Shared Community WiFi Networking Blog From A Toronto Co-op ISP

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Montreal Airport wifi censorship

Looks like Montreal doesn't like Norman Finkelstein- and doesn't want you to be able to read his website if you're waiting for your flight at Trudeau International.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wireless Nomad Shutting Down

Well, everyone: after a very long few months with little communication between members and a growing waiting list, there's some good news and some bad news.

First, the bad news. Wireless Nomad ISP Co-op is closing its (virtual) doors over the next few weeks. It's been fun and interesting and we've met so many great people, and it's hard to let it go. But for a lot of reasons it's time for the project to end, at least in its current incarnation. We really expect someone somewhere to build on the ideas and experiences of community WiFi groups over the last four years and find a model that really works and turn it into something as sustainable as it is special. Meanwhile, free WiFi is all over the place -even Starbucks!-, and 3G devices like the iPhone are making the wireless web a reality.

Second, the good news. We've made arrangements so that all Wireless Nomad members have the choice to transition to a private DSL internet service provider called TekSavvy- in fact, the best private ISP in the country and the company Wireless Nomad has been leasing service from. TekSavvy has good internet service, great tech support, and has been a leader in the fight for net neutrality in Canada. And while it is a private company, they've really gone out of their way to help the Wireless Nomad project in Toronto the and National Capital Freenet in Ottawa serve our communities in new ways. Which goes to show that a well-run private for-profit company can be a good neighbour, both in the real world and in cyberspace.

Wireless Nomad was started with great expectations, and many of them were fulfilled. Along with dozens of other community WiFi groups, we did our bit to help put an end to the ridiculously over-priced WiFi model common in 2003 by providing a useful alternative; we shared our internet connections with thousands of our neighbours for more than four years; and we added our voice to the fight for net neutrality and sensible telecom regulation.

Of course, we all hoped to make Wireless Nomad more than it eventually became, but big dreams are hard to make real. We could talk about all the challenges we faced and all those we overcame, but that can wait- we'll keep the blog going and do a post-mortem over the next few months, when Steve's not in China and I'm not in the Philippines.

For now, let's keep everyone on-line and switched over to TekSavvy unless they opt out, and clean up the remnants of Wireless Nomad with a final meeting in a month or so.

Meanwhile, TekSavvy will be getting in touch to update their billing and subscriber info to complete the account migration and keep things running. They are really great people, and are really helpful. If you need to reach them, the TekSavvy website is, and their toll-free contract number is 1-877-779-1575.

So folks: so long, and thanks for all the internets. It's been a real pleasure.

-The Wireless Nomad Team

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monthly Meeting 7pm December 9th

Monthly meeting coming up on December 9th, 7pm-9pm, at Linux Caffe.

See you there!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

From Michael Geist: Parties' Digital Policy Scorecard

Nobody will ever win or lose an election on copyright or internet policy, but these are important issues and it's good to know where each party stands. Of note from the Wireless Nomad point of view is the Green platform, which actually is in favour of real net neutrality and supports open source software. There's more to government than tech policies (or environmental policies!), but I would argue tech policy has significant and long-term effects on our society and economy, and deserves whatever attention we can spare.

From Prof. Geist's website:

Parties' Digital Policy Scorecard Heading Into Election Day

As the national election campaign launched five weeks ago, I wrote that "the election presents an exceptional opportunity to raise the profile of digital issues." While the economy unsurprisingly dominated much of the political discourse, each of the national parties unveiled platforms and positions that included some discussion of digital policy. With Canadians headed to the polls today, this column offers a scorecard on each party's digital policy positions...

...While the Green party is associated primarily with environmental issues, the party presented a fairly robust digital policy position. It rejected copyright legislation based on providing legal protection for digital locks, called for an end to crown copyright, and provided the most explicit support for net neutrality, noting in its platform that it would prohibit "Internet Service Providers from discriminating due to content while freeing them from liability for content transmitted through their systems."

The party was also the only one to focus on the emergence of open source software. Its platform says that the party will "ensure that all new software developed for or by government is based on open standards" and that it would encourage and support transitions to open source software in government and education.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

More Conservatives = More Bad Copyright Changes

From the CBC:

"The Conservatives are promising to reintroduce controversial copyright-reform legislation if they are re-elected, according to the party's official platform released on Tuesday.

"A re-elected Conservative government led by Stephen Harper will reintroduce federal copyright legislation that strikes the appropriate balance among the rights of musicians, artists, programmers and other creators and brings Canada's intellectual property protection in line with that of other industrialized countries, but also protects consumers who want to access copyright works for their personal use," the platform document says."

While I don't speak for Wireless Nomad or our members on this point, I, for one, hope that Stephen "Noah" Harper is tossed overboard next Tuesday with his terrible copyright proposals. (As an aside, it seems to me that Dion is more like Noah, with an idealistic, grandiose rescue plan... while Harper is more like one of the guys insisting that we ignore the crazy ark-builders and "stay the course", even as the storm clouds gather and the unicorns play... BTW, does the Bible even mention the unicorns? Now you see why I do wireless, not preaching. ;-))


Wholesale Internet Bandwidth Prices Keep Falling

Om Malik at reports:
"...Prices on Internet bandwidth continue to fall ...however, there’s a good chance you’re wondering what I’m talking about — after all, broadband service providers like Comcast and Time Warner are talking about putting the meter on the bandwidth they serve up to residential subscribers. What I’m talking about is wholesale Internet bandwidth that is sold to Internet services providers (ISPs) and content companies like Yahoo and Google. This is called IP Transit and it is sold at a rate of “per megabit per second per month” and often requires a monthly bandwidth commitment. Today research firm Telegeography came out with a report that shows the price of wholesale Internet access (IP transit), while varied around the globe, are still in decline. Here are some facts."
Bell and Rogers complain about their lack of network capacity, but 1) there is no internet network capacity shortage; and 2) bandwidth is getting cheaper and cheaper... so why does cable internet now cost about $50 a month, with a 60GB cap, and only about 4x dial-up speed (rather than the advertised 40x) for modern applications like P2P sharing?


Monday, October 06, 2008

New Website supporting open and innovative Canadian internet

While Bell and Rogers continue to throttle everyone's internet connections, a new website called had been launched to advocate for open internet access, universal internet service, and the freedom to innovate online.

Universal service has always been questionable to me, but that's another issue for another day. For now, check out the link below.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Net Neutrality Report released

It's been quiet on the Net neutrality front since the harsh new copyright proposals came to light a few months ago ( and we're killed -at least temporarily- by the fall of Parliament). Now has released a short report called "Fact vs. Fiction".

"Today members of the Coalition released a “Fact vs. Fiction” report that dispels the myths put forward by the dominant Internet Service Providers and demonstrates that an open Internet is the way forward if we want social, cultural and economic innovation in Canada."

LINK to PDF of the Report

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Toronto's Civic Hackers

Toronto's own Citizen Lab hackers in the Washington Post... Read all about it!


Friday, August 15, 2008

Internet Connection Speed Test

Here's a great speed test to check your download and upload rates.


Saturday, August 02, 2008

EFF releases Net Neutrality detector software


The Electronic Frontier Foundation's new "Switzerland" tool can detect violations of Net Neutrality by your ISP:
"The sad truth is that the FCC is ill-equipped to detect ISPs interfering with your Internet connection," said Fred von Lohmann, EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney. "It's up to concerned Internet users to investigate possible network neutrality violations, and EFF's Switzerland software is designed to help with that effort. Comcast isn't the first, and certainly won't be the last, ISP to meddle surreptitiously with its subscribers' Internet communications for its own benefit."


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Internet founder blasts ISPs for hurting national interests

Vint Cerf, who developed the technical principles on which the internet works, has blasted telephone and cable companies for harming national interests by holding investments in their networks to ransom.

Cerf, a long-time advocate of keeping the internet free from control by service providers and a current senior vice-president for search giant Google Inc., told the Silicon Valley Watcher blog that the companies are being childish by threatening to withhold upgrading networks unless they get breaks from regulators.

"Basically, it's like little kids in a tantrum: 'I'm not going to build this system unless you give me three scoops of ice cream and a pony,'" he said in a video posted on the blog on Tuesday. "My reaction to this is quite negative. It's harmful to the national interest to behave in this way because it is serious infrastructure — it's very much like the road ways."


Bell's internet throttling is like reading people's mail, ISPs say

The CBC has an article about the Canadian Association of Internet Provider's final submission to the CRTC in the Bell throttling issue: WN is not part of CAIP, because it costs money to join. However, we support much of their work and are pretty well in the same boat.

"Bell Canada Inc.'s slowing of internet speeds is the equivalent of the post office opening people's mail and deciding when they should get their letters, a group of small service providers have said in their final volley at the company.

The Canadian Association of Internet Providers, a group of 55 companies that rent portions of Bell's network to provide their own broadband services, made its last plea Wednesday to regulators to force Bell to end its speed throttling.

In November Bell started using deep packet inspection (DPI) technology to identify what its customers were using their internet connections for, then started slowing peer-to-peer (P2P) applications such as BitTorrent.

The company extended the practice to CAIP members in March, which prompted the group's complaint to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in April.

In its submission on Wednesday, CAIP said Bell's defence for throttling — that the company is only slowing P2P downloads, which still get to the user "eventually" — is discriminatory and anti-competitive."


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Not Wireless-related-- Job Posting from my Day Job

Lots of Wireless Nomad users and members are tech people, so this might be of great interest to someone. It's not wireless or co-op related, but here goes...
Who: Phoenix Geophysics is a Toronto-based company that designs and builds geophysical exploration equipment. We've been around more than 30 years, have almost 50 people on our team, speak more than a dozen languages in our office, and work all over the world.

What: Develop and maintain a great user interface for our geophysical software.

When: Application deadline is Wednesday, August 6, 2008, 8 p.m. EST., full-time work starting as soon as possible.

Where: At the Phoenix office in Toronto, Canada (Victoria Park Ave. & Steeles Ave.)

Why: To make our existing software easier to use and make new software to let our users do more.

How Much: $50,000~$75,000 CDN per year to start (depending on experience), plus good medical and dental benefits, three weeks vacation per year, and employee profit sharing when times are good (there was a 15% bonus in 2007).


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Beautiful New Server (Finally, some good news...)

Beautiful New Server

A couple weeks ago, Steve and Ron spent the better part of a Saturday installing a beautiful new server at a new hosting facility in downtown Toronto. The server was generously donated by another Wireless Nomad member, and gratefully received as a welcome and needed upgrade to the previous hardware (thank you, Anonymous!).

While the processor is only a Pentium III, its three main advantages lie in 1) the hot-swappable hard drives that will make future repairs much easier, 2) the dedicated hardware RAID controller that will make the hard drive disk access much faster, and 3) automatic synchronization when a replacement hard drive is installed in the case of a failure. The processor is also upgradable, should it become heavily loaded as Wireless Nomad continues to be used more and more by people across the city.

All in all, the new hardware is very graceful, and much more powerful and reliable than what we had before.

The new server hosting facility is also much better, with the new Wireless Nomad server in a cooler, easier to access location. We also have much better on-demand access to our server in the case of a problem, which was something we did not have before without significant difficulty. There is also a technician on-site that can do tasks like hard drive swapping and checking cables as required, which will help reduce downtime in the case of any hardware problems.

-the Wireless Nomad team

Sunday, June 29, 2008

WN's Direct IP Address

As posted below in a response to Michael:

"The direct IP seems to help get at WN's site, but caused additional problems for other websites. Not sure why, but that's what happened when I tried it myself.

But, for the intrepid, try

It will get you the website, but maybe nothing else."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Servers OK, DNS Propagation Delay

Good morning, all!

As most of you are now aware, the Wireless Nomad website and WiFi login are currently inaccessible to most people. The telephone system and e-mail system are both functioning without difficulty. DSL Internet is also working without any general problems for everyone, so if you simply plug into your router, you should be able to get online without any difficulty.

The website and WiFi login will be inaccessible for some users for up to 72 hours. Many users (hopefully all) will have access to the website and WiFi login before then.

The reason for this disruption is an error in the DNS switchover to the new server.

While the new server is functioning properly (and is wicked fast compared to the old ones!), the server’s new IP address is not yet properly associated with the domain name. This means that while the Wireless Nomad server and website are working properly, many people cannot see them on the Internet because the address of our website has not been properly updated.

There are approximately a dozen “DNS servers” that perform this address and name association for the entire Internet, and different users will use different DNS servers at different times. Each of these DNS servers will update with the proper information on its own schedule. There is nothing we can do to accelerate this process, and it will happen automatically without our assistance.

As soon as each DNS server updates its association list, any user connected to that DNS server will again be able to direct their web browser to and receive access to our website and WiFi login.

While the exact source of the error is not certain yet, it appears to be on the part of our previous server hosting provider. With the installation of the new server in a new co-location hosting facility, we will have no further dealings with the provider or facility that is likely the cause of this disruption.

Sorry for any inconvenience resulting from this growing pain. Please remember, your Internet is still working, even though the WiFi and website are inaccessible to some users over the next little while.

Thanks for your patience,
-the Wireless Nomad team

Friday, June 27, 2008

Servers down temporarily- we're on it

Hello all: sorry, the servers are down temporarily as of 3:27pm, 27 JUNE 2008.

Steve and Ron are on it: will update everyone as soon as we have more info.

Hopefully things will be back up soon. In the meantime, you can always access the Internet by plugging in to your router's ethernet ports: while the WiFi is affected by the server outage, the DSL internet is not.

More soon,

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bell Canada's confidential network data reveals that P2P congestion isn't really a problem

Bell's been screwing with our internet connections for the past couple of months, even though all we rent from them is access to the copper phone lines that were built long ago... Cory explains the latest development pretty well over on BoingBoing:


Bell Canada has been forced by the CRTC (Canadian telco regulator) to reveal exactly how congested its network is. This follows revelations that Bell has been slowing down P2P traffic -- even traffic on its wholesale customers' networks, so no matter who you buy your DSL from, Bel gets to ruin your P2P experience.
The confidential documents show that, basically, Bell just doesn't have a substantial congestion problem -- in fact, backbone congestion has been going down.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Gov't Pushes for Computer and Internet Controls to Appease Record and Movie Industries

From BoingBoing:

"Canadian Industry Minister Jim Prentice loads the DMCA, aims it at Canada's temple, and pulls the trigger"


Here it is, folks, at long last: Industry Canada Minister Jim Prentice is about to introduce his Canadian version of America's disastrous Digital Millennium Copyright Act tomorrow. In so doing, he is violating his own party's promise to seek public consultation on all treaty accession bills, he's ignoring the cries of rightsholders, industry, educators, artists, librarians, citizens' rights groups, legal scholars and pretty much everyone with a stake in this, except the US Trade Representative and the US Ambassador, who, apparently, have had ample opportunity to chat with the Minister and give him his marching orders.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cable: deregulation good for consumers; Ars: like heck it is

"If the last 10 years have taught us anything, it's that the cable industry in the US is focused on openness, innovation, and customer satisfaction; but if we can't keep the government's knuckleheaded regulators out of our cable lines and off our Internet, cable's nearly absurd level of innovation will be throttled down more effectively than BitTorrent uploads on Comcast's network. Well, so says the cable industry, at least."


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Prentice's Staff Scrubbing Copyright Controversy From Wikipedia Entry

From Prof. Geist's Blog:

Wednesday June 04, 2008

While Industry Minister Jim Prentice has sought to project an air of unflappability around the outcry over the Canadian DMCA, it would appear that behind the scenes his staff is working overtime to eliminate any negative comments on Wikipedia. Prentice's Wikipedia entry has been anonymously amended multiple times over the past week with regular attempts to remove any copyright criticism (as I post this there is no reference to copyright).


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Canadian DMCA will take $500/download from your kids' college fund

Canadian DMCA will take $500/download from your kids' college fund

Cory sez:

"More word on Canada's version of the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which Industry Minister Jim Prentice is rumoured to be ready to release tomorrow: it will include a $500/download fine, which means that if your kids download a couple of $0.99 singles without paying for them, the American labels will be able to take $1,000 out of her college fund (and those are Canadian dollars, still worth something on the international market)."

From Prof. Geist's blog:

"Some sources say that it comes as a result of Prentice's concern that the Conservatives could be tied to huge damage awards against teenagers for peer-to-peer file sharing. If that is indeed the case, it is not clear how this provision will solve that concern. While there are still many questions about this provision (does it target downloading or uploading? does it exempt sound recordings covered by the private copying levy? is the $500 a set amount or a maximum? is it per infringement or cover all activity? does it require actual evidence that files made available are downloaded?), consider a case involving 1000 song files, not an unusually high number. The "retail" value of those files is roughly $1000, yet on a per infringement basis the Prentice proposal could lead to a damage award of $500,000. Even small scale cases would lead to huge awards - 50 songs could lead to a $25,000 fine. Ironically, the prospect of huge damage awards comes as Canadian musicians and songwriters have both rejected lawsuits against individuals. If Prentice hopes that the provision reduces the concern associated with file sharing lawsuits, this move may actually have the opposite effect."


More Copyright Rules Coming Soon?

Online Rights Canada (ORC) has an online "email your MP" system up and running-- pretty cool, and a good way to let your MP know what you think about the impending new copyright rules.

"The Day Before the Copyright Bill?
The rumours have begun again: that Jim Prentice will introduce his long-delayed Copyright Act reform this Wednesday. Let your MP know you're watching closely, with our new Copyright For Canadians letter to Parliament!"

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Net Neutrality Petition

Here's a link to the website and the petition to explain to our government that "Net Neutrality in Canada is the principle that consumers should be in control of what content, services and applications they use on the public Internet."

(13,500 signatures at the time of this posting!)

LINK to the Petition

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Net Neutrality Campaign Website

" is a coalition of citizens, businesses, and public interest groups fighting to protect our Internet's level playing field. We're calling on lawmakers and industry to protect openness, choice, and access for ALL Canadians — and stopping lobbyists and special interests from ruining Canada's Internet."


Gov't wants into your laptop

From an article on An update on ACTA, a new trade-related law that Stephen Harper's federal Conservatives are trying to get in place. ACTA would let border police seize and search iPods for what they think might be infringing content, and would try to force ISPs hand over subscriber info without requiring a search warrant.

Published: Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"OTTAWA -- The federal government is secretly negotiating an agreement to revamp international copyright laws that could make the information on iPods, laptops and other devices illegal, according to a leaked government document.
The deal could also force Internet service providers to hand over customer information without a court order."


Internet protesters to descend on Ottawa

"Hundreds of protesters are expected to descend on Parliament Hill on Tuesday to urge government action on keeping the internet free from interference by service providers...

Protesters will urge Industry Minister Jim Prentice and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to enact rules that prevent ISPs from discriminating between different types of traffic, and to force more transparency from the providers. They will also ask that ISPs be forced to provide the speeds they are offering and discontinue their throttling practices."


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Crazy WiFi Detector T-Shirt

"The glowing bars on the front of the shirt dynamically change as the surrounding wi-fi signal strength fluctuates. Finally you can get the attention you deserve as others bow to you as their reverential wi-fi god, while geeky chicks swoon at your presence. You can thank us later."


CRTC Refuses to Grant Injunction to Stop Bell Throttling

An actual ruling on the merits of the application is still pending, but the CRTC has refused to provide interim relief and stop Bell from throttling our connections until then. Really disappointing, but I can't say I expected a whole lot from the regulator that didn't actually head this off in the first place, which they should have done by making net neutrality a clear requirement for essential internet services.

More later...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Info Sheet to Print Out and Give Away

Finally, an easy way to help grow the Wireless Nomad network!

1) Download the .jpg info sheet/flyer

2) Print it out as many times as you want (preferably in colour!)

3) Give it to friends and neighbours, or leave a few at a local store or cafe

4) Sit back and watch community WiFi and subscriber-owned internet bloom this spring!

-the Wireless Nomad Team

Yes, we know the info sheet ain't pretty... if you can do better, please, please do so! We'd love to have some of the more graphically-inclined WN members show their stuff... email whatever you come up with to and we'll be sure share.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

P2P throttling leading to net neutrality showdown in Canada

Mr. Anderson at ArsTechnica posts another insightful update about Bell Canada's attack on independent ISPs like Wireless Nomad. (quoting our application to the CRTC, nonetheless!)

Want to run a server at home? Have a public-access WiFi node? Send mail through Port 25 to your own server? Run encrypted SSH without taking a 90% speed hit? Use torrents or Limewire at the full speed of the broadband you pay for each month?

Then you'd better not get a Bell Canada internet account... and better hope that the CRTC takes action on this soon, and puts a quick end to Bell's attempt to eliminate any competition in the form of the terms of service available to Canadian internet subscribers.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Supporting CAIP at the CRTC against Bell's "Throttling"

22 April 2008

Mr. Robert A. Morin
Secretary General
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N2

Dear Mr. Morin,

Re: An application requesting certain orders directing Bell Canada to cease and desist from "throttling" its wholesale ADSL access services."

1. The Canadian Association of Internet Providers (CAIP) has requested that the Commission direct Bell Canada to cease and desist from "throttling" wholesale ADSL Internet services and in particular, the Gateway Access Service (GAS) wholesale internet service.

2. Wireless Nomad requests that the Commission grant CAIP’s request for an interim order directing Bell Canada to stop "throttling" its GAS service. This order should remain in effect until the Commission issues a decision as to the substantive portion of CAIP’s application.

3. "Throttling" of GAS services by Bell Canada is undermining its competitors in the Internet services marketplace, unduly impairing a system upon which competitors must rely, cripples ADSL by approximately 90% for modern applications that most require significant bandwidth, unduly impairs legitimate communications such as encrypted sessions, and the need for Bell Canada to do so is not substantiated with any evidence whatsoever.

About Wireless Nomad ISP Co-Op

4. Wireless Nomad ISP Co-op is a subscriber-owned high-speed Internet and public WiFi provider operating in Toronto since February, 2005. We resell high-speed Internet service to our subscribers, who in turn provide shared public wireless Internet access using the 802.11b/g “WiFi” system.

5. Our network is built on the basis of collaborative use of Internet resources, open access, and corporate transparency. The Internet connections of our subscribers are theirs to use as they see fit, within the bounds of the law. Wireless Nomad does not alter or interfere with the communications of our subscribers, regardless of transmission protocol, operating system, or content of the communication.

6. Wireless Nomad's commitment to the neutrality of our network has played a significant role in our organization earning a share of Toronto’s Internet services business, despite the market dominance of the incumbent ADSL provider, Bell Canada.

CAIP’s Application Raises a Significant Issue for Consideration by the Commission

7. Wireless Nomad submits that the application by CAIP raises a significant issue for consideration by the Commission. Specifically, it raises the issue of whether or not Bell Canada is providing undue and unreasonable preference for its services, and disadvantage for other providers, which would be in contravention of S. 27(2) of the Telecommunications Act, which states (emphasis added):

27(2) No Canadian carrier shall, in relation to the provision of a telecommunications service or the charging of a rate for it, unjustly discriminate or give an undue or unreasonable preference toward any person, including itself, or subject any person to an undue or unreasonable disadvantage.

"Throttling" Impairs Internet Access of Our Subscribers

8. In our experience, Bell Canada’s "throttling" of GAS services has significantly impaired the Internet access of our subscribers. By discriminating against certain types of our subscribers’ communications, Bell Canada has reduced the Internet access speed of those communications by approximately 90%.

9. At a time when 20-megabit or even 50-megabit home Internet access is becoming commonplace in other developed economies, it defies common sense to reduce our already inadequate 5-megabit Internet connections by 90% for the very applications that require modern high-speed access most of all.

10. Furthermore, in its quest to discriminate against so-called “peer-to-peer” communications, Bell Canada, in our experience, classifies many forms of encrypted communications (including SSH sessions) as potentially “peer-to-peer”, and cripples Internet access for those communications by reducing their speed by approximately 90%.

There is No Alternative to GAS Services for Competitive Access

11. In Telecom Decision CRTC 2008-17, the Commission confirmed that independent Internet providers creating competitive alternatives in the high-speed Internet access market must rely on infrastructure controlled by incumbent carriers such as Bell Canada.

12. In our experience, this is absolutely correct: fibre-to-the-home is costly, and wireless alternatives have significant limitations. In short, there is no technological or economic alternative to the current GAS-based system.

"Throttling" by Bell Canada is Harmful to its Competitors

13. The interference by the incumbent telecommunications carrier in the operations of independent high-speed Internet access providers is highly detrimental to the business interests of said independent internet providers, and to the personal and commercial interests of the subscribers of said independent internet providers.

14. This interference significantly reduces the options available to Internet access consumers. Competition in the Internet services marketplace takes place in more dimensions than brand-name and price. Customer service plays a significant role, as does the type of customer premises equipment provided, as well as the length of service contracts. Also critically important in differentiating offerings by various Internet providers are the terms of service negotiated with Internet service subscribers.

Having Different Terms of Service is a Competitive Tool

15. Critically important in differentiating offerings by various Internet providers are the terms of service -- the policies that an Internet provider has in relation to e-mail transmission, blocking ports, the connection of multiple computers on a home network, the use of shared wireless access devices, total data transfer per month, and whether or not a provider interferes with any communications going across its network.

16. Bell Canada has chosen to have a particular set of policies comprise its terms of service. It blocks Port 25 (outgoing email), limits many types of applications

17. Wireless Nomad, like many other independent Internet providers, has chosen to have a different set of policies comprise its terms of service. This is part of our business model, and it has been a successful one. It is not, however, part of Bell Canada's business model- that is, until Bell Canada began to interfere with our access to GAS services and crippled the Internet connections of our subscribers in such a way as to match Bell Canada's idea of what an Internet provider's terms of service should be.

18. Accordingly, Bell Canada's "throttling" of GAS services is an anti-competitive move that eliminates a source of product differentiation that was popular amongst consumers. To allow Bell Canada to continue its "throttling" will only serve to alienate consumers, undermine independent providers, and reduce competition in the Internet services marketplace.

19. To help preserve competition in the terms of service available to Internet subscribers, Wireless Nomad submits that the Commission should prevent Bell Canada from using its privileged position as an incumbent carrier to eliminate this source of competition.

There Is No Evidence That Internet Access Needs to Be "Throttled"

20. In relation to Bell Canada’s claims about Internet traffic volumes requiring that they interfere with the communications of the subscribers of independent providers, Wireless Nomad submits that, in our experience, our subscribers have been generally satisfied with the speed of their Internet connections given the limited specifications of ADSL as deployed by Bell Canada and the terms of service for which they contracted.

21. In our experience, there is no Internet service "rush hour" problem that needs to be fixed. Demands on the network increase every year, just as computational power, storage capacity, and network bandwidth increase each year. Congestion should be addressed by using faster, cheaper, and better technologies as they become available, rather than relying upon a "build-once, sell over-and-over” strategy.

22. Furthermore, Wireless Nomad submits that, in our experience, there has been no increase in general Internet access speed for any of our subscribers. This fact contradicts the assertion by Bell Canada that the so-called "throttling" of GAS services is required to ease traffic congestion, so as to provide more speed for Internet use is that it does not discriminate against.

23. Given that no additional speed has been experienced by our subscribers while using applications that are not subject to "throttling", and instead our subscribers have found that valuable applications they rely upon daily have been crippled, we submit to the Commission that there is no evidence that "throttling" has anything to do with improving or maintaining Internet access speeds for any type of application.

Ordering Bell Canada to Cease "Throttling" Would be Proportionate, Effective, and Prevent Ongoing Harm to Bell Canada's Competitors

24. Wireless Nomad submits that an interim order by the Commission directing Bell Canada to cease "throttling" GAS would be a proportionate and effective measure that would help support a functioning marketplace for Internet services.

25. Wireless Nomad also submits that its business interests and the interests of its subscribers are harmed each and every day that Bell Canada is permitted to "throttle" GAS services- our position in the marketplace is being undermined, and our subscribers are not getting the Internet service that they pay good money for.

26. For these reasons, and the others discussed above, Wireless Nomad requests that the Commission allow CAIP’s application and order Bell Canada to cease and desist "throttling" GAS services until such a time as the Commission may consider the entire matter on its merits.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

As a public utility, Toronto Hydro Telecom could supply Internet to homes across Toronto

Toronto's wireless network has fallen behind other cities - Comment

March 31, 2008

Andrew Clement
Amelia Bryne Potter

Mayor David Miller's recent request to Toronto Hydro Corporation that it hold off on selling its wholly owned subsidiary Toronto Hydro Telecom (THT) marks a welcome reprieve for what could be a great asset to Torontonians.

In 2006, THT announced boldly that it would bring affordable broadband Internet access to all 1 million households and 80,000 businesses in Toronto.

At the time, it seemed well-positioned to take the lead internationally in providing universal Internet connectivity. THT already operated a 450-kilometre fibre optic network providing data services to many of Toronto's major businesses.

With the recent acquisition of the city's street lighting poles by its sister company, it could relatively cheaply and easily deploy wireless meshing technologies to blanket the entire 600-plus square kilometres of metropolitan Toronto.

One Zone, THT's wireless Internet service, proved to be a resounding technical success. Novarum, an independent broadband wireless consulting firm that tested all the major wireless services in North America, announced that One Zone was by far the leader in terms of speed. It was especially impressed that "this exceptional performance is being delivered in the challenging environment of a dense urban canyon."

However, after one year of operation, One Zone remains confined to just six square kilometres of the downtown core (at $29/month, $9.99/day, $4.99/hour) with little sign of it going any further. Toronto has fallen behind other cities, which are now doing a much better job of bringing the benefits of broadband Internet to their citizens.

Behind this story of raised hopes and faltering promise lie several complexities and missed opportunities. These mainly stem from THT acting as a commercial competitor, in effect, seeking to make a profit from Toronto residents by charging them for access to facilities they already own. Instead, THT could more efficiently and directly provide services of greater benefit to the public.

Operating as a public utility, THT could ubiquitously supply the basic residential Internet service now needed by nearly all Toronto citizens for an average annual household cost in the range of $100.

If funded through property taxes the same way as street lighting, the roughly 60 per cent of households currently subscribing to broadband Internet service would save, on average, $300 to $400 per year.

The cost savings would be even greater, if the envisioned link to the provincial Smart Meter program could go through. It would also enable many of the more than 20 per cent of households that do not have Internet access to get it for the first time.

In addition, a THT city-wide fibre/wireless network could be an important boost to city departments and other civic services that have growing needs for networking, such as education, libraries, police and emergency health services.

Not only would the city's major institutions be better served if linked via city-controlled fibre, as "anchor tenants" they would further reduce the cost of connecting residences and businesses in their vicinity.

Toronto Hydro Telecom faces several technical and business hurdles in achieving this public benefit vision for its wireless and fibre networks, but the most significant challenge may be its governance structure.

THT is treated legally as a private corporation, in which pursuing profit is put ahead of the public interest. This status resulted from provincial reregulation of the electricity industry in the 1990s.

The Tory government of the time required cities in Ontario to privatize their public electricity distribution enterprises and spin off certain company assets, such as telecommunications, into separate, private corporations. One of these became THT. The perverse result is that while the taxpayers of Toronto still own THT, they are, in effect, blocked from using it as a means to directly serve their networking needs.

Toronto Hydro Telecom has the resources and experience to build a broadband network that would serve Torontonians well, but this opportunity has so far been missed because of political short-sightedness.

This could change with strong political leadership at the municipal level and working creatively within the current legislated framework.

An important precedent for this is the way in which Toronto Hydro-Electric, THT's sister company which distributes electricity in Toronto, actively promotes energy- saving measures. Cutting energy consumption runs counter to Toronto Hydro's short-term financial interests but is responsive to strong popular and political pressures to promote long-term environmental sustainability.

A similar approach can be taken for universal, affordable broadband services.

The cash-strapped City of Toronto may still be tempted to sell this asset, but if it were to exercise its current ownership of THT intelligently, the citizens of Toronto would stand to save money and gain a valuable public infrastructure appropriate to this information age.

Andrew Clement is a professor in the Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto, and a co-investigator with the Community Wireless Infrastructure Research Project ( Amelia Bryne Potter is a researcher with CWIRP and the Ethos Better Broadband Toolkit (

LINK to Star article

Wireless Nomad config Project Page

Still in beta, but here's a link to the web-based config system for the Wireless Nomad routers, created by Jorge Torres-Solis (funded by Prof. Andrew Clement's CWIRP). More on this later, this posting is so everyone interested has a place to go and find it.

Thanks, Jorge and Andrew!



Friday, April 04, 2008

Canadians debating net neutrality in wake of Bell throttling

"The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is Canada's version of the FCC, and its acronym is just as vowel-free as its US counterpart. It has been the target of a complaint against Bell's tactics brought last week by the National Union of Public and General Employees. The labor labour union complained to CRTC's wonderfully-named boss, Konrad W. von Finckenstein, and demanded a full investigation.

"These Internet Service Providers are, with little or no public accountability, implementing measures that will discriminate against the use of legal software for legitimate uses," said the NUPGE letter. "This is unacceptable. The potential for violations of the privacy rights of users is clear. The continued silence on these matters by the CRTC and the Canadian government violates the trust the Canadian people have placed in you."

In addition, the Campaign for Democratic Media today launched a pressure campaign of its own called "Stop the Throttler." The campaign targets both Bell and Rogers for traffic shaping, pointing out the many legal uses of a technology that is now being adopted by even the biggest of media companies, such as NBC Universal in the US.

"Big Telecom Corporations should not dictate what Canadians access on the Internet," said Campaign for Democratic Media national coordinator Steve Anderson. "These Internet service providers are discriminating against Internet content and services, without any public accountability. The government needs to take action to guarantee equal access to the Internet for all."


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Bell's 'Throttling' Plan a Threat to a Competitive Net

From Prof. Geist's Blog:

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, Vancouver Sun version, Ottawa Citizen version, homepage version) focuses on the competition concerns raised by Bell's throttling plans. I begin by noting that the CRTC has long acknowledged that Canadians enjoy limited competition for high-speed Internet services. In response, it has supported independent ISPs by requiring incumbents like Bell to provide wholesale broadband Internet service at regulated rates. While it is difficult to price-compete - the Bell wholesale pricing creates an effective minimum price - independent ISPs such as Chatham-based Teksavvy and Ottawa’s National Capital Freenet [don't forget Wireless Nomad, too! -D.F.] have carved a niche in the Canadian market through attention to customer service, innovative bundling approaches, targeted network investments, and community ownership.

Last week, this important piece of the Canadian Internet connectivity puzzle learned that its future viability has been put at risk due to Bell's plans to "throttle" its wholesale services. Last year, Bell began installing "deep packet inspection" capabilities into its network. The DPI capabilities - which allow ISPs to identify the type of content that runs on their networks - did not go unnoticed by the independent ISPs since DPI is also used to "throttle" Internet content by scaling back the amount of bandwidth allocated to particular applications.

While Bell employed these throttling technologies with their own Sympatico customers, some independent ISPs sought assurances that it would not be applied to the wholesale services. Sources advise that Bell responded positively that its plans were limited to its own customers, consistent with its 2003 assurance to the CRTC that it would only engage in limiting bandwidth for wholesale services "in cases of troubleshooting or to protect the network infrastructure from congestion resulting from malfunctioning or mis-configured equipment or malicious hacking."


Friday, March 28, 2008

Sascha Meinrath on Bell's Attack on Independent ISPs

From Sascha's blog:

"Steven Mansour just pinged me about Bell Canada purposefully degrading traffic of independent internet service providers. This is a huge violation of network neutrality and exactly the kind of behavior by telco incumbents that must be made illegal. Michael Geist looks to have broken the story -- I'm sure it'll be coming out to the more mainstream media momentarily."


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

By throttling internet traffic, ISPs are getting in the way of business

From :
How Network Non-Neutrality Affects Real Businesses
Rich Baker 3/24/08

"In their attempt to limit BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer file sharing traffic, some ISPs have unwittingly caused collateral damage to other, unrelated businesses and their users. For example, some Web conferencing providers have seen their services slow to a crawl in some regions of the world because of poorly executed traffic management policies. Since ISPs often deny they use such practices, it can be exceedingly difficult to identify the nature of the problem in an attempt to restore normal service...

...Business and markets cannot thrive when ISPs secretly delay or discard a subset of their traffic. Networks need to be free of secret, arbitrary traffic management policies. Just because an ISP’s network suffers chronic congestion, that ISP cannot be allowed to selectively block arbitrary classes of traffic."

Rest of the article

Canadian ISPs furious about Bell Canada's traffic throttling

Canadian ISPs furious about Bell Canada's traffic throttling
By Nate Anderson | Published: March 25, 2008 - 11:05PM CT

Mandatory DSL line-sharing is a common practice in other developed countries, and was in the US as well until an FCC decision ruled that DSL was an "information service" and not subject to the rules. Line-sharing is what enables much of the competition in other countries and allows small ISPs like Wireless Nomad to thrive in Canada and offer innovative services. But line-sharing has its drawbacks; chief among them, of course, is that without control of the line, an ISP is not ultimately in control of the service it is selling. Canadian DSL resellers learned that lesson the hard way this week as ISPs learned that Bell Canada now runs traffic-shaping hardware even on the lines it resells.

Readers at Broadband Reports noted the issue earlier this week as owners of small ISPs suddenly found that their customers were having traffic throttled, even though the ISPs were vehemently anti-throttling. The problem was compounded by the fact Bell Canada did not apparently tell the ISPs that it was about to make the change. The company has subsequently confirmed the throttling and says it should be fully in place by April 7.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bell Secretly Throttling Wholesale Internet Services?

From Prof. Geist's Blog:

"Internet chat boards are buzzing with concerns that Bell has begun throttling Internet traffic for its wholesale services. In other words, third party ISPs that buy their connectivity from Bell ("resellers") are being left with irate customers who are suddenly subject to packet shaped services. Apparently Bell did not inform their wholesale partners that new network management practices were on the way, leading to a meeting on Tuesday morning to address the issue.

There are several interesting aspects to this development. First, the early online chat included responses from resellers such as Teksavvy indicating that they do not believe in throttling traffic, presumably unaware that Bell was limiting their service. Second, some posters have reported that the throttling has undermined their ability to download the CBC episode of Canada's Next Great Prime Minister, precisely the concern that many predicted when CBC announced its willingness to use BitTorrent for content distribution. Third, customers have been using Google Maps to chart locations that have experienced throttling, a nice use collaborative mapping technologies."


Monday, March 24, 2008

Town of Sebastopol, CA chickens out on WiFI

Meanwhile, in the other CA, bad science leads to bad policy...

Town of Sebastopol, CA rescinds resolution to provide public Wifi

"Dale Dougherty, the founder of MAKE, wrote about the Sebastopol (the town in California where MAKE is published) City Council's recent decision to rescind its earlier resolution to provide public wireless access after it received an online petition with 235 "signatures" that read: "The convenience of this technology does not warrant the increase in radiation and the potential risks to the health of our community."
The effect of the resolution would have been to add a few wireless access points downtown. There are already several hundred in private homes and businesses in town. The same people who oppose public wifi still walk along streets and into buildings where they are invisibly bathing in wifi. Will this small group of people now demand that we outlaw wireless in public areas, just to accommodate their fears?
Now, I don't know that wireless (or electricity) is without harm. I can read the research that does exist and learn more -- if I have the time and reason to do so. However, I do not like the smell of fear, and when people justify actions based on their own fears, I become suspicious that the concern is unwarranted. If it wasn't wifi, it would be flouride. Something is needed to affix to their anxiety"


Canada needs common sense copyright reform


Canada Needs Common Sense Copyright Reform
24 March 20008

"Government opponents have argued that if brought to the House of Commons and passed, the bill would essentially make it illegal to modify, improve, back up or make products that interact with any devices outfitted with a TPM.

So, if you thought all this hoopla around copyright only concerned music and movie downloaders, you might want to think again. The issue could have profound and far reaching affects on IT and the way you do your job.

You don’t believe us? Well just ask Google, Yahoo, Rogers, or Telus, which are just a few of the many businesses that formed the Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright coalition. The group sent its stance on a variety of key copyright issues to Industry Canada last month in the hopes of having their voices heard. Fortunately for those in the IT field, this influential coalition of companies has the right idea with their proposals."


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Network Maintenance Thursday March 27, 2008 from 1200 AM

From our DSL wholesale provider:

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Network Maintenance

"Due to critical network maintenance, there will be a disruption in
service for Ontario and Quebec on Thursday March 27, 2008 from 1200 AM
EST until 0600 AM EST.

During this time, all services may experience intermittent loss of
connectivity throughout the maintenance window.

We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your continued

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Verizon teaming up with P2P companies, Yale, to make file-sharing faster

From BoingBoing:

"Verizon is working with Yale researchers and a consortium of P2P companies to produce systems that make P2P file-sharing faster by redesigning the software to prefer peers in the same city, drastically reducing the cost to ISPs of customers' P2P traffic."


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Free WiFi at the Jeddah Airport, but Censored (no BoingBoing!)

Got some free WiFi internet access at the airport in Jeddah, but can't get onto BoingBoing because it's blocked by the Saudi censors. I guess the 'Boing is just too much fun... :-(

So here, there's lots of WiFi that is "free as in beer", but not "free as in speech"- the opposite sort of problem from the connection issues we have at home in Canada (unless you're using a Wireless Nomad access point!).

Monday, February 25, 2008

Songwriters Association of Canada's Internet money-grab proposal

This is for real... the Songwriters Association of Canada has proposed that the Canadian government force each internet subscriber to give the Association $5 each month because songwriters aren't able to make as much money as they would like to. Not gonna happen... (fortunately!)


Sunday, February 24, 2008

CIPPIC releases short copyright law video

"The Canadian government is expected to introduce copyright legislation modeled on the controversial American Digital Millennium Copyright Act. How will this affect Canadians' everyday life? To explain this issue, CIPPIC has produced a short movie, now available on our website."


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bad ISPs

Azureus has a list of Internet service providers (ISPs) that are known to cause trouble for BitTorrent clients or other P2P clients- Wireless Nomad, on the other hand, encourages subscribers to use P2P apps, because they are really useful.

"The following is a list of Internet service providers (ISPs) that are known to cause trouble for BitTorrent clients or other P2P clients and the reason why. If you are using one of the following ISPs, please consider finding a new, better one."

LINK to Azureus

>LINK to MacWorld net neturality article (part 3)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Liberal MP Karen Redman Wants to Force ISPs to Get a Licence to Offer Internet Access

From Prof. Geist's blog:

"Liberal MP Karen Redman yesterday introduced Bill C-506, the Internet Child Pornography Prevention Act. The bill envisions a new licensing system for ISPs to be administered by the CRTC, with liability for knowingly permitting access to child pornography. The bill also empowers the government to order ISPs to block access to child pornography."

Trotting out the old "we'll do anything to stop child porn" angle, Liberal MP Karen Redman would force ISPs to get a license just so they can connect subscribers to the 'Net. Does she plan to propose a license for book stores next? What about people lending books to friends? Or co-operative users sharing internet connections?


Ridiculous Internet Proposal in the UK

From Ars:

UK ISPs don't want to play umpire to "three strikes" rule
By Nate Anderson | Published: February 15, 2008 - 10:27AM CT

"Lord Triesman, a one-time communist and student agitator, is now the man leading the charge for ISP content filtering and a "three strike and no more Internet" policy. ISPs are not pleased."

Totally nuts.


Apple iPhone's Ease of Use Encouraging Mobile Internet Usage

The iPhone, and the iPod Touch do the best mobile web access I've ever seen. I use my Touch to get web pages and email almost every day, sometimes just because it's more convenient than getting a big old laptop out to just look something up on Wikipedia. For $300, the Touch has been worth every penny so far- and I can't wait to get an iPhone when they are out in Canada (for real, not just the "Pacific Mall Edition").

"Indeed, it appears that iPhone owners are using the internet many times more than their non-iPhone counterparts. Google revealed that there are 50 times more searches originating from the iPhone than any other mobile handset. The discrepancy was so great that Google initially thought it was a mistake."


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Inside Net Neutrality: Protect your privacy when using BitTorrent

"You might think that when you sign up with a high-bandwidth service plan with an ISP, you’ll be able to transfer data at the advertised speeds. Yet that’s not always the case: As we learned in part one of our network neutrality series, some Internet service providers have begun examining their customers’ traffic, throttling back bandwidth, or talking to industry organizations such as the Motion Picture Association of America about the possibility of identifying and filtering out copyrighted material on the network level."

Of course, Wireless Nomad doesn't mess around with subscriber's connections, but not all of you are Wireless Nomad members, sot this article might be useful.

LINK to MacWorld

Business coalition opposes harsh copyright reform

From the CBC website:

"A who's who of powerful companies and business associations have banded together to push for less restrictive copyright reform, driving a stake into the heart of the federal government's argument for its new copyright bill."

Among other things, the Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright is calling for:

-A clause that prevents copyright owners from going after people or companies who circumvent for non-commercial reasons the technological protection measures placed on content. A record label, for example, should not be able to sue a consumer who gets around copy-protection measures in order to transfer a song to an iPod.

-No surcharges on downloadable content. Copyright owners have been pushing for downloads to be considered as "communications to the public," and say they should therefore be subject to an additional fee. The coalition believes such a charge would unfairly double the delivery cost of online music, films, games and other software.

-An exemption for violating copyright as part of legitimate business practices, such as when a broadcaster copies a show for its archives.

-No liability for internet service providers for the actions of their users.


ArsTechnica has a piece as well:
LINK to Ars

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Macworld Takes a Look at Network Neutrality

"Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) acts as a gateway between you and the Internet. It’s the pipeline that allows you to access everything from your e-mail to remote file servers where you back up your important data—not to mention browsing the Web.

But what happens if, instead of a pipeline, your ISP instead acts as a filter? In some cases, that scenario is beginning to play out as ISPs increasingly seem to be moving toward favoring some types of traffic over others."

Filtering content goes against everything Wireless Nomad stands for as an ISP. Each subscriber has a connection, and as far as we're concerned, it's theirs to do with as they wish, so long as that use doesn't unreasonably impair the use of the network by others (but all subscribers have to share their extra bandwidth over the WiFi!).

LINK to Macworld

Monday, February 11, 2008

Rogers Unlimited data plan not so unlimited after all

From ArsTechnica:

"In advertising, superlatives rarely mean what they are meant to. However, there are times when "truth in advertising" gets stretched beyond reasonable limits. Case in point: the introduction of "unlimited" mobile data service plans by network providers such as Rogers' new Unlimited On-Device Mobile Browsing Plan in Canada.

At first glance, the plan seems fairly straightforward: unlimited mobile data and Internet access for a mere extra $7 per month on top of your existing phone plan. However, when you look a little more closely, the "unlimited" deal turns out to be anything but unlimited. There is a limit of 2,500 sent text messages per month, and 1,000 picture or video messages, despite the fact that these too are "data" and should be unlimited. Of greater concern is the fact that the deal only applies to select phones and does not include Blackberries, Windows Mobile devices, laptops using PC cards for mobile data access, or unlocked devices such as Apple's iPhone. The latter is still officially unavailable in Canada, but many wondered if the revealing of this "unlimited" plan was a clue that Rogers was about to announce that they had secured exclusive access to sell the iPhone in the Great White North. This does not appear to be the case at the moment."

LINK to Ars

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Funny story about computer confiscation in Denmark (and open WiFi abuse)

Police in Denmark confiscated the computer belonging to the guy who does the Rottin' in Denmark blog. They accused him of using a stolen credit card to buy stuff online. The blogger explained that he has an open WiFi access point, and that anyone can use it. It took them a long time to figure that out, but they took his computer (and his room mate's computer) anyway.


Students tout WiFi co-ops as alternative to municipal WiFi

Good to see this kind of coverage for co-operative technology ideas and initiatives. As always, though, these things are harder in the States because of the elimination of competitive access to incumbent carrier's networks.

"Many urban areas already have enough WiFi hotspots to create a municipal WiFi service. Students at two universities have come up with an idea to link disparate WiFi networks into city-wide WiFi co-ops."


Thursday, January 24, 2008

GST is now 5%, so Internet Service Costs a Little Bit Less

GST is now 5%, so Internet Service Costs a Little Bit Less

Just a quick reminder -- as a January 1, 2008, GST is only 5%.

Accordingly, Wireless Nomad home DSL Internet service (without any extras, such as a static IP, or dry line) is $36.95 plus 5% GST, for a total of $38.80. This is a $.37 a month savings thanks to the tax rate reduction. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

6000 User Accounts!

A great start to a new year- Wireless Nomad now has over 6000 free WiFi user accounts!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Year, a Renewed Mission

Happy New Year to everyone! Hopefully everyone had an enjoyable and relaxing holiday.

Here’s a news item that caught my eye: a great op Ed in the Vancouver Sun by the electronics retailer Best Buy. Not my favorite shop, necessarily, but every time I go there they manage to upsell me and I end up going home with some great stuff. This piece really helps to point out that at least as many businesses are on the side of “less copyright” as are on the side of drastically increasing copyright controls.

Why does Best Buy care about copyright law? I think that electronics manufacturers and retailers realize that a lot of their value comes from the power their products give their customers -- they're always trying to sell more powerful computers, with more storage, and bigger screens to watch all that copied media. As many others have pointed out, no consumer ever woke up in the morning and wished that it would be more difficult and more expensive for them to watch a TV show on their computer!

Opposing that vision of an open system with computers around the world busy doing what they do best -copying data- are the movie and music companies, who are advocating that we let them lock everything down and basically screw up our computers and the Internet so they can make a buck.

One of the reasons I work on the Wireless Nomad project is that I think that the open system is the better one -- it creates more value, fosters innovation, and reinforces our democratic ideals. Big Internet providers seem to be increasingly getting involved with content companies, and see the potential of using their privileged position in between users and media companies to squeeze some money out of both.

There is a lot of hope that even a little competition in the Internet market will help keep Big Telecom and Big Content in check. That's a Big Task, but as the Best Buy op-ed shows, people supporting the open system model might have a lot more powerful friends than they once thought.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Internet Outage FIXED- 05JAN2008 4:40pm

UPDATE: (4:40 pm) Our rack at the data centre and our servers are back online, once again connected to the outside world. Looks like the worst of this is behind us. We'll do a post-mortem and report back about what went wrong at the data centre and how it affected us here at Wireless Nomad.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend on-line,


UPDATE: (3:44 pm) Servers still down-- technicians on-site continuing to repair problems. A rough estimate is that thousands of computers are affected, if it is any consolation, we're not alone. :-( Will keep everyone posted!

Also, thanks to everyone who called in to report and help with troubleshooting. This time it hasn't helped much, but generally its a really good thing to have a group of members jump on something as soon as possible. Keep the feedback and tips flowing!


Hello all: major malfunction with the data centre-- this time, it's not us or the Wireless Nomad servers, but the data centre downtown itself. Technicians from the centre, our rack-space partner TCCP (namely, Dave Wood), and Steve and Ron are on-site as I write this, and service should be back up in a few hours. Will keep you all posted as soon as I know more.

Sorry for the inconvenience,


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Servers Down Temporarily--FIXED!

The servers are now back on-line.

The Co-op's voice mail will unfortunately be off-line for a few days- please email to get in touch until then.

[Previously: Website and WiFi login are not working-- the servers are having trouble for some reason. People are on it-- will keep everyone posted with new info as soon as it is available.]


Friday, December 21, 2007

December 2007 Wireless Nomad News

Hello, everyone!

It's been quiet over the last few weeks, mostly because Damien has been away, and mostly off-line, so unable to bother everyone with blog posts and e-mails.

New Membership Database System
The "behind the scenes" work continues, however, and the Co-op's back-end database continues to get improved. In fact, by the end of January, the old systems are going to be turned off, and we will be using the new database only for all membership and payment information.

Mostly, that's going to mean that members will be able to keep track of their personal info, bandwidth usage, and payment history, and will make the co-op's daily business easier to do. It also means that all members have to make sure that their phone line information, contact information (including a valid e-mail address) and credit card information are complete and up-to-date in their user profile.

This is a big step for us, and is actually kind of exciting, in a geeky kind of way. Anyone with questions or ideas about how to make things better (or actually able to program in MySQL and interested in helping to hammer out some code as the system continues to add new features) should get in touch by e-mail anytime.

New Members Every Day!
Since the great stories about Wireless Nomad on ArsTechinca and SlashDot a few weeks ago, we've been getting e-mails almost every day from people wanting to join. So many people have been asking to sign up, there are actually more people on the waiting list than actual members of the co-op! This is really exciting, and will be a real opportunity and a real challenge. So, if you have any friends that have been waiting to escape the phone company and get Internet the better way, tell them to get on the waiting list before it gets any longer! (The current wait time is about two months, as a quick estimate).

New WN Router Software and User Interface in the Springtime
Finally, after a long and interesting collaboration with Prof. Andrew Clement and grad students Matt Wong and Jorge Torres-Solis, all from the University of Toronto, the complete overhaul of the Wireless Nomad WiFi router software is nearing completion. You'll hear more about this later over the next few months -- because this is really, really exciting, especially for the more technically inclined numbers. With this new software, all members will have even more control over their Internet connections and wireless networks than before.

That's all the news for now- so please make sure your contact and payment information is complete and up-to-date, and have a safe and happy holiday.

Best regards,
-the Wireless Nomad team

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Wireless Nomad Slashdotted

We've always wanted to be slashdotted, but feared the consequences for the Gentoo servers at Peer1... if WiFi login is a bit slow today, this is probably why!

"Canadian ISP Co-Op Shows Upside of Line Sharing"

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Friday October 12, @10:38PM
from the grass-roots-muni-wifi dept.

Golden Gael writes "The FCC got rid of mandatory line sharing in the US a few years ago, but it's alive and kicking in Canada, and an interesting article at Ars Technica looks at what can happen when there's vibrant broadband competition. 'Wireless Nomad does things a little differently. The company is subscriber-owned, volunteer-run, and open-source friendly. It offers a neutral Internet connection with no bandwidth caps or throttling, and it makes a point of creating wireless access points at the end of each DSL connection that can be used, for free, by the public. Bell Canada this is not.' The ISP has some ambitious plans for the future, including getting involved in WiMAX."

LINK to Slashdot story

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Everyone's Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship

From BoingBoing:

"The Citizen Lab has a new anti-censorware guide, "Everyone's Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship for Citizens Worldwide." The 31-page PDF covers a lot of ground, with material for anti-censorware activists and users, and is very handsomely put together."


Wireless Nomad in ArsTechnica

Nate Anderson at ArsTechnica has done a great piece on our efforts to "Stick it to l'homme"... Access to incumbent carrier's lines is a real hot-button issue in the US, mainly because they don't have it, like we do here in Canada, and the American part of the internet is suffering for it.

The only thing I would add to Mr. Anderson's work is that we're at Linux Caffe by choice, because it's a cool place... OLPCs, Penguins, WRTs, and grilled cheese all in one. And in this case, Wireless Nomad is my father's ISP-- he was subscriber #3, even though he didn't know it at the time!

"Sticking it to l'homme: Canadian co-op forms own ISP"
By Nate Anderson | Published: October 10, 2007 - 11:58PM CT

Not your father's ISP

Some ISPs simply discourage end users from offering WiFi connections to neighbors; most explicitly rule it out in their terms of service. But a small Canadian ISP called Wireless Nomad actually requires it.

Nomad does things a little differently. The company is subscriber-owned, volunteer-run, and open-source friendly. It offers a neutral Internet connection with no bandwidth caps or throttling, and it makes a point of creating wireless access points at the end of each DSL connection that can be used, for free, by the public. Bell Canada this is not."

Check out the full story at:

LINK to ArsTechinica

Monday, October 08, 2007

Mutiny on the Meraki: Google-backed Firm Ups Prices, Changes Features, Requires Ads

It looks like open-source, user-driven mesh networking and WiFi LANs are more relevant than ever. If Meraki (backed by Google) has given in to temptation, there's not much hope for other companies to resist dictating terms to their user base, either.

Glenn Fleishman writes:

"Meraki has changed its pricing and feature model for its mesh networking system, angering early users: Exiting its beta, Meraki has changed its pricing and service model, while requiring the display of advertising and a piece of the action for handling billing. This abrupt change, announced quietly last week, has resulted in a nascent networker revolt. It may be that early infrastructure builders abandon Meraki because to continue expanding networks, their cost structure has gone way up while control has gone way down."


Monthly Meeting this Wednesday!

Monthly Meeting this Wednesday!

Monthly Meeting Wednesday 10 October 2007

What: Wireless Nomad Monthly Meeting!

When: Wednesday 10 October 2007 at 7:00PM-9:00PM
Where: Linux Caffe
326 Harbord Street
Toronto ON M6G 3A4

Thursday, September 13, 2007

5000 Free WiFi Accounts!

We reached a minor milestone on Monday, hitting 5000 free WiFi access accounts around mid-day. It's good to see the system being used so much, 'cause that's what it's there for.

The busiest node on the entire network (most new accounts) is World Class Bakers on St. Clair Ave. W. I guess it helps to have coffee and cookies to go with the WiFi!

Another node at Councillor
Adam Giambrone's
constituency office should also get some decent usage in the next few months, since a better antenna was installed a while back. We should probably get some better usage stats and put them on the web... any web coders wanna volunteer?

The big antenna in Kensington Market probably has the most data traffic... 150GB a month, as of September 13. Any ideas for other super-nodes with big antennas?

Stats page

Monday, September 10, 2007

Monthly Meeting this Wednesday!

Monthly Meeting Wednesday 12 September 2007

What: Wireless Nomad Monthly Meeting!

We'll be doing some mesh set-up and and deploying a couple of mesh nodes near LC, so get ready for some WiFi fun!

When: Wednesday 12 September 2007 at 7:00PM-9:00PM
Where: Linux Caffe
326 Harbord Street
Toronto ON M6G 3A4

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Man arrested over wi-fi 'theft' in England

You've got to wonder what's going on in England... or if there's more to this story.

I wonder if the police could get away with this in Canada -- the Charter of Rights and Freedoms make some serious distinctions between what is and what is not a lawful search by police. Usually, there has to be some sort of reasonable belief that someone is committing a crime, not just a mere suspicion that a person might be up to no good. Has using a laptop in public become so suspicious that police can stop a citizen, interrogate them, search them, and then if they turn something up, arrest that person? I hope not!


Man arrested over wi-fi 'theft'
A man has been arrested in connection with using a wi-fi broadband connection without permission.

From the BBC:
"He was initially detained by two Police Community Support Officers in Chiswick, west London, on Tuesday.

They became suspicious when they saw the 39-year-old using his laptop outside a house in Prebend Gardens.

When questioned he admitted to using someone else's unsecured wi-fi broadband connection. He has been bailed pending further inquiries.

The case is now being handled by the Metropolitan Police's computer crime unit.

Det Con Mark Roberts said: "This arrest should act as a warning to anyone who thinks it is acceptable to illegally use other people's broadband connections."

Dishonestly obtaining free internet access is an offence under the Communications Act 2003 and a potential breach of the Computer Misuse Act."


Friday, August 17, 2007

Linux In The Park 2007 is this Sunday

Linux In The Park 2007 is this Sunday
Start: 11:00
End: 20:00

David sez:

For the third year in a row, the geeks will gather in Bickford Park to eat drink and be nerdy. This year, just like last year, non-geeks and people who just like penguins, are invited. A computer swap meet is planned along the south edge of the park (tentatively 10am - 3pm) where we have the luxury of having a truck come by ,later in the day, to pick up the detritus. So bring all your computer junk and tell all your friends.

This is the gang that showed up last year, with the very first public inflation of Big Tux, and then we went inside and had the inaugural screening on our (then) new projector; RevolutionOS. ahhhh, good times.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

American Community Broadband Act would overturn bans on municipal broadband

Community Broadband Act would overturn bans on municipal broadband

By Eric Bangeman | Published: August 03, 2007 - 10:59AM CT

A bill introduced into the House of Representatives this week will attempt to spur broadband development in the US by overturning existing state bans on municipal broadband deployments. Titled the Community Broadband Act of 2007, the bill (PDF) is cosponsored by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI).

Phishing plumbs new depths: Vietnamese fishermen sever fiber optic lines
Verizon quarterly earnings: FiOS is rockin'
FCC classifies Broadband over Power Line as information service
Bill would open up TV "white space" for wireless Internet
Currently, laws in Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Texas, and a handful of other states prevent cities and towns from installing and operating their own broadband networks. Most of those laws were enacted in the wake of heavy lobbying from the telecommunications industry, which doesn't want to see competition coming from local governments.


UPDATE: Network Outage Fixed!

UPDATE: as of 09:30 AM 05AUG2007, all services are back online. Again, apologies to all.
-the Wireless Nomad team

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Network Outage Continues: Working on it!

UPDATE: as of 11:55 AM, Voicemail is back up now, too... and WiFi login should be back by this evening. Again, apologies to all.

UPDATE: as of 10:33 AM, OK:email, website. NOT OK: WiFi login, system status page, voicemail.

A wire was plugged in backwards at the data centre... go figure. A least that part was easy to fix, once it was found.

Stay tuned for updates...


Sorry, folks... the servers are still offline as part of the maintenance...

Plug into your routers to get internet, there's no WiFi login until the servers are back online.

-the WN team

Friday, August 03, 2007

Scheduled Network Outage Tonight

Scheduled network outage tonight from 11:30pm Friday 03AUG2007, until 02:00am Saturday 04AUG2007. Some necessary server maintenance with our web hosting provider, TCCP-- should be all OK by morning.

Co-op voicemail, email and website will be down, and it will not be possible to login to the WiFi during this time. DSL internet connections will not be affected, so plug into your router to get online if you need to.

Sorry for any trouble,

the Wireless Nomad Team

Thursday, August 02, 2007

File-sharing is a "petty offense," say German prosecutors

File-sharing is a "petty offense," say German prosecutors

from ArsTechnica
By Eric Bangeman | Published: August 02, 2007 - 12:07PM CT

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry has run into another roadblock in its legal battles against suspected file-sharers in Europe. German prosecutors have begun denying requests to force ISPs to identify the subscribers behind IP addresses, saying that the alleged file-sharing was a "petty offense."


Silly lawsuits blocked by sensible goverment lawyers: what a refreshing copyright headline!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Monthly Meeting Wednesday 08 August 2007

Monthly Meeting Wednesday 08 August 2007

What: Wireless Nomad Monthly Meeting!

When: Wednesday 08 August 2007 at 7:00PM-9:00PM
Where: Linux Caffe
326 Harbord Street
Toronto ON M6G 3A4

Monday, July 09, 2007

Monthly Meeting Wednesday 11 July 2007

Monthly Meeting Wednesday 11 July 2007

What: Wireless Nomad Monthly Meeting!

When: Wednesday 11 July 2007 at 7:00PM-9:00PM
Where: Linux Caffe
326 Harbord Street
Toronto ON M6G 3A4

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

World's Worst ISP: Exetel!

From a story on ArsTechnica:
ISP as copyright cop: Aussie ISP kills all user multimedia files nightly

By Eric Bangeman | Published: June 27, 2007 - 09:01AM CT

Envision a world where your ISP does the copyright policing at the behest of the movie studios, television networks, and music labels, where no copyrighted content stays up on a user's account for more than 24 hours. It sounds like a dream for Big Content, but it's also a nightmare for customers of Australian ISP Exetel.

An Exetel support page which features the top ten support questions from the previous month. A frequently asked question from customers is why their multimedia files keep disappearing from their accounts. Exetel says that it takes a "hard approach to copyright issues," and since April 2005 the ISP has run a script that deletes all multimedia content with common extensions including .avi, .mp3, .wmv, and .mov.

That would certainly have the effect of removing any copyrighted content that shouldn't be there, but it also makes it hard for customers to share their own slideshows, home movies, and music, because, as Boing Boing notes, Exetel will automatically delete content that isn't infringing. "Sorry you can't watch the clips of Junior's footy match, mum. My ISP nuked it last night."


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Telus to Merge with Bell?

Telus says tie-up would be 'all-Canadian solution'
Jun 21, 2007 08:54 AM
Canadian Press
VANCOUVER – Telus Corp. (TSX: T) says a possible merger with Bell Canada parent BCE Inc. (TSX: BCE) would be "an all-Canadian solution" as pension funds and foreign investors circle its rival, which is Canada's largest telephone company."

Well, at least we would know who was screwing us when we pick up the phone... ;-)

Seriously, though, would it be better to have one super-sized Canadian provider, or an American-owned provider (ex-Bell) plus a large Canadian provder (Telus)? Neither seems to be a really nice choice.

Now, the rest of the FULL STORY because the Star locks down its articles after 7 days...
Vancouver-based Telus, the country's second-biggest phone company, confirmed Thursday it has entered into a mutual non-disclosure and standstill agreement and is pursuing non-exclusive discussions with BCE about a possible merger.

"Telus believes the combination of the two businesses would represent a compelling strategic and financial opportunity for all BCE and Telus stakeholders," CEO Darren Entwistle said in a release.

"It would be an all-Canadian solution for both immediate and long-term value creation, whilst ensuring a vibrant player continues in this increasingly competitive industry."

Telus joins a long list of companies eyeing BCE, which confirmed earlier this year it was reviewing options to increase shareholder value, including a sale or merger.

Other suitors include groups led by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Board and U.S. private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. BCE has reportedly asked the three consortiums to submit their offers for the company before the Canada Day weekend.

Montreal-based BCE announced Wednesday night it's in discussions with Telus to "explore the possibility of a business combination." The two companies have a combined market capitalization of more than $50 billion.

A union of BCE and Telus would likely require the new entity to divest some of its wireline assets where they overlap but there would be few regulatory ramifications for wireline operations, UBS Securities analyst Jeffrey Fan wrote in a note to clients.

"The key questions are: How is Telus valued in a potential merger when BCE is currently valued as an LBO (leveraged buyout) candidate?," wrote Fan, and "is Telus really serious?"

Synergies in wireline communications of a merged company would likely come in around $700 million, Fan noted.

The brokerage raised its target price on BCE stock to $40, continuing its rating of "neutral."

Entwistle said Telus "has a unique opportunity to create a truly national Canadian enterprise with the requisite balance-sheet strength as well as scale and scope to continue Telus's development as a global leader in the deployment of state-of-the-art technology and innovative new services for customers."

Telus said a merger with BCE would "preserve and enhance a public Canadian investment vehicle for ordinary Canadians and institutional investors."

It would also "preserve an income tax base for Canadian governments that would otherwise be eliminated by highly levered private equity structures with non-taxable equity holders and U.S. sourced debt."

Telus is a western-based national telecommunications company, with $8.8 billion of annual revenue and 10.8 million customer connections including 5.1 million wireless subscribers, 4.5 million wireline network access lines and 1.1 million Internet subscribers.

Federal Industry Minister Maxime Bernier acknowledged last week the government is aware of the fierce debate around whether Canada's mobile market lacks competition as industry players exchanged barbs over whether the country's main mobile companies – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX: RCI.B) – have already become too dominant.

Recent media reports, quoting sources close to the company, said Telus was unlikely to join the bidding unless there has a clear signal from Ottawa that it would not block a marriage of the country's two largest telecommunications companies.

While private-equity bids have dominated takeover speculation so far, BCE chief executive Michael Sabia said at the company's recent annual meeting that a private equity takeover is not the only option available to the company. That has led Bay Street to speculate on other possibilities such as a massive share buyback or a merger with Telus.

Teaming up with Telus is a scenario shareholders suggested at annual meetings of both companies recently, only to be brushed off by executives on both sides.

Earlier this year, National Bank Financial analyst Greg MacDonald wrote about the possible combination, citing a lot of savings since both are phone companies. However, the move would be costly considering the jump in BCE's stock recently.

Before the announcement Wednesday, BCE shares closed down 18 cents on the Toronto Stock Exchange, off from a recent high of $40.31.

Telus shares were up a cent at $$65.76.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New Longest WiFi Link Record! (382km, 3mbps!)

June 18, 2007 9:18 AM PDT
New Wi-Fi distance record: 382 kilometers

"Researcher Ermanno Pietrosemoli has set what appears to be a new record for the longest communication link with Wi-Fi.

Pietrosemoli, president of the Escuela Latinoamerica de Redes (which means networking school of Latin America) established a Wi-Fi link between two computers located in El Aguila and Platillon Mountain, Venezuela. That's a distance of 382 kilometers, or 238 miles. He used technology from Intel, which is concocting its own long-range Wi-Fi equipment, and some off-the-shelf parts. Pietrosemoli gets about 3 megabits per second in each direction on his long-range connections."


First Morning at the CRACIN Conference in Montreal

Community WiFi researchers and project leads are getting together for three days this week at Concordia University in Montreal. So far, so good-- lots of academic talk, but each 10-minute presentation has a useful lesson for people doing on-the-ground community WiFi projects.

More later!

Link to CRACIN