Wednesday, December 19, 2007

December 2007 Issue - MCN Newsletter - The Packet

Hello from Muskoka Community Network(MCN):

The December 2007 issue of Muskoka Community Network's newletter The Packet is now available online.

In this issue:
  • Broadband Update
  • Tourism Keys III
  • Content and Bandwith Shaping
  • What does RSS do for me?
We hope you enjoy this issue.

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Town of Hunstville Engages New Blog Technology

It is exciting to see the Town of Huntsville engage Blog technology to gain input for their master plan.

The Town is soliciting input from the public in consideration of the Huntsville master plan.

This is a great example of using Web 2.0 technology to meet organizational goals.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Wireless Broadband Service Expands in Muskoka

Core Broadband, the wholesale network provider contracted by Muskoka Community Network, is continuing to expand wireless broadband service accross Muskoka.

More information about this service and how to access it can be found at:

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Content and Bandwidth Shaping - Free Market Vs. Free Speech

The late great Canadian media expert Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase the "The Medium is the Message". While there are many interpretations of McLuhan's phrase, he seems to indicate we become acustomed to things over time that we once found to be on the edge.

Welcome the Internet. The Internet is constantly changing right before our eyes in ways that are sometimes obvious and sometimes more subtle.

Two examples are content and bandwidth shaping. What are these two Internet phenomena?

Bandwidth shaping is a way that some Internet Service Providers (ISP's) manage the bandwidth use of their customers. Automated tools allow an ISP to monitor how their clients use the Internet. If the client "hogs" bandwidth through file sharing applications or other methods that allows the client to take up more than their fair share of bandwidth, the ISP shifts some of the services provided to that client into the equivalent of an Internet slow lane.

ISP's argue that this is required to maintain overall network performance and control their costs. Consumers argue that they aren't getting the bandwidth they pay for. Both have a point.

Content shaping is a different thing all together. Content shaping is a method where companies that provide information content on the Internet shape the content that is delivered to a user based on certain criteria. This technology allows a content provider to target specific information directly to you based on some demographic or even perhaps your individual information. Two companies that are current doing this are Google (see and Rogers (see

Content shaping is a hotly debated topic and it will be a delicate issue for all parties including the public, ISP's, content providers, politicians, and governments.

Here is an example: A person (lets call him Bob) has medical condition X, and a big pharmacuetical company (lets call them Big Pharma) has a medical treatment for condition X. It would be reasonable to assume that Big Pharma will pay big bucks to shape content for their product to Bob. So if Bob is searching for information on medical condition X he may only find content targeted to him through content shaping. Bob may not easily find information on the causes or cures of condition X.

In short, organizations with deep pockets will have the resources to shape content and organizations that don't will have a hard time getting their message heard on the internet.

Imagine a person with a drinking problem searching for help, only to be targeted with beer adverstiments. Content shaping makes this possible.

So the question is this: Is content shaping simply good target marketing, or is it an impediment to freedom of information?

One point of view is that content shaping is good for business, while the other point of view is that this will entirely commercialize the Internet thereby destroying the egalitarian premise and functions which the Internet was founded upon. One of the original premises of the Internet was that universal access to information is an equalizing force. Will content shaping change that equalizing force? In my opinion, content shaping will have a significant influence, but commercialiation won't totally dominate.

Simply think of television broadcasting. If the commercial content is ridiculously out of proporation then users will tune out.

I speculate that the next evolution of the Internet is "Internet Channels" where companies shape content based on what users want and give them the straight goods as well. This would be much like the Golf Channel, The Shopping Channel, or the Home and Garden Channel is to broadcast television.

As far as the Internet goes, we will still have to wait and see what effect bandwidth and content shaping has for the masses.

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Friday, December 7, 2007

Nova Scotia Invests $74 Million in Rural Broadband

Nova Scotia is committing $74 million to bring broadband to rural areas.

This project is a result of contributions from The Federal Government, The Province, Bragg Communications and Seaside Communications.

For more information on this story please visit:

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Monday, December 3, 2007

New Internet Tools Tax Internet Backbone Infrastructure

The Washington post reports that Internet users are embracing video, file sharing and music downloads at an astonishing rate, and all this information flows over the information highway.

The question is can the digital highway handle the added traffic?

A new study indicates that in it's current state the Internet backbone will have trouble keeping up with this continually increasing flow of digital traffic.

The "side roads" of the internet continue to grow, and all that traffic flows back to the major arteries. It is these major arteries that are bulging and will need significant upgrades to keep pace with the growth of traffic.

Improved local routing, caching, and improving technology infrastructure will all play a part in ensuring that broadband keeps the internet thriving.

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Local Firefighters and Public Works Gain Improved Radio Coverage in the Process

BRACEBRIDGE – December 3, 2007 - Muskoka Community Network (MCN) is pleased to announce that by working together with the Town of Gravenhurst, many residents and businesses of Gravenhurst will have access to high speed internet 1.5 years sooner than originally planned. It is now anticipated that Gravenhurst will have access to high speed the first quarter of 2008 (formerly late 2009).

Collaboration with the Town has also brought about a solution to two of Gravenhurst’s more pressing communications challenges ─ insufficient two-way radio coverage for both firefighters and the Town’s Public Works department.

“In conversation with Muskoka Community Network we were able to arrange for our new radio equipment to be fixed atop the new broadband towers.” said Bob Colhoun, Deputy Mayor, Gravenhurst.

There will now be upgraded two-way radio coverage for Gravenhurst’s firefighters, improving both public and firefighter safety. There will also be an improvement in two-way radio coverage for the Town’s Public Works department, improving overall efficiency of the department.

“This is truly a win win for the Town of Gravenhurst,” added Colhoun. “Not only will we receive the highly anticipated high speed access sooner, we have saved the Town a large sum of money by optimizing Muskoka Commuity Network’s publicly (FedNor) funded project.”

"This is excellent news for families and businesses in Gravenhurst and I'm proud that our government was able to provide funding to help get this done," said Tony Clement, Minister for FedNor and MP for Parry Sound - Muskoka. "Our partnership with MCN and the Town of Gravenhurst is one more example of how important FedNor investment is to Muskoka and Parry Sound."

“Muskoka Community Network is committed to making the most of the public funding afforded by FedNor,” said Rob McPhee, Executive Director, Muskoka Community Network. “We would be more than happy to work with other towns and townships to explore common goals if opportunity exists.”

Gravenhurst to Receive / Page 2 of 2

On Bringing High Speed to Muskoka

It is estimated that 12,000 Muskoka-based businesses and residents are currently without access to high speed internet.

“In today’s competitive marketplace, access to high speed internet is a necessary advantage,” said Rob McPhee. “Not only does it benefit business, but residential consumers as well, who are continually in search of better and faster service.”

For the past two years, Muskoka Community Network has been working to bring high speed internet to the unserved businesses and residents of Muskoka and Almaguin.

To date, Muskoka Community Network has performed a gap analysis to determine who is currently without access; has secured substantial funds from FedNor ($1.7 million) towards the development of an infrastructure to deliver broadband to unserved areas; and through an open bidding process retained Core Broadband to begin building the necessary infrastructure earlier this year.

Under this project, wireless broadband coverage is expected to reach 80 per cent of Gravenhurst’s unserved population, including Kilworthy, Kahshe, Houseys Rapids and Barkway. Approximately 20 per cent of the population may not be able to receive service due to terrain or low elevation issues.

About FedNor

FedNor is a federal regional development organization in Ontario that works with a variety of partners, as both a facilitator and catalyst, to help create an environment in which communities can thrive, businesses can grow and people can prosper.

About Muskoka Community Network

Muskoka Community Network (MCN) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to facilitating the implementation of telecommunications solutions for the regions of Muskoka and Almaguin by working with, and forming partnerships with both the public and private sectors.


For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Rob McPhee
Muskoka Community Network

Alison Withey
Blue Whale Communications Inc.

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Google - Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal Project

CanWest News Service is reporting that Google the Internet search engine giant, has announced that they are going to pursue the development of renewable energy.

Google's goal is to create 1 gigawatt of renewable energy, and they expect to do it a cost that is lower than current production via coal burning methods.

Google has indicated that they intend to do this in the next few years, which is contrary to the traditional hydro industry change of pace which often takes decades.

Many large companies are learning that going 'green' is good business, and some companies such as Google may just be paving the way.

This technology news is brought to you by Muskoka Community Network. For more information please visit the host link at CanWest News Service.

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What type of internet connection do you have?