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General News · 12th May 2013
Ester Strijbos
Below you will find an update on the Wifi Hotpot at the Co-op. As the Wifi Society has a computer there, we are sharing this update with you. The Wifi Society provide computers for community use at The Cortes Market, The Natural Food Co-op, Trude's Café and Squirrel Cove General Store. Printers are available at all locations except at Trude's Café. All computers are available for you to use for free for your non-internet needs (word processing, etc.) Hi speed internet is available on our computers for free/by donation or for a small usage fee (check each location for prices). We also offer weekly tutorials and workshops on a regular basis.

From the Co-op Newsletter:

Unfortunately the Co-op is no longer able to absorb the cost of unlimited Internet usage without charging a usage fee; bandwidth charges from multiple people surfing the Internet in the cafe can rise significantly during the busy season.

After lengthy discussion (which commenced during the previous Board's stewardship and has continued among the present Board) we have come up with a plan that shares the costs between the Co-op and Internet users.

As of June 1st, the Co-op will begin to charge a fee for use of our wi-fi hotspot but don't worry, Co-op members will continue to enjoy free wi-fi access as a perk of membership! Only non-members will be asked to pay. Here's how we plan to manage access in the future:

Wi-fi access will be available with a temporary username and password that is only valid for a certain length of time. (The usernames and passwords are fairly short and easy to type, no long number codes.) To obtain a username and password, non-members can purchase a paper ticket (voucher) at the cafe/bakery or store counter using cash; or they can view the wi-fi "welcome screen" and fill out an online form to pay using Paypal or a major credit card. A Co-op member can simply ask at the store counter for a "member voucher" which will be free.

The free voucher will be for 2 hours of login (not elapsed) time. What this means is that if you don't use your entire 2 (or 4) hours at one sitting, you can log out and come back later
up to one week later -- to use up the rest. A login timer is prominently displayed in a separate window to help you keep track of your session.

The paid vouchers will come in two denominations:

A) a 2-hour login with reduced bandwidth (suitable for email, ordinary web surfing, and audio Skype) for $2 (one toonie gets you 2 hours)
B) a 4-hour login with enhanced bandwidth (suitable for more image-intensive browsing, uploading vacation photos, video Skype) for $4.

We conferred with a couple of folks from urban areas who said that these rates are "very reasonable" compared to big-city hotspot fees and should not discourage our summer visitors from hanging out with their laptops. Anyone who plans regular, lengthy wi-fi sessions would, of course, see the benefit of purchasing a Co-op membership!

The Cortes Wi-fi Association has requested that one computer with free access be maintained at the Co-op, and we are happy to agree to this; the large-screen Mac which now sits at the back of the store by the freezers will continue to be free to all, but it will be moved forward to the "Member Hub" bench. We ask members and guests, as always, please to be considerate and let other people have their turn!