National Capital FreeNet / Libertel de la Capitale nationale

Executive Director's Report

For the year of 2016

This past year was a busy one! Thanks to all the NCF members who reached out to let us know what we’re doing well, where we could improve, and areas where we could potentially offer new services.

Staff and Volunteer Capacity

We continued to improve our response time on all the service tickets opened when members call, leave a voicemail, drop-in, or email us their concerns.

To that end, we officially made HelpDesk Analyst James Ouzas full-time early in the year.

Thanks to a Canada Summer Jobs program grant, we were also able to hire and train three summer students, Jessica Dahanayake, Ryley White and Bowen You.

Then in the Fall, we added longtime volunteer Michael Cayer to the team as the System and Network Administrator Support.

We also welcomed a number of new HelpDesk volunteers.

Finally, we are pleased to have improved our staff benefits program, and offered some of our staff the chance for further training, subsidized in part by the Canada-Ontario Job Grant.

Bandwidth and the wholesale internet market

As noted in the last few years’ ED reports, bandwidth usage is on a steady climb. We suspect this is largely driven by the growing adoption of online video services (YouTube, Netflix etc.) but also shows the growing reliance on internet for all aspects of daily life.

This has meant that we regularly increase our bandwidth capacity so that members can experience the highest quality service. It’s also why, after much analysis, we needed to raise the price of our line rates in May 2016.

At the same time, a continuing shift towards dry lines (now more than half of NCF members use them) meant we equalized the monthly dry line rates to $7.00.

Then in October the CRTC mandated an interim wholesale capacity rate that was significantly lower. This is great news for us because it is in line with our mandate to promote the use of the internet and is what made our May 2017 move to take all our plans to unlimited use for the same price as 350GBs, possible.

As always, thanks to Carleton for hosting our equipment in their Data Centre at an affordable rate, continuing the relationship we built when NCF was founded in 1992.

Future opportunities include making some significant equipment upgrades to keep up with growing usage, deploying the IPv6 protocol to prepare all our members for a changing internet, and working through the upcoming CRTC process that will take the wholesale internet market in Canada from its current “aggregated” form (where we buy service from Bell right to your houses), to a “disaggregated” system where resellers like NCF will continue to buy parts of the service wholesale from Bell, but will also be required to use another means to deliver the service. This will also mean NCF can offer Fibre to the Home service in some parts of Ottawa!

This change is still a few years in the making, but we are working out its implications now so we can continue to offer high quality service to NCF members at very affordable rates.

DSL, workshops and other member services

We continue to grow our DSL membership, ending the year with more than 3000 DSL members and more than 1000 other members.

From the first four workshops we offered in November 2015, we have grown to add the WiseNet track as well as workshops for all NCF members on Windows 10, Maximizing Wifi, Copyright, and more. By member request, we plan to continue and grow our workshops offerings in 2017 and beyond.

We continue to offer modem appointments for configuration and testing.

And, based on member interest, we have been looking into a VOIP offering. We will know more about the feasibility of offering VOIP in the next three to six months.

Community Outreach

We partnered with at least 10 community-based organizations this past year, including working on YWCA's Project Shift ICT Roundtable, offering WiseNet workshops at the computer lab of the Pinecrest-Queensway Employment Services Centre, and speaking at the annual conference of the Centre for Social Enterprise Development.

We also were thrilled in December to launch the Community Access Fund. The first initiative of which was a $25 unlimited use 6mbps plan for all Ottawa Community Housing tenants.

Thanks to all our partners. We look forward to building on existing connections, and doing even more with other organizations.

If you work with an organization where you can see a potential fit for work with NCF, let us know!


2016 was a year of growth for NCF.

Thanks to the NCF staff and office volunteers who regularly go above and beyond for members.

Thanks to the NCF Board: their guidance, feedback, and commitment to the organization makes what we do possible.

Finally, thanks to all our members for your support. Looking forward to celebrating NCF's 25th birthday throughout 2017!

As always, please contact me if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions about NCF and our work by emailing me at

Thanks for your continuing support,
Shelley Robinson,
Executive Director