Basic Structure

Budgets for 1, 2 and 3 years were prepared for decision-making. The Trust approved a connection fee of $320 and monthly rent of $50. This was expected to cover the cost of purchasing and installing WiKarekare's equipment and overheads and, after an anticipated period of 3 years, pay off the infrastructure costs (shared equipment for monitoring and distributing traffic). This expectation now includes unplanned systems administration (see below). Although a second ADSL line was anticipated, this also turned out costly. WiKarekare purchased the wireless internet network as a going concern on the 31st March, 2005, taking out a loan for the price of the materials only. ($4815.18) Some parts, separately itemized, had been purchased by Wikarekare Trust as new stock. The labour for the development of the system was voluntary. Only an agreed amount for equipment manufacture and configuration was approved for payment. WiKarekare took out contracts for labour including the wireless internet network as purchased (and going); the understanding was that as funds accumulated payment on these invoices would be possible. Subsequently WiKarekare approved contracts for general maintenance of equipment and, later, for the maintenance of the system. All systems administration has been carried out under contract. Original Trustees included one experienced professional who has devoted much time to improving on the original wireless network. The systems administration contract covers most of what is needed to maintain connectivity. Complaints do suggest improvements. Work is approved by the Trustees, sometimes in retrospect. Records are kept of decisions; frequently Trust business is conducted by email Trustee meetings, as allowed for in the Trust Deed. All normal accounting practices are followed.

Current Operation

Fees intially were expected to cover all use of the internet through WiKarekare's connection. We have found, however, that since the statistics are available on the website, other subscribers having problems connecting as happens from time to time if someone has a big download or a large email is going out, take issue with the apparent unfairness. This is being addressed technically; also it signals a review of the scale of charges e.g. higher charges for higher total usage. As total usage is likely to increase (average per subscriber) the charges will be monthly rental for a fixed total individual usage plus a surcharge invoiced monthly for excess usage.

Subscriber Relationships

We have found that expectations are high (based on comparisons with fibre- and/or copper-based connections). While many subscribers appreciate that we are lucky to have what we have got, it is sometimes difficult to justify the cost of the system and the relationship of the charges to our perception of WiKarekare Trust as a community service rather than a business entity. We are currently applying for charitable (non-profit) status with the tax department on the basis that we intend to connect any local community facilities (anchor tenants) to whom broadband internet would be of significant use. Other country areas utilise their local wireless internet network for video conferencing among small rural schools, for example. While this is not possible until WiKarekare has significant spare funds, education about Wikarekare and wireless internet is a purpose served by this website. Hopefully it will inform enough to replace the individual explanations usually the result of a fault. These can range from loss of connectivity due to other user traffic, from a power cut requiring equipment to be rebooted to complete cessation of service from the outside e.g. when two separate fibre-optic cables were severed on opposite sides of New Zealand. Internet traffic in general is slow at times - heavy use, inadequacy of equipment, signal travel time are all factors.In the interim a significant part of at least two Trustees' spare time has been required for education both general and technical about the system. Many of these problems have been dramatically reduced by a freer market for high-speed internet which supplies WiKarekare's connection to the outside world. With a larger subscriber base there would be justification for employing, at least part-time, a "trouble-shooter"/information person. This website is intended to be the chief vehicle of our mission. Initially we thought that it would serve as the prime resource for information, both for current status (since Wikarekare website is available without recourse to outside internet) and for education about the wireless network. In practice, however, this has not been entirely successful. It is easier to phone soemone to ping your router (especially if it is not responding) and in any case if the wireless network is down the website is inaccessible. Relations with subscribers have been maintained by phone calls and/or emails; we have experience many and varied faults over time. All this has, thanks to everyone's community spirit, resulted in enhancements (thanks to other wireless groups Links) Most of the quality of the system is due to one Trustee's devotion. Future enhancements will be posted below. (Wireless hops reduce speed significantly. Again feedback has highlighted this.)

Current Finance

From the beginning it was obvious that the service would be expensive. While the cheapest method for deploying wireless in Karekare was engineered, the problem of locating and powering the server at a secure and friendly location (house of one of the Trustees) meant that additional wireless hops were required to distribute signals for maximum coverage. Our equipment is capitalised. Depreciation expenses are thus significant, being 30% of capital (paid) value. Manufacturing labour costs are included in the total for depreciation since these are invoiced to WiKarekare by a Trustee in a private capacity. Installation costs, including materials, are considered a current expense. Unfortunately since Wikarekare purchased the wireless network at the end of the first financial year (31.03.05) no depreciation could be claimed against the substantial income total for the first 3 months of operation, mainly fron connection fees. After three years the initial wireless network's paper value depreciates to zero. Improvements continue to be made, so that ongoing costs are high. Honoraria were proposed for duties by the Trustees. (Both the treasurer's and chairperson's responsibilities are heavier than originally envisaged.) This is a token amount given the administrative cost of managing the practical and business affairs of the Trust. Honoraria may be reviewed at any time. The positive side of the system is that we expect the equipment to function adequately for longer than the depreciation period. Thus income should eventually cover innovation and administration in the long term.

Projected Situation

A further development is the Digital Strategy fund proposed to help, among others, remote communities engineer broadband. Wikarekare's application has been processed and aproval given for upgrading the network. At the moment, depending on topology, different subscribers have different connection speeds (a function of the number of wireless "hops" to the outside world). This would be improved by adding dedicated two-way links so that packet traffic will not bottleneck over single relays. Additional software (Frottle) will be installed on each base station to introduce fairness to all users. Equipment and installation costs will be paid for. Funding for research into how to improve the network remains a subject for the future. (E.g. research in the form of the development of a remote low-powered server which will relay statistics to the central location will undoubtedly be shared via this website.) Network design has already been shared here (see antenna prior to the formation of WiKarekare Trust. Similarly development of a step-by-step method to make the waveguide antennas has been posted (see Design Payment for the time involved is budgetted last, although the initial website design has again been substantial gift to the Trust. Information for whom it may concern is based on experience with subscribers' questions. Trust aims are thus to be amply fulfilled.