Whilst the regional committees and new members of the Management Committee have done an excellent job of adjusting to the new structure and maintaining the core services that keep APANA running, they are only half the picture.
All the people without official positions within APANA who dedicate their own time, expertise, hardware and other resources towards making sure that people can access our network and learn from it, are our most scarce and valuable resources.
Given our continued growth in the face of commercial Internet providers, we can only assume that our approach and ideals still hold a great deal of interest for the general public, from the uninitiated through to the most experienced network professionals.
As we continue to increase in size, with our numbers at least doubling each year so far, the contributions of time and knowledge that each member makes will become even more important than they are now.
Some jobs, such as maintaining the APANA membership and services database, inevitably become too large to be done on a volunteer basis and in 95/96 we will be looking at having our database maintained on a paid basis for the first time. There will be many other tasks to be completed as we grow, however, and it is only by maintaining the enthusiasm that has brought us so far that APANA can continue to provide the services and assistance to the general community that have earned us our reputation.
We can be proud that APANA provides not only a means of connecting to the Internet without building up someone else's bank balance, but also gives each of us the opportunity to participate in the running, maintenance and direction of our organisation.
Shane Alderton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sadly, this year saw the passing of one of our most dedicated volunteers, Warwick Hockley. During the many years that Warwick was in APANA, he acted as National Contact, Melbourne Contact, was a member of the Management Committee and acted as our Publicity Officer. Warwick took most of the media inquiries, countless member enquiries and was the first point of contact for many of APANA's current members. He was one of the greatest contributors to APANA and a good friend to many of us. He will be sorely missed.
Shane Alderton (email@example.com)
September 1994 September 1995 ACT 30 ACT 102 Brisbane 20 Brisbane 62 Melbourne 260 Melbourne 467 Northern Territory 4 Northern Territory 17 Perth 1 Perth 66 South Australia 87 South Australia 213 Sydney 195 Sydney 314 Other 21 Other 15 Total 618 Total 1256 Total in September 1993: 137 members
The regionalisation of APANA, a process set in train at a Special General Meeting in October '94, appears to have gone remarkably smoothly. All areas which were expected to apply for official region status have done so. Adjusting to the new approach will take a little longer though, as regions become more familiar with what is required of them with regard to management of the region and the relationship between the region and the rest of APANA.
Many of the concerns expressed late last year about increasing competition from commercial Internet service-providers and the ability of APANA to absorb the impact of a more than doubling of rates charged by our major supplier, Connect.com.au, appear not to have been borne out. While some regions have been forced to move to "second tier" providers in order to cut costs, no region has yet sought financial assistance to cover its liabilities. Neither has APANA suffered significantly from increased competition in the commercial service-provider market, which APANA competes with, indirectly. While the Management Committee made the deliberately conservative estimate that 700 members would renew or join in 1995, it could not have predicted that membership growth would continue, more or less, unabated.
The changes in the APANA network largely reflect the evolution of the wider Internet. The use of dial-up SLIP/PPP has increased dramatically as the software has become more widely available and easier to use during the Worldwide Web's phenomenal growth. That old faithful, UUCP, has long ceased to be the protocol of choice among APANA members, though it still serves its purpose. In a time when full IP connectivity is taken for granted, it seems almost inconceivable that not long ago, AARNet affiliates were shackled by 4Mb/month mail limits and other arcane restrictions. Another significant development is the moves APANA has made towards owning the network it operates. While most of the network is still held together by machines belonging to individual members and probably always will be, the network hubs in the various regions are coming to be wholly or partly owned by APANA itself, primarily because it makes for a more stable hub which is more easily upgraded. Core.apana.org.au is a prime example.
Geoffrey Newman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The ACT region has seen exciting growth since April 1993 when we first directly connected to the Internet. At that time, with only 10 UUCP connected members, we took the plunge, and now in less than 18 months we have over 100 full members. Currently we support a 28.8 kbps IP link but we all hope that by our second anniversary we will see an ISDN connection established for the region.
One of the biggest developments this year is seeing the APANA model take shape in the ACT. A year ago we supported only one Public Access Site in addition to the regional hub. We now have five Public Access Sites offering the people of Canberra APANA access, and another two waiting to come on-line when the phone lines are available.
The forecast for the future: Continuing steady growth with smiles all round.
Paul McConnell (email@example.com)
On the the network side, our prayers of stable networking were answered around July. After the long awaited arrival of two cyclades cards, and the replacement of the Router Motherboard, we have now enjoyed months of reliability.
Our Network Provider changed from Connect.Com.Au to Datanet.Net.au. This was for a variety of reasons, including improved network access (Now on a 28.8kbp link shared with Datanet on lower priority, but never less than 9600 BPS) and reduced cost. So far all seems well, although as always we are endeavoring to find better solutions.
Membership has increased, with over $5,800 being earned by membership fees. We now have Dialup PPP, Permanent SLIP, and quite a few public-access sites with Shell access, with a new UUCP node based further north, allowing UUCP access from the Sunshine Coast at a reduced cost.
All in all it has been a good year, with the prospect of many more members arriving as the hype on the Internet increases. I guess we will see.
Ed Beaumont (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Major achievements during the first term of the Melbourne Regional Committee are:
Frank Copeland (email@example.com)
We are not the capital of the NT yet we dominate the Territory for internet connections; we are the hub site and have a feed site situated in Darwin. This is the equivalent of Wodonga being the hub for Victoria and feeding Melbourne or, in NSW, Goulburn feeding Sydney.
Anyway, suffice to say it's an unusual situation where a regional centre leads the way and the state capital follows.
APANA NT held its inaugural meeting/bbq recently and petitioned the MC for regional status. We felt it was time for the ordinary member to come together to support and learn from each other. They can now cast a vote and have some say in how we will utilise our APANA funds and what area of growth they'd like to see.
With a leased line which costs turtle $15,000 p.a. it will continue to be a slow rate of progress and any increases in bandwidth to core.apana.org.au in Melbourne will be a long way off. We've decided it's quality and service that counts. Our machines are fast and efficient and we provide an excellent and well utilised gopher and ftp site, all designed to keep pressure off the bandwidth and give our members new and exciting things to play with each day.
We have 6 incoming dialup lines as well as several permanent slip connected members. So here's to the future of APANA .
Robert Nagy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The South Australian regional committee drew mainly upon the membership of the South Australian IP Advisory Committee (SAIPAC) for its composition. John Lindsay and Mark Newton were elected as Regional Coordinator and Deputy Regional Coordinator, with Leigh Hart and David G. Wallace gaining the positions of Regional Representatives.
In addition to the wins we've had over the last 12 months, we've also had some rather alarming departures. After a prolonged slide, APANIX's ownership was handed over to the operators of Frisbee Internet. Shortly after that event, the new and somewhat weightier Frisbee decided to turn commercial, and announced its intention to split from APANA.
In addressing that departure, we've reviewed our "tier" system for permanent IP access, and are embarking on a plan to obtain 64k ISDN connectivity by January 1996. The time leading up to this year's AGM has had a general feeling of renewed optimism and vitality, possibly sparked by the fact that 64k represents a tangible goal to aim at.
Mark Newton (email@example.com)
The Sydney hub has moved from several machines running PC ROUTE to a single machine running Linux. Due to quite a bit of work by Shane Alderton, the Sydney hub is now running in a very trouble free manner.
A budget was prepared at the beginning of '95 with the aim of enabling the region to purchase needed equipment rather than relying on individual donations. The outcome of this budget was the raising of membership fees from $50 to $115 per year and the addition of a $50 joining fee. The fee is a "one fee covers all" approach and allows the member to get UUCP, Shell, Slip/PPP access, with most sites offering up to two hours per day access for APANA members.
The issue of affiliate membership was discussed at length and was resolved by allocating each Apana member a quota of 1 Mb per day external bandwidth. Sites generating external bandwidth in excess of their APANA member's quota are required to pay for the excess bandwidth on an exponentially increasing scale. This allows small sites to start at low cost but strongly discourages the growth of large affiliate sites. The result of this policy has been to prevent the Sydney network from becoming heavily bogged down and is seen as a very fair allocation of resources.
The response from the membership has been quite positive, with several members commenting on the quality of service. Twelve months ago the membership stood at around 160 members. The current membership is now around 320 members with continued growth. The SRC has set a goal of moving to a 64K ISDN feed when the membership of the region reaches 350 members.
Overall, the last year has seen a considerable improvement in the level of satisfaction of members and a consolidation of the idea of APANA as a community and a cooperative.
Paul Black (firstname.lastname@example.org)