For 16 years, ADnet operated as an original Community Based Network (CBN) in Northern Ontario, working to establish broadband connectivity in the region. Alongside sister organizations in North Bay, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, and Timmins, the Thessalon-based ADnet worked to facilitate global telecommunications networks for communities throughout the Algoma District. With the help of government funding through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Cooperation (NOHFC), ADnet became one of the driving forces that brought the technological revolution of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries to the Algoma region.
ADnet was founded in 1998 with four core principals. ADnet was established:
- To facilitate access to global telecommunications networks for members of the Algoma region;
- To coordinate the development and implementation of information technology-based applications for various sectors;
- To facilitate community awareness of telecommunications and information technology to identify and promote economic, social, and cultural developmental opportunities; and
- To research and develop new technologies to support the above technologies.
In addition, ADnet was also an important player in the private-public partnerships, acting as the connecting link between the private information computer technology (ICT) network industry and the public end-users.
Some of ADnet’s most notable accomplishments were obtaining funding to extend cellular telephone service along Highway 17 North and Highway 101; managing the installation of broadband Internet connectivity to 17 libraries throughout the Algoma region; founding a Northern Ontario wide association of CBNs; publishing the blog “Adnet in Algoma” to keep residents up to date on information technology developments; coordinating NOHFC funding applications to lead major information technology upgrades at medical clinics in Bruce Mines and Richards Landing; among others.
In 2014, ADnet closed having fulfilled its original mandate. “Basic ICT infrastructure in the form of broadband and cellular telephony in one manner or another was available to the majority of the residents in the Algoma District…The basic copper-based technology of ADnet’s founding days in 1998 had progressed to [a] stage in 2014 where wireless cellular broadband c[ould] provide faster and more comprehensive services,” said the last Executive Director of ADnet Wilf Lefresne. The ADnet Board foresaw the future as one of never-ending improvement and technological change. “In their opinion, it now [was] up to the private sector to carry on and expand the networks. The ADnet Board made the decision to voluntarily wrap-up ADnet.”
With the closure of ADnet, provincial regulations mandated that leftover funds from the not-for-profit organization had to be allocated to another not-for-profit. “Thus, the decision was made to donate the funds to the scholarship funds of the two higher education institutions in the Algoma District. The initial contribution was $10,000 to each school. It was felt by the Board that assisting the graduation of ICT personnel would have a long-term positive impact on the Algoma District.” Through the funds generously donated by ADnet, the ADnet Bursary has been created, providing a $1,000 bursary award to a full-time first-year student enrolled in the Bachelor of Computer Science program (preference is given to a student specializing in Information Technology).
Written by: Meaghan Kent