Wakenet Internet made in Wakefield, Quebec

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by admin on April 8, 2010

This map shows what areas Wakenet covers. Purple areas mean Wakenet is available, while the rest is not served.

This map shows what areas Wakenet covers. Purple areas mean Wakenet is available, while the rest is not served. Click to enlarge

Who needs Bell anyway? Not 181 Wakefield, Quebec area residents, thanks to the ingenuity, know how and hard work of two villagers who built their own high-speed Internet network.

Wakenet is the ‘made in Wakefield’ solution to the lack of high-speed Internet in much of La Peche.

The non-profit was started six years ago by John Kingsley and Pablo Sanchez as a private network, but with more and more Gatineau Hillers complaining about the snail’s pace of dial up, word of a local, operational high-speed network began to spread.

“With word of mouth, it just kind of took on a life of its own,” said Kingsley.

Soon enough Kingsley’s small home-based network transformed into a full high-speed Internet service provider that now serves 181 homes and businesses in the Gatineau Hills.

So, what is Wakenet?

Wakenet is a non-profit high-speed Internet service, which runs on radio waves similar to a cell phone. Wakenet has 13 towers installed in La Peche, two of which are solar towers.

Can everybody in La Peche get Wakenet?

No. According to Kingsley, Wakenet covers approximately one-quarter to one-third of La Peche, mainly in Lascelles, Rupert and Lac Bernard. Wakenet also covers most of the east side of the Gatineau River in Edelweiss. Areas not covered by Wakenet include Alcove, Masham and Farrellton, although Kingsley is hoping to expand to those areas in the near future. Wakenet also covers Wakefield, but most residences and business in the village are able to get service through Bell.

How much does it cost?

John Kingsley works on some equipment

John Kingsley works on some equipment

There are three different packages offered by Wakenet, all with different prices. Here is a break down of each package, price, speeds and usage limitations.

Basic: $34/ month.

.5 Megabits per second (Mbps) for downloading and .1 Mbps for uploading.

Useful for basic emailing, net surfing and downloading the odd photo, but not recommended for heavy YouTube watchers or music downloaders.

Full Speed: $49/ month.

2 Mbps for downloading and .4 Mbps uploading. This is the most popular package and is great for streaming YouTube, downloading songs and movies as well as basic emailing and surfing.

Commercial: $89/month.

Features the same speed at the Full Speed package, but offers a higher level of customer service. These are Wakenet’s priority customers, meaning that when service goes down, commercial customers are the first to get back up and running. This package also features a $30 credit limit on gigabyte (GB) usage, compared to the other two limits, which are at $5 and $20 respectively.

What are the credits for?

This is where it gets a bit tricky. Most Internet service providers like Bell offer customers 1 GB limit on their Internet usage. Instead of giving a limit, Wakenet gives people credits per month, which are eaten up by GBs used in that given month. How much a GB costs, depends on when you are using the Internet. The busiest time for Wakenet is 7 p.m., and GBs are the most expensive at $2 per GB. Later into the evening, the price goes down, as less stress is put on the system. This encourages customers to do their heavy downloading later in the night, freeing up the system in the prime hours. At 2 a.m. GBs are the cheapest at $.50.

So what does a GB give me?

A group of Wakenet workers and volunteers erect a solar panelled tower in Rupert

A group of Wakenet workers and volunteers erect a solar panelled tower in Rupert

Generally, one GB will allow a customer to download about 1,000 songs.

How easy is it to go over the limit?

According to Kingsley only about 20 per cent of customers go over the limit. Extra credits can be purchased.

How much does installation cost?

One-time setup fee of $295 and Wakenet gives the customer complete ownership of the equipment, which is an antenna/radio and wall mount as well as a Power over Ethernet Injector. Wakenet guarantees the equipment for 1 year. If you are not happy with your service within the first month, Wakenet will refund your money in full.

What’s the customer feedback?

Stephen Lynott, owner of Century 21 Macintyre in Farm Point, switched from Xplorenet in Oct. 2009. His service with Wakenet is “much better than it ever was” with the competitor, and is very happy. Greg Snyder in Edelweiss switched in May of 2009 and loves it. “I find it’s faster than what we had in the city.” He does a lot of downloading and streaming YouTube with ease. He said Kingsley is really good at sending out emails when service is disrupted.

How do I sign up?

Contact Kingsley and he will do a site survey to make sure Wakenet is available to you. For more information, visit the website at www.wakenet.ca.

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