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100. Chebucto Community Net and You

By Andrew D. Wright

Welcome to the 100th Mousepad column. For four years we members of the Chebucto Community Net have been happy to share our computer knowledge with our readers.

A registered charitable society, the Chebucto Community Net is Nova Scotia's oldest independent Internet Service Provider. It was set up to help provide access to all on a non-profit, non-commercial basis. Ordinary people from the community banded together to provide service to the community.

We believe that communities grow and prosper with communication. The tools of communication should be available to all regardless of financial resources. It has been our experience that some of the finest, most selfless persons having the most to offer the world at large are among the poorest financially.

Back in 1994 when Chebucto Community Net was founded there was a lot of concern over what's been termed the "digital divide". That would be the divide between the kind of access people with money have compared to the lack of access people with less money have.

These days a lot of things have changed. Dial-up internet access, when it is even an option, is proving too slow for the amounts of data people want to transfer.

Many low income people don't have the landline phone line dial-up access requires. High speed access costs more than many can afford. The digital divide is re-asserting itself, a situation where we all lose out.

Last April the Chebucto Community Net announced a plan to build a high speed wireless network in Metro unlike anything seen anywhere before.

All users would have access to local Halifax websites as well as federal and provincial government websites for free. Full access to the rest of the Internet over a secure Virtual Private Network would be a benefit of a Chebucto Plus membership in the Chebucto Community Net, currently $100 a year or four payments of $30.

The network access would be supplied by Chebucto Community Net and distributed through a network of wireless nodes hosted in peoples homes.

An average size low-rise residential block could be served by three to five nodes. A couple of dozen users can get access from a single node.

A wireless node is basically a rebuilt personal computer that's had the hard drive removed and a couple of 802.11g wireless cards added. Nodes are designed to be plugged in and left alone.

The first area to go online will be within an eight block section of south-end Halifax bordered by South Park Street, Clyde Street, Queen Street and Morris Street.

Subsequent wireless areas will be determined by public demand. There is a form on the Chebucto Community Net website where potential wireless node hosts can sign up. Areas with clusters of nodes would be prime candidates for wireless access.

The Chebucto Community Net does not receive any government funding, it is financially self-supporting through membership fees and tax deductible donations. The people who run it come from all walks of life and volunteers are welcome. Come join us!

Chebucto Community Net:

Wireless project:

The Mousepad runs every two weeks. It's a service of Chebucto Community Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about computing, email or click here. If we use your question in a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.


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Originally published 14 January 2007


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