[An Internet for the rest of us. We can build a collaborative of community organizations, educational institutions, municipalities, publicly-owned utilities (especially those with wireless meter reading capability) which can provide low-cost Internet access and bandwidth independent of the telecoms. We could even include the post office as a high-speed hub for smaller communities, with a public computer in each office.]

Ottawa company provides dial-up internet to 4,000

CBC News Posted: Jan 28, 2012 3:03 PM ET Last Updated: Jan 28, 2012 3:59 PM ET

One of Ottawa's first internet service providers is still in business, offering dial-up service in a broadband world to 4,000 customers.

National Capital FreeNet, a not-for-profit that started in the mid-1990s, says many people use dial-up because they can't get high-speed where they live, only use the web for basic email, or can't afford a faster service.

NCF member Gary Dear is on a fixed income.

"Dial-up is slower than molasses compared to what most people are used to," he said, laughing.

But Dear, who lives in a subsidized apartment, said it's dial-up or nothing. NCF's service costs $5 a month.

"It means an opportunity to connect with life and the world around me," he said.

NCF's executive director, Ross Kouhi, says their small number of staff and volunteers also offer high-speed internet, at close to market prices, to subsidize the dial-up clients.

"The customers that have high-speed tell us they kind of get that warm, fuzzy feeling knowing that we're a member of the community," Kouhi said.

NCF rents the high-speed infrastructure from Bell.

"We're certainly worried that a punitive pricing model, if Bell were to come out with one, could put us out of business pretty quickly," he said.

But Kouhi feels NCF's future looks bright, having just completed a successful fundraising campaign.

In 2010, four per cent of Canadians used dial-up, compared to 79 per cent who used broadband. The rest had no internet connection in their homes.


Low cost internet for Ottawa Community Housing tenants

Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Wednesday, December 21, 2016 5:16PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 21, 2016 7:10PM EST

The digital divide is getting a little smaller for residents of Ottawa Community Housing.

They are being offered low-cost internet services through National Capital FreeNet; a life line to education and employment.

Most of us take it for granted: with a click of a button, we have access to the World Wide Web.

But that access comes at a cost.

Residents in downtown Ottawa say internet is a costly necessity.

“How much do I pay?” says one woman, “Too much!” she laughs.

“I have a high-end package,” adds another man, “it adds up to about $120 a month.”

For many folks living in social housing, that cost has been out of their reach. Until now.

Ottawa Community Housing has teamed up with National Capital FreeNet to offer low-cost internet to its 32-thousand tenants.

“It’s really a tool,” says Stéphane Giguere, the Chief Executive Officer of Ottawa Community Housing, “a tool for education, communication, for employment.”

The program will be launched in January. For $25 a month, plus a modem, tenants will get unlimited access and a window into a world that has shut many of them out.

“I think without exception, every business, every company, every school thinks everybody has internet,” says Bill Robson with National Capital FreeNet, “and everything is tailored to that and unfortunately not everybody has it now.”

National Capital FreeNet is a non-profit internet service provider. A substantial bequest will help fund this low-income program for possibly hundreds of Ottawa Community Housing tenants.

“We're not sure how many will subscribe,” says Robson, “It could be a handful to hundreds. We're a little worried but looking forward to it.”

So, too, are many of the tenants; being part of something many of us now can't do without.

“Could you live without your internet?” an Ottawa resident is asked as he hustles by, doing Chistmas shopping, “No, oh no, not possible,” he laughs.

Tenants with Ottawa Community Housing just need to contact National Capital Freenet at or 613-721-1773 ext. “0” to sign up. It starts January 3rd.
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