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Press Release: Grand opening of the Toronto Free-Net Community Internet Access Network

Contact: Irene Cortes, Media Developer/Communications Officer

Toronto, Ontario, January 27, 2002 - The Toronto Free-Net Inc. announces the launch of its first Community Internet Access network. This network provides community members with connection to the Internet, offers an array of web resources to the general public and advocates the rights to access this technology. In collaboration with The Toronto Dollar, Seeds of Hope Foundation, Anishnawbe Health, The Salvation Army and The Raging Spoon, the Toronto Free-Net is working to facilitate these Community-based groups with internet portals, allowing for the expansion of free-flowing information to pass from community to community -- creating even wider groups and relations.

Ken McCracken, the Executive Director of the Toronto Free-Net, expressed his enthusiasm for the creation of this network: "TFN was founded in 1993 to remove barriers to information access. Since then we have become known for providing dialup and more recently high speed Internet access. Now through the generous assistance of Industry Canada's Community Access Program and our community partners we are able to provide Internet workstations in neighbourhoods that need them."

Toronto Free-Net has been providing users with by-donation and low-cost access for nearly 10 years. As a liaison for Community-based groups and technology, TFN has long been an advocate for rights to access and is proud to have connected so many important groups to the boundless stores of information the Internet has to offer. In celebration, the TFN is hosting a virtual ribbon cutting ceremony on February 28, 2003 at The Raging Spoon (761 Queen St. W) between 6 - 9pm. This will be an opportunity for Community members within the network to step into the domain of cyberspace together.

Confirmed Guests include:

From: TFN Executive Director
Date: Thu, 2 May 2002 00:08:51 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: New Dialup Time and Filespace Quotas

In order to ensure the financial viability of the Toronto Free-Net,
we must start charging for the higher levels of access to TFN.

In May we will be fully implementing dialup time/filespace control.
We are asking you to choose a level of access that will best satisfy
your needs.

Free access will still be available, but it will be more limited than it
has been in the past. There are five membership levels:

* BASIC: Free service will give you a total of 20 minutes per
  day dial-up time, in sessions of up to 10-minutes and you will
  receive half a megabyte of disk space.

* 1-PLUS: will give you a total of 70 minutes per day, with a
  session length of up to 60-minutes with 3 megabytes of disk
  space. 1-plus costs $5 per month, or $50 per year if paid annually.

* 2-PLUS: will give you a total of 130 minutes per day, with a
  session length of up to 60-minutes with 7 megabytes of disk
  space. 2-plus costs $8 per month, or $80 per year if paid annually.

* 442-PLUS: Like the 2-plus plan, 442-Plus will give you a total
  of up to 260 minutes over a 2 day period. It also allows you
  to use unused time from the previous day. For example, if you use
  1 hour one day, the next day you can use 3 hours. Session lengths
  are up to 90 minutes with 10 megabytes of disk space. 442-plus costs
  $10 per month, or $100 per year if paid annually.

* UNLIMITED: Unlimited time, Unlimited session length, 20 megabytes of
  diskspace. This costs $23/month and $220 per year if paid annually.

**All accounts above include extra daytime and evening 2 minute sessions
to quickly check email. Also from Midnight to 8:00 am, extra
time is available... equal to the allowed day/evening usage.


WHEN: May 7th will be the last day where the current 1 hour session
"442-Plus"  level of access is given to everyone. On May 8th we will put
in place the "2-Plus" level, on May 15th the "1-Plus" level and finally on
May 22nd, the "Basic Free" level of time and filespace access.  Please be
forewarned that filespace quota constraints put in place on these dates
may temporarily block your use of mail and file storage until you are able
to download or delete larger unneccessary files.

HOW: Please use the online form under "Membership Upgrade" to indicate the
level of access you wish to use. Then as soon as possible, please send,
phone, fax or bring your payment to our office.  When we receive your
payment, we will enable your "Plus" privileges for the next day.  The
expiry date for "Plus" accounts (the date when access level will
automatically be set back to "Basic Free") will be calculated forward
from May 22nd. If you wish to maintain the "Basic Free" level access, no
action is required at this time.

Thank-you for continuing to support Toronto Free-Net. It is the volunteer
and financial support of members which makes everything possible at TFN.

Ken McCracken
Executive Director
Toronto Free-Net

From: TFN Executive Director
Date: 5/May/2002
Subject: Changes in the online Community

The Changing Face of the Internet

When the Toronto FreeNet was first conceived, the internet was seen as being primarily an emerging tool for communications, and like most new things, cost a great deal of money. TFN was created to insure that this vital resource would not be beyond the reach of Toronto citizens who lacked the financial means to pay its high costs.

Our concern was that the average citizens not find themselves excluded from the new wave of business and learning that would be facilitated by this rapidly growing medium. Your FreeNet remains committed to this principle and purpose.

But the internet has grown in other ways. What started out as a communications tool has grown into a mass entertainment medium, and the average cost for getting connected has dropped dramatically. This has created a new 'image' for the internet. One that makes it much harder to obtain corporate sponsorship and funding.

A New Funding Model

Even though the internet is still a vital communications tool, many potential sponsors are far less willing to support something they see as 'entertainment', feeling there is less 'need' with the more accessible pricing of today's internet. A few organizations still support us, with a clear vision of the importance of the internet, and we thank them. But we need to do more to insure the continued success of the Toronto FreeNet.

Without doubt, there are many Torontonians who can afford a small amount of money for internet access. As a not-for-profit organization, TFN still has the financial advantage of being able to provide the internet at a substantially reduced cost. By offering an improved level of service at a modest fee, our hope is that the majority of our members will take advantage of this 'deal', and help us cover the basic costs of our operation.

But there are still going to be those individuals whose financical means are so limited that they can only access the internet for free. TFN will continue to serve this need, but to support it, we need a broader funding base. To this end, we are going to begin offering Premium service levels, on par with the best that other Toronto Internet providers have to offer. The service will be the same, and the prices the same or lower, but the difference is that the 'extra' income from these memberships will be used to support the free service we offer to those who need it.

If each TFN member pays according to their ability, then this vital service will continue to grow and serve the needs of its community.

TFN is NOT free Entertainment

We don't expect our sponsors (and our more generous members) to support people who just want to play online games all day, or go surfing for hours just for 'fun'. So we regret to inform those members of TFN that have been enjoying long hours of 'entertainment' that we will no longer be providing this kind of extended-time access for free. We offer this service to you at the cost level appropriate for your usage.

Unfortunately, we have no way of determining what any person is doing on their TFN connection, and so we must simply limit the amount of time that can be spent online each day. With most modern e-mail clients, mail can be downloaded quite quickly, within a few minutes, then the mail is read, and replies composed, offline. This does not require much time, and so our members will find the basic free service has a very limited amount of connection time. Sufficient for basic e-mail and a small amount of web browsing. It is our hope that most members will upgrade to a low-cost paid account, thereby covering their own costs, and permitting us to extend our service, which leads to.....

Service Improvements

We couldn't expect people to start paying money for "less", so TFN is pleased to announce the introduction of significant improvements, such as the new TFN website and help pages (Oh? You noticed already?), and Personal Web Space Hosting - your own Home Page on the World Wide Web! Plans are in the works to introduce filtering tools to reduce the volume of 'junk' e-mail (aka "spam"), and for other improvements in the areas of account management, and a new volunteer-based UserHelp mail system for those who need help using TFN.

Free Full Service "Information Provider" Accounts for Not-For-Profit Organizations. More than any other sector of our community, various community-based groups lack the funding for the sort of internet access they need. TFN will continue to provide full service to these groups, now with our new web page hosting service. It is our plan to become a central resource for these groups, listing them on our "Community" menu.

Our Apologies

We do apologize to those members who may be inconvenienced by the reductions in available online connection time, but they were necessary. The improved levels of revenue from the paid service levels will insure that our organization remains sustainable in the years to come, permit us to continue improving our service to keep pace with technological growth, and most of all insure that Toronto will always have this invaluable resource as part of its community.

From: TFN Executive Director
Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 08:18:26 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:  Upgrading Your Account

Toronto Free-Net is in the last stages of implementing its new tiered
services plan. Thank-you to all members who have already upgraded! By
sharing the costs together, we can continue to be a resource for everyone.

We have given members an extra week to upgrade from Basic level
access which allows two 10 minute sessions per day and .5 Megabytes of
file storage. In your web browser, see the link "Memberships: New and
Upgrading" at for more information on the various accounts

BASIC ACCOUNTS: For the past week, all members who have not upgraded have
been given 70 minutes a day with maximum session lengths of 30 minutes. On
May 30th, we will be reducing access to two 20 minute sessions. On June
3rd we will set Basic accounts to two 10 minute sessions.

If you are unable to contribute at the $5 per month level, you may still
donate by sending your cheque (with userid) to:

         Toronto FreeNet, Inc.
         600 Bay Street, Suite 406,
         Toronto, Ontario
         Canada, M5G 1M6

Telling people you know about Toronto Free-Net is another way you can help
us. Thanks so much for supporting community networking in Toronto.

Ken McCracken
Executive Director
Toronto Free-Net

PLEASE NOTE: When most of our lines are busy, our timing software requires
you to wait at least 2 minutes before reconnecting after a session
disconnect. If you continually redial without waiting, you will not be
able to reconnect.

From: TFN Executive Director
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2003 23:47:29 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:  TFN on CityTV Thursday Aug 28 / New Packages

Dear TFN Members,

Toronto Free-Net will be featured in a short spot on the 6pm CityTV news
on Thursday Aug 28. If you aren't able to catch it live, I'm told that the
video clip will be linked at under "Jee-Yun Lee's Back
To School Bargains"

"Plus" plans improved ---------------------------------------------

In September TFN is on a membership drive to share the significant costs
in running the operation amongst more members and also to provide better
service. If you know of a way to spread the word that TFN provides good
Internet service at low cost, please do!

To add more value to our packages:

-the price on the Unlimited plan is now reduced to $20/month and $192/year

-the offpeak/onpeak changeover time for "plus" packages has been extended
  from 8am to 9am so that earlybirds can get another hour online before
  onpeak hours (which will now be 9am to 12 midnight) will start counting.

-our most popular plan, 422plus, now gets 6 hours after midnight and the
  same timebanking ability to save unused time over 2 days. 442plus
  will feel even more like the Unlimited package for most people. As
  before, the rolling 2 day timebanking utility for extended onpeak day
  and evening usage still allows for more than 4 hours every 2 days.

-2plus gets an extra offpeak hour to make it 3 hours after midnight
  during offpeak hours. During onpeak hours, daily quota remains at 2

-1plus remains the same except for the changeover time. By the way, 1plus
  is still the best deal in Toronto for $5/month Internet access!

-as before short sessions are still available after you've used your daily
  time quota to allow checking for, and then responding offline to urgent

For a summary of our plans see:

Also in case you didn't know, TFN now offers DSL High Speed service with a
static IP address and a generous transfer quota. You can share your
connection and costs as well as run servers with a permanent address on
the Internet from your home or office (while still being able to talk on
your phone line!). See for details. If Bell is able to
provide DSL to yuor home or business, TFN can too.

That's about it for now. More improvements and services will be available

Ken McCracken

   Ken McCracken, Executive Director     Toronto Free-Net Inc.
                                         600 Bay Street, Suite 406
                                         Toronto, M5G 1M6
                                         416 204 9257

From: TFN Executive Director
Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2003 15:45:47 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:  Toronto Free-Net Founding Anniversary

                  HAPPY FOUNDING DAY, TFN!

         Toronto Free-Net Marks Ten Years of Commitment to
                   Universal Internet Access

July 16th, 2003 marks the ten year anniversary of the legal founding of
Toronto Free-Net (TFN), Toronto's Community Network non-profit
Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Founded on principles of freedom of expression, freedom of access to
online information, and equal (to commercial) opportunity to disseminate
(community) information, TFN has kept up with the times to provide
reliable, modern ISP services at low cost while continuing to sponsor
access for disadvantaged citizens.

Since opening its phone lines to the public in the fall of 1994, TFN
has provided over 12 million Internet sessions to its 45,000 registered
members. TFN is unique as an ISP in that it is member-directed and employs
a cadre of skilled volunteers to maintain its technical and administrative
systems. Over the years TFN has been supported with in-kind donations by
corporate sponsors such as Velocet Communications, Cisco Systems, Rogers
Communications, Bell Canada and Sun Microsystems. However contrary to
popular belief, TFN has not received support from any level of government
for its core operating costs, except for an initial 1994 grant during the
Ontario New Democratic Party reign from the Ontario Ministry of Economic
Development, Trade and Tourism.

TFN is part of a worldwide community networking movement which believes
that Internet access should be a human right. Early advocacy and
grassroots organising by local citizens in Community Networks similar to
TFN has in part placed Canada in the lead in addressing the Digital Divide
and universal access to information. By supporting TFN as their low cost
ISP, Toronto citizens are voting for the reality of Universal Access for
their disadvantaged neighbours.

other related links:
- Worldwide Community Networks 
- Telecommunities Canada 

   Ken McCracken, Executive Director     Toronto Free-Net Inc.
                                         600 Bay Street, Suite 406
                                         Toronto, M5G 1M6

From: TFN Executive Director
Date: Thu, 4 Sep 2003 07:42:05 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:  Toronto Free-Net recent connection problems

We are sorry for the recent connection problems. The source was traced at
3:00 pm Tuesday to a single bad cable at our bandwidth supplier.

This was the first significant break in service in over three years (if
you don't count the recent 2 day blackout that is!)

We will be adding 4 days to the expiry date for "Plus" Account level
members to compensate for these two incidents.

TFN continues the ongoing process of making its systems more stable and
reliable. Rather than relying on a single bandwidth supplier we are in the
process of securing more back-up resources with the help of Peer1 Networks
( in order to safeguard your connectivity.

Thank you for your patience and support.

Ken McCracken
Executive Director
Toronto Free-Net

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