering for dial-up users. It would be beneficial to add more flexibility to our current DSL offering to assist those still on dial-up make the conversion to a sustainable high speed offering. A goal would be an alternate plan that is close as possible to revenue neutral for both for the member and the NCF. I would also ensure those unable to switch to high speed due to location or for other reasons have dial-up that remains an affordable donation based service.

Ensuring we offer reliable, affordable and up to date internet access and introduce a community awareness initiative with our upcoming Executive Director is key to the NCF and key to the NCF's growth. As we obtain greater economies of scale we drive down our base costs and as a not-for-profit those reduced costs are passed on to our membership, not shareholders. In addition to our devoted staff, dedicated volunteers play a big part in the success of our organization, helping out in the NCF office, online and in the community.

Graeme Beckett (aw958)