Alternatives to DSL
While National Capital FreeNet does serve the 613 and 819 area codes, we are unable to provide DSL service to every address in the region. This is not a lack of interest on our part, but limitations of Bell's wired infrastructure as presently deployed. NCF's DSL service is delivered over Bell's wiring, so we are limited by Bell's installed infrastructure. This leaves some, mostly rural, areas with no DSL service.
This page will attempt to cover the alternatives available to you if you happen to live in one of those areas where DSL is not available.
There are several cable internet providers operating in the region, including Rogers and Teksavvy. All use Roger's cable infrastructure, so if cable TV is available in your area, then cable internet should be too. You will have to check with those providers to see if your address is served.
- fast connection speeds.
- reasonable cost.
- slows down when your neighbours use their cable.
- often has low caps and high overage fees (Rogers).
- often sold as a bundle with other services you may not want, like TV and telephone.
At least one company Xplornet provides 4G satellite internet service in our region. Some NCF members using this service have reported speeds of about 5 Mbps download and 0.5 Mbps upload, making it comparable to DSL for speed.
- works throughout the region, regardless of location.
- doesn't tie up your phone line (unlike dial-up)
- more expensive than DSL (about twice the price at $64.99 per month).
- high latency due to the distance to the geostationary satellite and back to earth (800 ms has been reported), which may make on-line gaming, VOIP (such as Skype) or other time sensitive applications difficult.
- low bandwidth caps (typically 30 GB per month), but no caps late at night (2 am - 7 am).
- requires purchasing a satellite dish (a two foot dish sold for $299 has been one report).
- severe weather has been reported as causing occasional service disruptions.
There are ISPs in the area that provide wide-area wireless high speed internet.
One of these is goZoom. They offer radio-based internet via line-of-sight on frequencies of 900 MHz, 2.4 or 5.4 GHz and non-line-of-sight services on 900 MHz from fixed, ground-based antennas that cover "Carp, Marathon, Kinburn, Fitzroy, Arnprior, Flat Rapids, Locwinnoch, Glasgow, Horton, Bromley, Sand Bay, Norway Bay, and the Ottawa River Corridor from Arnprior to Castleford." They also have a map that shows their service area.
The goZoom website indicates that their service costs $39 to $69 per month with a $299 to $499 hardware installation fee. They indicate that they offer 2-6 Mbps download speeds for residences with no data caps. Installation may be more expensive if a tower antennae is required.
- fast connection speeds
- reasonable monthly cost
- no bandwidth cap
- Limited coverage area due to antenna geometry
- Installation is expensive and may be much more expensive if a tower is required to achieve line-of-sight
Locations that have cellphone service may have internet service available from the phone companies in your area.
- fairly good coverage throughout the region.
- Company usually provides a USB connection tool (Turbostick, Rocketstick, etc).
- slow connection speed.
- high cost.
- low band width caps and high overage fees.
Most people will find that the cost of cellphone-based internet and its slow speed are deterrents, but it may be economical for just checking e-mail and similar applications, if your usage requirements are light.
Some smaller rural communities have their own local DSL systems set up, such as Landsdowne Tel which serves the Village of Landsdowne. These should work as well as NCF DSL.
The internet started with dial-up and it is still available from NCF for $60 per year. If you can reach Ottawa by telephone then you can get dial-up service, although long distance charges may apply if Ottawa is outside your local calling area.
- works throughout the region, as long as you have telephone service.
- slow connection speed (typically 35-45 Kbps, but certainly no faster than 56 Kbps). Note that 56 Kbps is 0.056 Mbps, about 1/1000 the speed of current typical DSL 50 Mbps service.
- ties up a telephone line when in use.
- only one computer can use a line at a time.
- requires a dial-up modem, which many modern computers do not come with (external USB modems can be purchased locally for about $30).
- Many modern websites are getting more bandwidth heavy with video and other rich media, making the websites less compatible with dial-up. The good news is that many websites have text only or lightweight website versions designed for cellphone users that are very useful for dial-up users too. A good example of this is CBC's text site. YouTube is still going to be difficult, though. Addition hints to make pages load faster on dial up can be found here.
Many people disdain dial-up, but if you only need to check your e-mail and perhaps the news, on-line banking and similar simple uses then dial-up may be just the right match for you. It isn't really suitable for watching videos, on-line gaming or VOIP, though.
All NCF membership accounts include dial-up service. Getting Started (Dial-up) explains how to use it.
While the federal government in the past has made promises about rural broadband, not much has happened on the federal scene and given current priorities it is unlikely to do so in the near future. The Eastern Ontario Regional Network was created by the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus. Their mission is to "provide higher speeds and bandwidth to at least 95 per cent of homes and businesses in Eastern Ontario. The network is being built with the support of federal, provincial, municipal, and private sector partners".
If you don't currently have high-speed internet, this and other initiatives may end up providing service to you in the future.
Move or Don't Move
NCF would never advocate that members move residences to get better internet service, but some of our members have reported that their teenagers have voted in favour of moving to get on DSL.
We have talked to a number of people who have looked at rural estate living, but have decided against it when they discovered that DSL was not available in the proposed new housing development.
This is all just some food for thought if you are considering moving to the countryside - ask about internet service first to avoid being disappointed or have family members disappointed.
Updates to this information
If you are aware of services we have missed naming here, please do let us know and we will update the page. You can put in an office message or call the NCF office at (613) 721-1773. The NCF DSL help desk discussion group is also a good place to discuss alternative services and get members' input on how well they work, costs and other information.
- Computer Help - for general information about getting your computer fixed.
- Dry copper - DSL when you don't have a home wired telephone
- Find out if DSL is available at your phone number
- Sign-up for NCF DSL service