VRN: A0026600C ARBN: 081 355 722 ABN: 74 766 293 648


Garry Ford

This is the last year of the millennium if we use the original Arabic / European numeric system which does not recognise a value of zero. Thus next year sees the dawn of the new millennium. With this dawn comes what is in all likelyhood, APANA’s greatest challenge ­ survival!

The past year has seen APANA’s membership drop by over 100 members. This can be contributed to several factors:

(a) the official recognition of the need for only one member of a household sharing a single connection to join,

(b) greater competition within the ISP industry meaning that many ISPs now charge much less than APANA can with its voluntary work force,

(c) the proliferation of free ISP services in the larger market places ­ This started in Melbourne last year and has now become a problem in Sydney,

(d) the use of cable connections, where available, for permanent connections at around the same price as an APANA semi-permanent connection.

A further threat is the imminent introduction of ADSL to the marketplace.

As a result, most of the year has been spent consolidating APANA operations Australia wide. Several proposals for funding grants have been examined but APANA does not meet the requirements in most cases. We currently only serve the already well serviced metropolitan and very large regional areas, in the case of New South Wales. The one scheme that does offer funding to us ­ the Advanced Network Program, is extremely competitive, and APANA does not have the infrastructure necessary to support an application on its own. It needs to find a partner with those skills before an application can even be considered. This matter is being looked into.

I cannot say it has been pleasing presiding over a declining membership, however I believe the Management Committee has found a solution to our problems. Part of this solution may see a need to reorganise our regional structure, as more members become members of the Independently Connected Region, when they gain their connection outside of APANA hubs, as cable, ISDN, and ADSL compete.

The Future

APANA must concentrate on its strengths ­ those things an ISP just cannot provide to customers. To adequately do this we have to re-examine our roots. APANA was set up as a self-help co-operative body where people could learn the ISP business, networking, and generally experiment with the Internet and related areas. Over the years our beginnings have been forgotten, as APANA more and more became just like an ISP only providing cheaper Internet connectivity that any ISP could match. Those days have long gone and even small to medium ISPs will soon be fighting for survival as the large Telcos ­ Telstra and Optus provide ADSL that will eventually obliterate the need for dial in modem connections and thus ISPs, as we know them. We will be left with around three large ISPs at the most because of the nature of the technology and its high capital costs.

Where does this leave APANA?

Firstly, APANA is already a commercial customer of some of the big three and we are seen not to be in competition with them. The result is at least two of them are currently negotiating with APANA regarding ADSL technologies and other connectivity proposals.

Secondly, at least for the immediate future, APANA has a very valuable asset ­ a very large number of the old C Class sub-nets. As a result APANA can offer all its members fixed IP addresses. This is something no ISP can easily do, not even the large ones, to most of their customers even when IPV6 finally comes in. This is the basis of the Management Committee’s plan for survival.

Until recently, there was only APANA and expensive privately run training institutions that offered any chance of training in aspects of the ISP business. Now most TAFEs offer networking courses, however the students lack the ability to practice on a live network, what they are learning. Here is where APANA comes in to its own. APANA has a network that encourages active participation in its day to day running by its members. No ISP can offer this.

Further the APANA membership is the repository of a wide body of technical knowledge gained from years of presence in the Internet and networking industries: many of the most knowledgeable people in the industry are APANA members. This knowledge is available for sharing amongst all our members, and the general public, via our newsgroups and our new training school.

For these reasons the Management Committee believes regions should not be targeting the general public for membership ­ they can get that cheaper elsewhere with full help desk support ­ but rather students at TAFE Colleges and universities. APANA can provide those students with a live network to practice their skills upon. In addition, some of the larger ISPs are prepared to work with APANA in this regard because of our IP address asset, once technical problems of connectivity have been overcome. APANA can provide a network to them for experimental purposes such as WA’s new wireless link.

Training School

The Management Committee has resolved to take the matter of training even further. Currently a C Class has been dedicated as a training network. Three computers have been purchased, and several more are on loan. Classes in basic operating systems and advanced networking features are going to be offered, initially in Brisbane Region. This training school has been established at the President’s home and will be permanently on-line. Students of the training school will be able to login from anywhere to use the machines to experiment with using different operating systems and configurations. In addition, the school has already published a novices FreeBSD installation guide. Many thanks to Doug Young for the days of work has already dedicated to this project. The total concept is that members may join the training classes for a nominal amount per session and members of the public for a much larger amount. Hands on classes will be initially be offered at the Brisbane School, while restricted on-line activities will be available Australia-wide. Eventually it is hoped each region can establish a hands on training school to be part of the training network.

It is understood Perth Region also has similar one-off type sessions for its members. While the idea of the training school is only in its infancy and only $830 of the budgeted $1,000 has been spent, it is planned to have a demonstration running at the AGM. It is up to the members to find solutions to APANA’s immediate problems. This is just one that the Management Committee is currently exploring. If successful, it has the potential to take APANA in a completely new direction as well as opening up new funding prospects in the educational arena.


A big issue uncovered by APANA members during the year was that of Telstra charging for timed local calls. This problem, which Telstra claims was a fault in the System 12 software, first came to light in September 1999 as various members with semi-permanent phone connections received very large telephone bills. While Telstra has not released publicly how many subscribers Australia-wide were affected it is believed, from documents at hand, it could be in the hundreds of thousands.

In view of the fact members had to involve the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman to force Telstra to deal with this issue, and it still took six months for Telstra to admitted the problem existed, one is left to ponder what the outcome might have been without the Australia wide evidence presented by APANA. APANA obviously has a place in any telecommunications watchdog activity.

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Membership

Earlier this year the Australian Communications Authority ruled that the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Scheme does not apply to APANA; therefore APANA does not require seeking exemption from it. However, this does not mean some members who operate as pseudo ISPs in Victoria do not have to individually join. The Management Committee recommends they seek their own legal advice on the matter.

To conclude, I would like to thank all the members who have helped during the past twelve months. Without your contribution, no matter how small, the progress of APANA would have been hindered considerably. In particular I wish to thank Dean Hollister for being such a good secretary, John Childs for his continuing stewardship as Treasurer, Mirko Fluher for his work as Membership Secretary, both Scott Neville and lately Brian Harvard for being Hostmaster, and finally all the MC reps and Regional Co-ordinators who have kept APANA alive and well in their regions.

A special thanks has to go to our Honorary Legal Advisor, Jeremy Malcolm who has been called upon more than usual for dealing with the perennial problem of the Church of Scientology which just does not seem to understand plain English ­ go away until you give us the information we have asked for. Unfortunately they have now even involved Telstra in their baseless dispute with one of our more vocal Victorian members.

Lastly, very special thanks to our retiring conscience, or should I say Public Officer. All the MC mailing list will miss those witticisms and conscious pricking questions John Fisher raises from time to time.

Together all these members have truly shown the spirit of APANA membership, especially in their caring and support for myself when I had some personal problems several months back. It makes one really appreciate their APANA membership. Thank you everyone for your help and support. Unfortunately, it means I am unable to attend the AGM this year so please accept my apologies.


Dean Hollister

My first year as Secretary of our association has proven itself to be quite a challenge. I have had the luxury of reviewing the President’s Report before putting fingers to keyboard.


First and foremost - the blood of APANA.











Down 58





Up 20





Up 22


Independently Connected Members



Down 1





Down 47


Northern Wollongong



Up 37





Down 39


South Australia



Down 35





Down 67





Down 168


Healthy membership increases in Brisbane, Hunter and Northern Wollongong have merely helped to reduce the overall decline in membership. As Independently Connected Members Region has not displayed any increase, it cannot be viewed as a possible cause for membership nearly halving in the Melbourne Region.

Sydney Region is of grave concern, recording a membership drop close to 60%. Perth Region’s reduction is inline with the trend of a generally perceived rationalisation of the online industry in Western Australia.

Northern Wollongong once again has demonstrated remarkable growth, and credit is extended to Joel Moir/Chris Roughsedge and their administration team for dedication, perseverance and commitment to APANA.

Membership Database

Mirko Fluher has been progressing towards moving the Membership Database off it’s current server “nitrogen” and onto either “pax” or “national”.

The implementation of BPAY for APANA Membership payments was explored in November 1999 and was completed in mid-December.

With the introduction of BPAY to the Membership Database, all Member numbers were increased by one additional digit (or check digit). This change results in the Member number and BPAY Reference number being identical, in turn preventing confusion.

Melbourne Region has implemented a volume-charging regime for its MASs (Member Access Sites). These volume-charging fees are automatically uploaded to the database from the Melbourne Region. The system has been running most of the year and works well.

National Server

This year has seen the commissioning of a national NNTP News Server. Running the excellent DNews Server Software, this new server carries the APANA newsgroups exclusively. Access is available to this server from all APANA Owned IP addresses and other IPs by request. Full feeds of the APANA newsgroups are also available to any member wishing to receive one. Access/posting to APANA Newsgroups is restricted to APANA Members only.

All mail exchanging for the ‘’ domain has been transferred to the national server, including Member aliases, Regional Committee aliases and Officer/Host/News Master aliases. This transfer has resulted in one additional advantage: the ability to control access to national APANA mail services, either by IP or domain. This alone has seen a significant reduction in SPAM attacks on official APANA email addresses.

Our national machine this year fell victim to a major software crash, requiring a complete rebuild/upgrade of the machine to FreeBSD 4.1.1. The base APANA Web Pages are back in place and other pages will return gradually, as time permits. A warm personal thanks to all members for their understanding and support during this process.

Official Document Register

Scanning and uploading of all APANA correspondence and important documents has continued during the year, with only a handful of larger documents remaining.

Minutes of all Management Committee meetings, AGMs and SGMs have been converted to HTML, and will progressively appear on the National Web Pages.

Property Rights

In February 2000, APANA formally lodged an application to register the well-known abbreviation “APANA” as a Trademark of the association. This action protects APANA’s name from deliberate or accidental misuse by Spammers and other organisations/companies/individuals. A ruling on the Trademark is expected December 2000/January 2001.

The registration under category “38” (On-line services), may prove instrumental in addressing the removal of APANA newsgroups from non-APANA owned/operated systems within Australia, and then worldwide, upon eventual ratification of Trademark Treaties by the Australian Government.

All APANA members (and the general public) are reminded that all official documents appearing on APANA Websites or delivered via APANA owned/operated mail exchangers/servers are owned by APANA and thus covered by copyright legislation (and international treaties). APANA will fully pursue any individual breaching APANA’s copyright, as guaranteed under legislation.

Members are also reminded to respect the ownership/copyright of others’ works. A work’s appearance on a foreign Web Server does not always indicate that it is ‘public domain’ and its appearance on a Web Site may have in fact occurred without the owner’s consent.

APANA has this year received [unsubstantiated] copyright complaints from individuals/groups representing the “Church of Scientology”. Unpleasant dealings with this organisation further emphasise the importance of respecting copyright.

Finally, on a personal note, my commitment to the position of Secretary significantly increased my workload to a point where I was unable to continue as Region Co-ordinator for the Perth Region. I must extend a very warm thank you to Jeremy Malcolm, Paul “PJ” Connolly and the Perth Regional Committee for their support and comradeship over my four years’ service to the Perth Region. Your hard work for the good of APANA and our Perth Members is gratefully appreciated and highly respected.

John Childs

This completes my fourth year as Treasurer.

A copy of APANA's official 1999/2000 Financial Return is appended and for the fourth year there has been a decline in our financial position.

I find it difficult to find positives to highlight my report. On occasion I have thoughts similar to those that a treasurer of a "Banana Republic" might have. How do we continue to provide a minimum of services with declining income and increasing expenses while the population want improved services with decreased charges.

Coming to grips with the GST has proved more of a challenge than the full-page advertisements in our local newspapers suggest. APANA will shortly be lodging the first Business Activity Statement. The BAS will include net GST (charges less input credits) of approximately $5,500 together with our first quarterly payment (approx $300.00) of Income Tax under the new Pay as You Go taxation system.

To assist with the transition to GST and allow a simple transition of APANA accounts to my successor I used the governments $200.00 GST Start-up voucher to acquire a copy of the MYOB Accounting package. Our accounts are gradually being transferred to the new package and within a short time I should be able to provide regions with more detailed monthly statements of Fees Received and Outgoings.

As always when extending personal thanks one tends to overlook individuals. I thank Dean for the work he has done on my behalf (BPay set-up and implementation), Garry for the prompt checking and countersigning of payments (approx. 260 cheques for $190,000 in value) and to all those unnamed members who have had the dubious pleasure of trying to "sort out" Telstra and ISP overcharges and undercharges (yes, there was one). And a special thank you to Cindy, my wife, who tolerates but fails at times to understand how anyone can get any pleasure at producing a balanced set of accounts.


Australian Capital Territory

Edwin Gibbons

A number of changes have happened in the ACT over the last year, which the committee has tried to cope with to reduce the impact on the members.

We were encouraged by the election a new regional coordinator, who brought a new vigour and vision to the committee; sadly he had to move for health reasons after a few months to a sunnier climate.

On the 30 June, responsibility for Internet connectivity devoted to each member access site as the agreement between ACT APANA and our previous provider lapsed.

Amalgamation of member access sites reduced the number of sites from four dialup and one "perm" connection site to three dialup sites.

The commencement of broadband cabling throughout the ACT by "TransACT", (a commercial offshoot of our electricity and water company), in the next few months promises telephone, TV, video on demand, and .5M to 5M (local) internet connectivity within months to three year timescale. Combined with Optus cable and more vigorous marketing by ISPs recently, any future as a provider of Internet connectivity "only" looks bleak.

All of the above events, in addition to the significant number of members choosing not to renew, (opposed only by the few new "friends and family" memberships), has caused us to ponder the form APANA ACT must cast itself into, if it is to survive.

These are interesting times indeed.

Gary Richardson

Successful year for Brisbane

In the last year we have upgraded from 33.6kpbs link into Telstra Big Pond to 64KB ISDN link into Big Pond into 128KB ISL link into Asia On Line back to 64K ISL link into Asia On Line.

Close relationship APANA Brisbane has with Asia On Line (previously Brisbane Internet Technology) has proven a great advantage to Brisbane especially when it comes to pricing.

Currently have 33 telephone lines into our main server ( 10 of these being dedicated to Dial-In Users.

We have continued to experience problems with Telstra in one instance taking 5 months to transfer 4 telephone lines. Line rental not being charged at the non-profit discount. All outstanding issues with Telstra have now been rectified.

BRC will be having their 2000 AGM Saturday 30th September 2000

Membership has grown in the last year from 71 to 88 (not including 5 guest users currently trailing our system).

Brisbane has introduced a Club Area allowing APANA members to communicate with other Members. Currently club area permits APANA members to search for other APANA (Brisbane) members by Postcode and knowledge level. Also members are able to send "broadcast" emails to other Club Members if so required (an example would be asking for help with Access, etc).

Club area also contains notice boards allowing members to post notices. File Sharing Area - Club Members can upload/download/share files with other club members. Also a Training Area - Current session being Share Trading. Area has proved quite successful.

Club Area can only be accessed by APANA Brisbane Members connected to APANA Brisbane (this stops all the riffraff coming in)

On the financial front our current income (from membership) is $23,264pa (not including National Component). Cost of ISL link and Phone lines $19,764.60pa. GST on income received: $2,114.91pa, GST input credit GST input credit $1,796.78pa, overall Brisbane being in the black $3,181.27pa (Figures are only indicative and are mainly used by Brisbane to monitor incoming/outgoing costs)

Dial-In User/MODEM ratio 66:10 (7 dial in member per MODEM)

Our 64K ISL link does get congested during peak hours we are holding back any upgrade until alternative, cheaper, access can be located.

We have lost one member to Telstra's cable service. Anticipate an increase in members migrating over to cable.

Gargoyle is urgently waiting for an O/S upgrade to FreeBSD 4.1. Unfortunately current version is so far back a "tiered" upgrade has to be preformed. Upgrade mainly required so O/S will accept additional Cyclade boxes.

Carolyn Baird

Over the past year the Hunter Region has been able to achieve almost all the goals that we set ourselves at this time last year.

1. The money advance to us by the National body for the purpose of relocation of the hub has been fully repaid.

2. The goal of 50 members has been surpassed. Our current membership is 58 - an increase of 22 members since the last AGM.

3. Despite periodic electrical supply problems and equipment failures, the downtimes of our network have been only a fraction of the downtimes of our feeder and other ISPs (according to the number of 'host unknown' bounces I regularly receive from my mailing lists).

4. After major problems with our OzEmail connection at the beginning of the year - the only remaining problem appears to be frequent dropouts of that connection as evidenced by increased call costs on our phone bills.

5. Failure of OzEmail to bill us since last October was finally sorted out mid-year with the help of the Treasurer.

6. Our previous backup link to Dragon has been replaced with a 56K link to Dingoblue. The new link appears to be meeting our needs and functioning much better than anticipated. It is also less than 10% of the cost of our OzEmail link so it has proven to be an economical way of providing extra bandwidth for our members.

7. Every effort was made during the past year to reduce expenditure until such time as there were sufficient funds for the purchase of a UPS. Agreement as to which one to buy is the only thing delaying that now.

8. Hunter currently has an anticipated yearly income of $8,900 with ISP charges (using last month's figures which were the highest they have been in recent months) amounting to an estimated $7,350. This should allow us an amount of $1,550 to spend on the network during the next 12 months given that our current membership remains constant.

9. The most noticeable thing about the region from my point of view is that over the last 6 months I have received no complaints from members. If there's a problem I get phone calls or email asking if I'm aware of it, but all members now appear to appreciate that the Admin Team will rectify the problem ASAP.

Apart from the occasional member with a personal computer-related problem, the regional members have been exceptionally quiet in recent months, which I take as a sign that everything is running smoothly and all is well in the Hunter Region.

Independently Connected Members
John Fisher

The region was formed just prior to the AGM last year by a small group of members with “independent” Internet connections. Membership currently stands at approx 32. Growth has been slow, it was hoped that some members "leaving" other regions for "faster-cheaper" ISP's might have maintained their APANA memberships via ICR, this has only happened to a small degree.

We would urge any member who is in the process of obtaining their connectivity from sources other than APANA’s own infrastructure to consider maintaining their APANA membership via the ICR region. During the year four members of the region have installed cable-internet connections.

All in all a "steady as she goes" year with nothing outstanding to report.

Donovan Baarda

The year began in controversy with the Melbourne region threatening to split from APANA and running candidates at the AGM on a platform of increased regional independence. After this flare of political activity, most of the region has largely withdrawn from national politics and has instead focused on the fun of playing with our regional network.

We have had some fun with hackers compromising machines, hardware failures, and basic pilot error. We have seen the quality of our power degrade under privatisation to the point where modem lockups from brownouts are the norm, and are the prime suspect in the death of a PC Power Supply. However, given that this has been our first year without the aid of people like Ed, Chris, and Scott, I think we've done pretty well.

We have gained a few new sites, and lost a few old ones. Total membership numbers have continued to decline as we have moved from a club of casual dialups to a club of permanent connections. We are starting to see a revival in the "hard-core" network enthusiasts who want to experiment with networking, not just get cheap net access, particularly with things like radio modem networks starting to get rolling.

Some of our major achievements for this year have been; giving Mirko the national HDD, paying Chris back all the money we owed him, getting $3100 out of Telstra, setting up a proper firewall, and re-organising the hub machines.

Some of our major been-meaning-to-do-this-ages-ago un-achievements to try and finally knock over in the coming year are; getting UPS's for the hub, finalising the hub network re-arrangement, installing a bug-tracking system, getting some radio links in place, and recruiting some new helpers. A budget would be good too.

Northern Wollongong
Joel Moir

Wollongong is chugging along fine. Nothing unusual to report, membership remains stable, and so does our link.

The service has been relatively stable, with no major problems. Any problems that arise are generally fixed with a reboot of the main server.

Ben Hitchcock has been looking after day to day operations of the server, a big thank you to Ben.

Jeremy Malcolm

This year has been a mixed one for the WA region. Membership currently stands at 155, down from 194 at this time last year, although still making us the largest region within APANA. This has come as a result of a number of members "dropping off" and going to cheaper and/or faster commercial ISPs (APANA can no longer claim to offer the cheapest Internet connections in Perth) and also due to a very low level of new subscriptions in recent times. It was not long ago that I was processing three new member applications per week, but lately I am lucky to receive one per month.

On the up side, we are endeavouring to refocus our organisation more along the lines of a networking club than a hobby ISP, by holding workshops and similar events for members and other interested parties to attend. So far there have been three successful workshops (the last of these, on wireless networking, was particularly well-attended), and we also had a presence at the Perth Linux Users Group Install fest on 24 September.

We are maintaining our ISDN link at 128kbps, but have decommissioned our 128kbps link to the WA Internet Exchange (WAIX), which was proving too expensive to maintain and was under-utilised. We are now obtaining a newsfeed through our main link rather than through a subsidiary link and thankfully fears about the sustainability of this arrangement have not been realised.

Our network has remained reasonably static during the year. It consists of four main machines, Odyssey, Defiant, Voyager and Excelsior. We have two routers, two serial panels, two rotaries, 22 rotary lines mostly with Netcomm Roadsters, and various other modems supplied by our permanent members for their use. Apart from minor System upgrades and UPS trouble, there has been no substantial variation to our physical network.

Our application for Commonwealth Government funding under its Networking the Nation project fell by the wayside during the year due to a lack of interest by the would-be Geraldton system operator, Steve Branch. An expression of interest from the South West also failed to progress. However we remain keen to expand our network elsewhere in the State through Member Access Sites (of which the region currently only has, arguably, one).

Although Perth/WA region's expansion has been reversed this year we are keen to learn from the experiences of other regions in order to assess what we may do to try to build up our membership once again.

South Australia
Dave Edwards

This year has been quiet in SA. New faces in the Admin team have helped make it a success.

We have been running with a 2Mb feed from Chariot now for a year and it has been fantastic. Outages are rare (only 2 in the year) but the last one was nearly 24 hrs. Recent moves to a different charging mechanism have forced us to look elsewhere and we will be moving to Internode within a few weeks. The installation fee is going to hurt our pocket but we've got a lot of confidence with the people involved and I'm sure it's going to work out well.

Our members have been extremely patient with us. Our new (borrowed) modem rack gave us some stressful times for a while until we finally bedded it in. Seems a lot better recently so I'm hoping that the dialup members are ok with the change now. I've not seen a complaint for a month or so anyway.

Plans are well in hand for the coming AGM even though it was quite a shock to find we had to host it this year. Martin Bull has earned the gratitude of the whole RC in picking this one up and running with it and I'm sure it's going to be a success.

We've had a lot of interest in putting in wireless links, however none of the admin team has been able to find the time to do the research at the hub end to see how much it might cost. The hub is in a prime spot in the City for wireless connections and the building manager seems willing to talk about aerials on the roof. I'm hoping that we will get someone to join the admin team with a need for such a link and put the time in to get it off the ground. The RC still has to decide on how this would get charged to wireless connected members though.

Membership is dropping and that is becoming a concern to the RC. We have looked at a few options but nothing has come out of it so far. The Regional General Meeting will give us a chance to put this back on the agenda.

All in all, we've had a good year and see no reason why it shouldn't continue for the next.

John August

In terms of the services provided, the Sydney region is quite healthy. Our Sydney hub has had few outages, and members have been able to utilise the link both interactively and for large downloads. Members have been using the batch ftp service to download 50M Doom files, for example.

In terms of the Regional Committee and admin group, we have a group of positive people who work well together and have a long-term commitment to APANA Sydney. We have enough people that the workload of maintaining the region is reasonably well distributed; and there is a definite sense of community.

Sometimes changes and improvements take some time to implement, but I cannot imagine this being that bad for a volunteer group.

During this year we have made two substantial changes: we have installed a set of rack mount modems, and changed our ISP to SGT Internet. I had hoped the installation of the rack modems would be without drama; members of the admin group met the challenge and found their way past problems which arose. There were problems with the SGT connection, and SGT themselves delayed us based on changes being made at their end. But as I write (since the ARM, as the present region coordinator), the change to SGT has been made.

The one problem for the Sydney region is its membership and financial situation. In changing from Telstra to SGT, we will roughly halve our feed cost for a 64k link. In addition, we plan to remove some of our phone links and conduct advertising to increase membership.

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