Internet Service Provider Negotiations

As most of us already know, Chebucto Community Net has recently changed its Internet service provider (ISP). As a member of the team that drafted the request for proposals from local providers, looked over the responses, and eventually decided on the best proposal, I will try to explain a little about the "whys and hows" of the process.

Chebucto Community Net (then called the Chebucto Free Net), originally signed an agreement with NSTN Inc. when we first got off our feet a little over 16 months ago. At the time NSTN was the only ISP in the metro area, so there was no real choice on who to go to for our connection. Fortunately, NSTN was very generous with benefits and price; they provided our Internet connection for much less than it would be for many regular customers.

Over the following 15 months, CCN did very well under the wing of NSTN, but a lot had changed in the metro area over this time. ISPs started springing up left and right, and quite a few during this time had become well established. As the deadline for the original contract with NSTN to expire became closer, the CCN board members decided to issue a public request for proposals for Internet service, in keeping with the nature of the organization and the principles set out in the original business plan.

A committee was formed to look at all the providers out there, and try to find what would be best for CCN and its users. This committee was made up of three board members, and two 'ordinary' members of the Metro*CAN Society who volunteered to help. A mail message was sent out by the board to all Metro*CAN Society members to apply for these positions, and the board chose the two. Representing the board was David Trueman, Renee Davis, and Hugh Wright. Representing the Metro*Can Society, and all CCN members, were Ross Piercey and myself, Janson Forrest.

Now that the team was put together, we needed a plan of action. It was decided to draft a request for proposals (RFP) outlining what CCN was, and what our requirements and requests were from our Internet service provider. These were mailed out to all local providers, and a deadline for responses was set. A copy of the RFP was also posted to the newsgroup '' and input was requested from CCN's users.

Not every ISP responded; those who did not were contacted again to see if they were interested. Some said they were not ready at the time to take on such a big task, and wished us luck and good fortune for the future. We did get three very solid proposals though, one from NSTN, one from Atlantic Connect, and one from ISIS.

After looking over all three proposals, and asking for any clarification when needed from the ISPs, it was unanimously decided by all the members of the negotiating team that ISIS put in the best proposal, in price and support, plus many other factors. A meeting was called with the members of the negotiating team and Baha Baydar from ISIS, to make sure ISIS was able to deliver on their proposal, and to try to work out in advance any problems that may occur with the very difficult changeover from NSTN to ISIS.

As we know, the changeover took place during the second week of October, with more problems than expected, but we can now look forward to smooth sailing. It is important to recognize that we had to make a switchover in service no matter who won the contract as continuation of the status quo was not an option available to us.

Speaking for myself, as a member of the team that helped negotiate and decide the new provider, it was a very professional and interesting process. I was happy to have been a member of these dedicated volunteers at work, helping make CCN the best it can be for all users.

by Jason Forrest, aa114@ccn·cs·dal·ca


Chebucto Connections FEATURE OF THE MONTH
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Last Month: October 1995 Next Month: December 1995