National Capital FreeNet / Libertel de la capitale nationale Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to commonly asked questions

Who owns NCF?

NCF is a not-for-profit organization owned and controlled by its thousands of members. Anyone can become a member just by registering. Membership is free.

NCF was started in 1992 by people at Carleton University.

Who runs NCF?

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

How much modem connect time do I get?

We don't have arbitrary limits. NCF's resources are yours to use. We don't put limits on how long you can stay connected, how much disk space your email or website can use, etc ... as long as there are resources available for others to use as well.

For example, dial-up access is unlimited as long as there are modems available for others; if all the modems become busy, NCF's modem sharing system gives priority to people with less connect time that day.

What kind of computer and software do I need?

Recent operating system software and browsers are generally better and easier to use than older software, but generally require a better computer. So although it may seem backwards, people new to computers probably are best off with the fairly current equipment and software, because it is easiest to use.

The best way to get started is to find a friend who can help. Once a computer is set up, it's usually easy to use. A friend can help you overcome the set-up phase. Volunteers at NCF can also help -- contact the NCF office.

Who pays for NCF?        

NCF is almost free to run - an average donation of only $5 per month from each modem user and $1 per month from each email-only user covers NCF's cash needs. All NCF members are asked to share the costs of NCF's operation by making a contribution of volunteer time or a donation. Donations above what it costs to cover usage help improve NCF and help those in our community who are less able to contribute financially.

NCF is free of advertising. NCF supports free expression and unhindered communication.

Why is it so cheap?

NCF operates so inexpensively because much of the work is done by volunteers. Volunteer opportunities include activities such as helping new members get online.

NCF is also supported by organizations in the community, and many individuals, who have contributed in the office, as board members, helping people online, by writing software, how-to manuals, fund raising, organizing speakers, computer swaps, talks at senior centers, work with school children, helping with public access sites, and much more. NCF also works with government agencies and non-governmental organizations to help improve "internet literacy".

Do I have to donate?

NCF relies on donations from its members. Volunteering (eg., helping someone get started online) is a valued form of donation. Assistance programs, such as NCF's members-helping-members fund, assist people who cannot afford to donate.

Will NCF pester me about donating?

Once a year, we send email asking members to confirm their continuing interest and to consider making a donation. NCF members as a whole only need to cover NCF costs (NCF doesn't try to make a profit).

We're all members; we don't want to "pester" each other. We just need to pay the bills, as a group.

Can I try it before I donate? Please do. After you've tried it, you'll know more about its value.
Do I have to volunteer?

No, most people support NCF by monetary donations. However, many people find volunteering to be gratifying and rewarding.

What is the National Capital region?

Canada's National Capital region is centred upon the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau. NCF considers its region to include eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

What is a "community network"?

NCF is often called a 'community network' because it is owned and controlled by people living in the region.

Many people enjoy having their email address and web pages associated with a 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.

NCF also works with government agencies and non-governmental organizations to help improve 'internet literacy'.