News / Blog

The Sad State of Broadband in Canada

In response to poor results in recent OECD tables and a number of other benchmarks, Canadian telcos and cablecos have fought back by commissioning a “study” to respond to criticisms about the (in my view abysmal) state of the Canadian broadband market. The author concludes “Canadians have access to some of the most affordable services, while also benefiting from some of the world’s fastest connection speeds for both wireline and wireless broadband services”.

cable modemSadly, it seems only he agrees. In my role at Tucows I have the pleasure of traveling all over the world and having customers who are service providers all over the world. We are always discussing access markets. I could bore you with story after story but very few countries have slower, more expensive access offering than us in Canada. A fantastic study done for the FCC by the Berkman Center for Internet Studies at Harvard is just the most recent to confirm the sad state of broadband in Canada.

It is not that the author is incorrect, rather he is misleading and the document is more of a telco/cableco marketing document than a study. I will identify some specific criticisms.

First, and most importantly, is the definition of “broadband” which sets the benchmark from which all measurement and conclusion flows. The “study” uses 1.5mbs as its threshold. 1.5mbps! I believe this was the launch speed for Bell Canada’s dsl service in 1998. 1.5mbps as “broadband” borders on nostalgic. This, more than anything else, takes this from “study” to “attempt at persuasion”.

It is as if we were talking about hunger and debating how many Canadians are starving. I, and many others, are lamenting how hungry we are. We are complaining that in a country like Canada we should be eating MUCH better. Eating is important for health and innovation and jobs. And the telcos and cablecos have produced a “study” that assures us that we are in great shape. That in fact the whole country has access to a bowl of gruel every day. That we should be celebrating our leadership, not lamenting our laggard status. That we have healthy, competitive markets that are doing just fine thank you very much.

My second complaint is in the $/mbps analysis wherein the author concludes that we are not nearly as bad as other studies indicate. He uses as his sole basis for the analysis a Videotron service that is $80/mo for 50mbps. First, he ignores that this service is very limited in coverage and that a similar service from Rogers is $125/mo. Second, he lauds the fact that this moves us from 28th to 8th on the world tables. Never mind that this is only for OECD countries and that there are dozens of non-OECD countries who have far superior offerings. But 28th to 8th? It is like watching CBC coverage of Canadian athletes in the summer Olympics! “Just look at that top ten finish!”. Last, and most importantly, it completely ignores upstream bandwidth.

Rogers recently launched a 50mbps service to limited areas in Toronto. It is only “up to 2mbps” upstream! Quick story. My son (11) spent last weekend hard at work on a video for a charity project that his class was engaged in. After many hours and missing much of the weekend’s fun he finished his slightly over 3-minute video which naturally included some video clips that were HD. To upload that video to Vimeo took three tries and 45 minutes (and this was after failing to upload on a couple tries to youtube due to ?). Total time spent on the upload was well over two hours. AND, worst of all, after finishing we were obviously placed in to some kind of copyright-infringing bandwidth hogging penalty box at Rogers and the Internet basically crapped out and took some waiting and a number of router reboots to return to normal.

What parent wouldn’t want their son spending hours on the weekend filming, editing, doing voiceovers, poking at software to make a video FOR SCHOOL. FOR CHARITY! sadly, the current Canadian broadband market not only discourages, but punishes this behavior.

I want, and there is no reason we cannot have, at least 100mbs full symmetrical bandwidth. It is a global competitive imperative. Telcos, Cablecos, I do not want your lousy bowl of 1.5mbps gruel. Please sir, may I have some more?

(Thanks to Flickr user kainr for the photo and for releasing it under a Creative Commons license)

On “The Affirmation of Commitments”

There was big news in the ICANN world today with the announcement of the “Affirmation of Commitments”. This is the document which will now govern the relationship between ICANN and the US government (“USG”) as well as the rest of the world (“ROW”).

This is an important step in ICANN’s evolution in two respects. It signifies a significant move away from formal USG control of ICANN and it further solidifies ICANN’s role in governing the Internet and that governance being global in nature, NOT controlled by the national governments of the world.

Remember that ICANN was created in 1999 and has had three different types of documents governing its relationship with the USG. We have gone from a “Memorandum of Understanding” to a “Joint Project Agreement” to now an “Affirmation of Commitments” (AoC). To quote Bret Fausett, in this ever lightening chain of commitments, what is the next step? Facebook Friends?

Seriously, this removes a serious problem for ICANN. Since its inception ROW has been troubled by the exclusive oversight that the USG had over ICANN. The Internet is global, so should the oversight be. This has led from time to time for calls for the UN, the ITU or some other quango to take over from the USG. The AoC addresses this and gives the ROW a large say in appointing the group that provides oversight to ICANN. This is a HUGE step forward.

Notice I did not say that the ROW has a say in oversight, just in appointing the group that provides oversight. This is equally important. The terms of this oversight are laid out in the AoC and what happens if ICANN does not abide by these terms is also spelled out, the AoC fails and we are back to where we were to try again. This is a fantastic way to allow ICANN to flourish independently and to keep ICANN a global, not international organization. Think of this as a trust and those appointed as trustees. They will determine whether the terms of the trust have been abided by. If there have not been complied with then ICANN reverts to its previous state of USG control and we start again.

In its day to day operations this will not make a lot of difference. There were VERY few circumstances where the USG had a heavy hand. The dis-allowance of .xxx and the occasional burst of input when big IP interests would complain about domain names and copyright are the few exceptions. The USG deserves a thanks for its role to date.

It is also very important that we (and by “we” I mean “we the Internet”) have avoided the UN or the ITU. Either would have been disastrous for ICANN in my view.

All in all a good day and another positive development in the young regime of Rod Beckstrom as ICANN CEO. Now let’s see if he can thread a needle on new gTLDs!

A Look back at One Web Day 2009

Andy Walker, General Manager of Butterscotch.com, founder of Little Geeks (photo by Glenn McKnight)

Andy Walker, General Manager of Butterscotch.com, founder of Little Geeks (photo by Glenn McKnight)

The 3rd annual One Web Day celebration was a great success. We were proud to be a sponsor and celebrate both at our headquarters in Toronto, and later in the day with with the larger Toronto Internet community at an evening social event.

Our computer drive for Little Geeks was quite successful as well with donations received from Tucows employees and from the local community as well. We delivered the donated computers, scanners and laptops to the Little Geeks team to be refurbished and, eventually, to be delivered to kids who need them. You can still help out by making an online cash donation to Little Geeks.

Check out some of the photo highlights:

Vytautas Bruzga, Database Analyst

Vytautas Bruzga, Database Analyst

We also asked some One Web Day questions of our staff

What types of things do you think the Internet can change?

  • The way we do business
  • makes the world smaller
  • micro-finance
  • makes politics cleaner
  • makes companies honest
  • enables ideas to reach remote locations
  • Add yours in the comments…

What does the Internet mean to you?

  • work, entertainment, learning, life, love, shopping, easy reference, banking, free stuff, selling stuff, marketing stuff, convenience, dating, fragging, add yours in the comments…

Next year, OWD Toronto’s event is expected to build on the great vibe created.  We will invite you to join us in the celebrations. Save the date: September 22, 2010.

One Web Day Is Today!

OWD

One Web Day is here! Join us in celebrating this year’s theme: One Web. For All. Tucows believes: “The Internet is the greatest agent for positive change the world has ever seen.”

Tucows Supports Little Geeks and Internet Access

This is our second year celebrating One Web Day. Our focus is on Little Geeks and helping provide Internet access and computers to those who don’t have computers. Through Little Geeks we aim to provide computers to those who wouldn’t normally be able to afford them. Tucows is a strong supporter of Little Geeks which was founded by Andy Walker who runs Butterscotch.com, an online video network that is a part of Tucows Inc.

We are opening our doors this afternoon to take donations from the general public. More information on the kinds of systems that we’re interested in can be found on the Little Geeks website. In general, Little Geeks is seeking Pentium IIIs or G3 Macs or better. System parts also welcome. Tax receipts will be issued for computer donations. Cash donations for Little Geeks are also welcome.

What: Drop off your used computer systems to be refurbished and given to those in need right here in the Greater Toronto Area. Cash donations are also welcome.
When: September 22, 2009 from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.
Where: Tucows Head Office, 96 Mowat Ave., Toronto, M6K 3M1 (view on Google maps)

One Web Day Toronto Evening event

Tonight we’re joining the Toronto Internet community to celebrate One Web Day. There will be some cocktails and food sponsored by Tucows, Mozilla and WikiDOMO.

Leading up to One Web Day there were a number of creative projects including the
I Love the Web Poster-and-Picture-Fest“. The idea was to grab a poster and take some pictures with it to celebrate. See all the great pictures on Flickr. We have an event later today at the Tucows head office and will be taking photos with posters too. Join us by taking pictures with your organizations.

One Web Day Toronto Evening event

Here’s a great OWD video that includes posters and pictures:

We hope that you can donate or celebrate in your community. Happy One Web Day!

Copyright’s Creative Disincentive

Tucows is participating in the ongoing Canadian copyright consultation. We will be making a formal submission and I will be appearing at the final round table tomorrow (Tuesday, September 1, 2009) in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

We are big fans of government embracing the Internet in order to better get input from its citizens to help with the legislative process. While the methods have evolved, the submissions tend to be very formalistic. By lawyers for lawyers. To try and evolve that we have commissioned an original piece by the brilliant David Weinberger discussing the fundamental misconception in linking copyright to creativity. This piece will form the bulk of our submission and follows.

In addition we urge Canadians to contribute to the process. A fantastic resource on how to do so is here. We all owe a big thanks to Michael Geist for his hard work in this process.

My oral comments tomorrow in Peterborough will focus on the role of service providers and how they are being miscast in this dialogue.

Tucows’ views can be summarized as follows:

  1. We believe any legislation should be technologically neutral. A DMCA-like approach that considers a technology or a non-infringing use of a technology illegal per se is a huge brake on innovation.
  2. We believe that fair dealing should be expanded to provide greater innovation and creator opportunities. Culture builds on culture and in order to derive the full benefit of the magic of the Internet we need to recognize that the Internet has sped up the dissemination of culture which naturally creates greater opportunities for sharing and extending. This is inherently a feature not a bug.
  3. We believe that service providers should be neither policemen nor tax collectors for the existing rights holders. Service providers should be focused on helping ordinary Canadians use the Internet more easily and more effectively.

Please speak out and please enjoy the work that follows:

Copyright’s Creative Disincentive

The argument seems simple: (a) If every time you put apples out on your fruit stand, they’re immediately stolen, pretty quickly you’ll stop putting out apples. (b) What’s true of your physical property is also true of your “intellectual property.” (c) Therefore, without a system of strong copyright, creators will have no incentive to create.

The nice thing about that argument is that it makes a factual claim: Weaken copyright and you decrease innovation. That the facts so resoundingly, enthusiastically, thumpingly dispute that conclusion tells us that the syllogism is wrong. Indeed, the facts say the syllogism has it backwards. Current copyright laws are holding back the innovation they were intended to spur.

The argument gets one crucial point exactly right: Copyright grants creators temporary monopolistic control over the publishing of their works in order to serve a larger social goal: to maximize cultural innovation, production, and sharing. But the syllogism is wrong because it misunderstands the role of incentives, and it misunderstands them so blatantly that it seems unlikely to be accidental.

Creators often do have financial incentives. Just like everyone else. Some artists want to make enough to quit their day job. Some want to get rich. Some want to make enough to pay for the materials they need. Some want to prove to themselves that their work is appreciated. Some want to prove it to their parents. The amount of money they need in order to keep creating varies as widely as the role and meaning of that money.

Even within any one class of incentive, the effect of money on creativity is rarely a straight line. Mordechai Richler would not have written four times as many books if his advances had been four times larger. The Guess Who might be tempted to release more recycled compilations if you pay them enough money, but their songs would not have gotten 1% better for every 1% their revenues went up. Thus, while copyright may provide a financial incentive that enables many creators to create, stronger copyright that results in more money does not necessarily result in more creativity.

In fact, how long would it take you to list the bands that have gotten worse as they’ve gotten richer?

For the most important creative cultural works, money is an enabler but not the reason the person is putting pen to paper, chisel to stone, or camcorder to eye socket. There are so many other reasons people create — from G-d whispering to them, to a neurological itch that can’t otherwise be scratched, to wanting to get laid. Copyright could do its job — facilitate an innovative, sustainable culture — if it aimed merely at enabling creators to create, rather than thinking that the creativity-to-financial-reward curve is a straight line angled at 45 degrees.

Now, there would be no problem with setting up a system of laws that overemphasizes the financial incentives for creators if that system had no other effects. But it does, especially now that culture and economics have slipped the bonds of the old physics. Even if we devised a copyright law that provided the absolutely right amount of incentive for every creator to keep on creating, it takes more than motivated creators to build a creative, innovative culture.

It takes culture. It takes culture to build culture.

Whether it’s Walt Disney recycling the Brothers Grimm, Stephen King doing variations on a theme of Bram Stoker, or James Joyce mashing Homer up with, well, everything, there’s no innovation that isn’t a reworking of what’s already there. An innovative work without cultural roots would be literally unintelligible. So, incentives that require overly-strict restrictions on our use of cultural works directly diminish the innovativeness of that culture.

The facts are in front of us, in overwhelming abundance. The signature works of our new age are direct slaps in the face of our old assumptions about incentives. Wikipedia was created by unpaid volunteers, some of whom put in so much time that their marriages suffer. Flickr has more beautiful photos than you could look at it in a lifetime. Every sixty seconds, people upload twenty hours (72,000 seconds) of video to YouTube — the equivalent of 86,000 full-length Hollywood movies being released every week. For free. The entire Bible has been translated into LOLcat (“Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.”) by anonymous, unpaid contributors, and while that might not be your cup of tea — it is mine — it is without dispute a remarkably creative undertaking.

And it’s not just these large, collaborative projects. There are sites that every day aggregate the quirky, the awe-inspiring, the beautiful, the maddening…so many that there are sites that aggregate the sites that aggregate the sites that aggregate the works. All for free.

If you look at the works that are being produced — the facts on the ground, so to speak — you can get a glimpse of what is actually driving this creativity. It’s sure not the money. At site after site, amateurs — those who create for the love of it — produce and post works that are responses to other works. Sometimes they are responses to other amateurs. Sometimes they are responses — often mocking — to what the mainstream, paid culture has produced. For example, Auto-Tune the News turns mainstream news footage into politically astute, satiric music videos. In either case the incentive is clear: It is culture itself.

Culture is culture’s incentive. Works are the spur for creating more works. The greatest prompter of creativity is other creativity. Money is sometimes an enabler. But that has nothing to do with copyright laws that protect works for 70 years after the artist is dead. If enabling a culture of innovation is our aim, then cranking up the copyright protection dial to eleven is exactly the wrong way to go. Increasing the volume doesn’t make the music better. Access to more music makes the music better. The connections among people spurs the creativity that creates more connections that create more creativity.

In fact, excessive copyright protection, like a virus, seems to sicken innovation in every field it touches. Indeed, the industries currently trying to survive the digital upheaval by holding onto strict copyright enforcement laws are the ones that have been least innovative in coming up with new business models. Copyright is making them blind to the present and fatally uncreative about the future.

They should learn a lesson from what’s going on around them. After fifteen years of the Web making it easier to spread a work than contain it, and far easier to distribute it than to delete the existing copies, we now know some things for sure: People will create more than we can ever take in, without regard for financial recompense. Creators are carried forward by the creative swell around them. Culture enables more culture. And innovation overall is damaged by protectionism at the individual level.

The cultural opportunity before us is truly epochal. Yet, from the comedy of pretending that we’re looking out for the rights of little-known poets and singer-songwriters, we’re pushing ahead into the tragedy of willfully choosing to keep the cultural dimmer set on low. If our aim is to extract as much financial gain as we can from our culture, then let’s just say so. Far better an honest turning away from the vibrancy of culture than a high-minded pretense backed by patently false syllogisms.

Creative Commons License
Copyright’s Creative Disincentive by David Weinberger and Tucows Inc. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.

Elliot Noss on the Proposed U.S. National Broadband Plan

Tucows’ CEO Elliot Noss explains the initiative proposed by David Isenberg to focus the upcoming National Broadband Plan on “faster, more affordable, more ubiquitous, more reliable connections to the Internet.”

As a signatory to the initiative, Noss believes it’s essential not to confuse “broadband” with access to the Internet. It needs to be spelled out explicitly to make sure that the plan meets the needs of ordinary citizens.

More information here: http://www.itstheinternetstupid.com/

Inside Ride Raises $25K for Kids with Cancer

Each year, the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation puts on the Inside Ride, a fun event to raise funds for children living with cancer. Tucows was proud to participate again this year, and our parking lot was filled with people as ten teams competed against each other on stationary bikes. Prior to the event, each team raised pledges and then this past Friday, six riders from each team faced off against each other to see who could ride the farthest in a series of ten-minute sprints.

Tucows teams included people from Hover, Butterscotch, and various departments within the company. It was a great way to burn some calories on a beautiful sunny day while contributing to a worthy cause. When it was all over, we’d raised $25,000 for the charity. Thanks to all of our donors and we hope to surpass that total next year!

You can read more (and see some video and photos) at the OpenSRS blog, the Hover blog, and at Butterscotch.com.

Tucows Inc. Reports Financial Results For The First Quarter Of 2009

Eight-Year High in New Registrations Contributes to Strong Growth in Revenue and Profitability

TORONTO, May 13, 2009 – Tucows Inc., (AMEX:TCX, TSX:TC) a global provider of domain names, email and other Internet services, today reported its financial results for the first quarter of 2009 ended March 31, 2009. All figures are in U.S. dollars.

“During the first quarter of 2009, we saw continued strength in domain registrations through our OpenSRS wholesale services business, marked by the highest number of new registrations since the second quarter of 2000 and strong year-over-year growth in renewal transactions,” said Elliot Noss, President and CEO of Tucows. “In our YummyNames branded domain portfolio business, we completed a $1 million bulk domain name sale and executed an arrangement with the buyer committing them to ongoing domain purchases over the next 12 to 18 months. The contributions from these businesses in the first quarter resulted in strong revenue growth, profitability and solid cash flow from operations.”

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Tucows Appoints Rawleigh H. Ralls to its Board of Directors

TORONTO, May 13 – Tucows Inc. (AMEX:TCX, TSX:TC), a global provider of domain names, email and other Internet services, today announced that Rawleigh H. Ralls has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Company.

“We are pleased to welcome Rawleigh to the Tucows Board,” said Elliot Noss, President and CEO of Tucows. “Mr. Ralls brings a wealth of industry experience gained through his leadership of Netidentity.com, as well as the perspective gained through two decades of investing and portfolio management experience. I look forward to his contribution to the Board as we focus on growing the Company and realizing value for our shareholders.”

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The True Value of URL Shorteners

I have been watching the discussion on URL shortening that followed the funding of bit.ly with great interest and some surprise. Josh Schachter started it off. Dave Winer, Cory Doctorow and Howard Lindzon, among others, followed. The points raised are indeed interesting, but what is so surprising to me is that the answer to all of the concerns is not only so simple, but right in front of their noses.

First, some background. URL shortening has been around for years. It long preceded TinyURL and has always been good business. We got into the business in 1997 with Domain Direct, a service that dealt with what we called at that time the “~ problem.” This was the long and embarrassing URL that came along with the free webspace most ISPs provided at the time. It also dealt with the long and embarrassing URLs that came with free websites from the likes of Tripod and Angelfire.

TinyURL and the like came along years later with the purpose of making the sharing of temporary URLs (blog posts and news items mostly) much easier, but they are not as effective as a domain name for permanent URLs, like http://noss.org/work. The experience with Domain Direct and a love of URL shortening was what drove our thinking in coming up with Hover.

URL forwarding services have three goals. They should be easy to use, should make long, complicated URLs short, and the resulting URLs should be memorable. Easy is a function of the tools (and I do think our tools at Hover are the easiest available). Short and memorable are a function of the semantics.

When looking at “short” we should be clear that it is only in Twitter, and then again only in the rare Twitter post, that “hyper-short” matters.

It is with “memorable” that the difference really emerges. So let me be clear. The best “URL-shortening service” is simply a combination of great tools and your own domain name. The difference in using http://noss.org/bitly and http://is.gd/pind is huge in terms of “memorable.” Not only is the shortened URL easier to remember; it becomes a bit of personal branding (I hate using the word “branding” in this context but I do not have a better alternative. The whole concept of earned media is definitely relevant here), especially when the shortened URL is shared forward by a third party!

Of course, using your own domain to create forwards also addresses all of the concerns of control, archiving, spamminess and other evils that were raised in the original posts and elsewhere. I have now had this conversation with three hardcore geeks and when I say “Look, the answer is simple. Just use your own domain and CNAMEs!” they just stare at me and say “Oh yeah. I never thought of that.”!

Some Thoughts on ICANN’s Next CEO

Now that the search has officially commenced, I thought it might be useful to make some public statements as to what I would like to see from the next ICANN CEO. My comments are driven by what I see as the deficiencies over the last number of years and, most importantly, by a deep desire to see the ICANN experiment in global governance succeed. The Internet is the greatest agent for positive change the world has ever seen and a healthy ICANN strengthens its ability to foster positive change.

For me there are three essential qualities required and they are tough to order because I would like to see them all. They are as follows:

  • a deep love and understanding of the Internet;
  • the ability to “run a business” responsibly; and
  • the ability to lead with vision.

First, a deep love and understanding of the Internet.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ~ Confucius

For me, Mike Roberts was the best ICANN CEO to date and the reason is that he was the one who most loved and understood the Internet. ICANN is responsible for names and numbers, which are about finding and using resources on the Internet. Appreciating what that means and why it is important is central to being the ICANN CEO. Too much of the last few years have been about ICANN as an institution for the institution’s sake, not for having ICANN live in service to the Internet. A great CEO will create and lead an ICANN that lives in service to an open Internet and to the role of names and numbers inside of that.

Second, the ability to run a business responsibly. ICANN as an institution has ballooned over the last few years, seeing its budget grow by massive amounts. I am in favor of a healthy ICANN that is not begging its constituents for money and that is able to provide necessary staff support for policy creation and management. However, the money should be spent like it was their own! There is much too much wasted on very expensive consultants, staff duplication and on unnecessary efforts. There is a good core of credible and productive staff who I believe will respond to this so positively.

The next CEO should be comfortable learning about an issue and making a decision. Rather than pay BCG, McKinsey or some other exorbitantly priced consultant to call me, and a dozen others, to ask for our opinion on an issue, the CEO himself will research a topic and then come to a decision. Yes, ICANN is a consensus-driven, bottom up organization, but that need not apply to every issue. To be clear, I am talking here about day-to-day issues like a new RAA, transfers or whois.

The next CEO should be comfortable making decisions, leading the team and spending money responsibly. They should be a doer. The do/say ratio in ICANN needs to increase immeasurably.

Lastly, the next ICANN CEO needs to be able to lead with vision. So much of what ICANN deals with concerns the future, not the past or the present. The next ICANN CEO needs to possess enough imagination to create a broad vision for the organization and lead staff and the various constituents in that direction. This does not mean they should drive the policy-making process, nor that they should substitute their judgment for the community, but that they should have a big picture view of what the organization looks like when it is functioning well and how the organization exists in service to the Internet.

The organization should not lurch from issue to issue like it does now, constantly fending off imagined existential threats. It should move in a clear direction toward a bright future.

Yes, I know I am looking for a lot in one person, but I really believe that at this point in the Internet’s history, ICANN demands more than a CEO. It needs a passionate visionary.

Tucows Inc. Announces Preliminary Results of Tender Offer

TORONTO – March 16, 2009 – Tucows Inc. (AMEX:TCX, TSX:TC) a global provider of domain names, email and other Internet services, announced today the preliminary results of its modified Dutch auction tender offer, which expired at 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on March 13, 2009.  Tucows expects to purchase 4,250,000 shares of its Common Stock at a purchase price of $0.41 per share, or a total of $1,742,500.  The 4,250,000 shares expected to be purchased are comprised of the 4,000,000 shares Tucows offered to purchase and 250,000 shares to be purchased pursuant to Tucows’ right to purchase up to an additional 2 percent of the shares outstanding immediately prior to the commencement of the tender offer.  Due to over-subscription, Tucows expects the final proration factor for shares tendered at or below $0.41 per share to be approximately 99.8%.  For this purpose, shares tendered at or below $0.41 per share will include shares tendered by those persons who indicated, in their letter of transmittal, that they are willing to accept the price determined in the offer. All shares purchased in the tender offer will receive the same price.

The price per share and the proration factor are preliminary and subject to verification by StockTrans, Inc., the depositary for the tender offer. The actual price per share and the proration factor will be announced promptly following completion of the verification process.  After the determination of the actual price per share and the proration factor, the depositary will issue payment for the shares accepted under the tender offer and return all shares not accepted.

Tucows commenced the tender offer on February 12, 2009, when it offered to purchase up to 4,000,000 shares of its Common Stock at a price between $0.36 and $0.45 per share, net to the seller in cash, without interest. As a result of the completion of the tender offer, Tucows expects to have 68,823,782 shares issued and outstanding as of the time immediately following payment for the tendered shares.  Subject to the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tucows may, from time to time at management’s discretion, repurchase up to approximately 6,361,769 additional shares of its Common Stock on the open market under its previously authorized share buyback program.

About Tucows

Tucows is a global Internet services company.  OpenSRS manages over 8 million domain names and millions of email boxes through a reseller network of over 9,000 web hosts and ISPs.  Hover is the easiest way for individuals and small businesses to manage their domain names and email addresses.  YummyNames owns premium domain names that generate revenue through advertising or resale.  Butterscotch.com is an online video network building on the foundation of Tucows.com.  More information can be found at http://tucowsinc.com.

For further information: Lawrence Chamberlain, The Equicom Group for Tucows Inc., (416) 815-0700 ext. 257, lchamberlain (at) equicomgroup.com.

This news release contains, in addition to historical information, forward-looking statements related to such matters as our business, including the price per share at which Tucows will purchase shares, the proration factor and the repurchase of additional shares of Tucows‚Äô common stock. Such statements are based on management’s current expectations and are subject to a number of uncertainties and risks, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. Information about potential factors that could affect Tucows’ business, results of operations and financial condition is included in the Risk Factors sections of Tucows’ filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements included in this document are based on information available to Tucows as of the date of this document, and Tucows assumes no obligation to update such forward-looking statements.

Tucows is a registered trademark of Tucows Inc. or its subsidiaries. All other trademarks and service marks are the properties of their respective owners.

Tucows Commences Dutch Auction Tender Offer to Repurchase up to 4 Million Common Shares

TORONTO ‚Äì February 12, 2009 – Tucows Inc. (AMEX:TCX, TSX:TC) a global provider of domain names, email and other Internet services, announced today that it is commencing a modified “Dutch auction” tender offer to repurchase up to 4,000,000 shares of its common stock, representing approximately 5.5% of the Tucows’ outstanding shares. The closing price of Tucows’ common stock on the NYSE Alternext US on February 11, 2009 was $0.36 per share.

“We believe our shares to be an attractive investment and their repurchase by the Company to be a prudent use of cash that is consistent with our long-term objective to create shareholder value,” said Stanley Stern, Chairman of the Board of Tucows.

Under the tender offer, shareholders will have the opportunity to tender some or all of their shares at a price within the $0.36 to $0.45 per share price range. Based on the number of shares tendered and the prices specified by the tendering shareholders, Tucows will determine the lowest per share price within the range that will enable it to buy 4,000,000 shares. If shareholders of more than 4,000,000 shares properly tender their shares at or below the determined price per share, Tucows will purchase shares tendered by such shareholders, at the determined price per share, on a pro rata basis. Additionally, if more than 4,000,000 shares are properly tendered, the number of shares to be repurchased by Tucows pursuant to the tender offer may, at the discretion of Tucows, be increased by up to 2% of Tucows’ outstanding shares, or approximately 1,461,500 shares, without amending or extending the tender offer.

Shareholders whose shares are purchased in the offer will be paid the determined purchase price per share net in cash, without interest, after the expiration of the offer period. The offer is not contingent upon any minimum number of shares being tendered. The offer is subject to a number of other terms and conditions specified in the offer to purchase that is being distributed to shareholders. The offer will expire at 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on Friday, March 13, 2009, unless extended by Tucows.

The information agent for the offer is StockTrans, Inc. None of Tucows, its board of directors or the information agent is making any recommendation to stockholders as to whether to tender or refrain from tendering their shares into the tender offer. Shareholders must decide how many shares they will tender, if any, and the price within the stated range at which they will offer their shares for purchase by Tucows.

This press release is for informational purposes only and is not an offer to buy or the solicitation of an offer to sell any shares of Tucows’ common stock. The offer is being made solely by the offer to purchase and the related letter of transmittal. Investors are urged to read Tucows’ tender offer statement on Schedule TO filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with the tender offer, which includes as exhibits, the offer to purchase and the related letter of transmittal, as well as any amendments or supplements to the statement when they become available, because they contain important information. Each of these documents has been or will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and investors may obtain them for free from the Securities and Exchange Commission at its website (www.sec.gov) or from StockTrans, Inc., the information agent for the tender offer, by directing such request to: StockTrans, Inc., Attn: Re-Organization Dept., 44 West Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, PA 19003, telephone (800) 733-1121.

About Tucows

Tucows is a global Internet services company. OpenSRS manages over 8 million domain names and millions of email boxes through a reseller network of over 9,000 web hosts and ISPs. Hover is the easiest way for individuals and small businesses to manage their domain names and email addresses. YummyNames owns premium domain names that generate revenue through advertising or resale. Butterscotch.com is an online video network building on the foundation of Tucows.com. More information can be found at http://tucowsinc.com.

For further information: Lawrence Chamberlain, The Equicom Group for Tucows Inc., (416) 815-0700 ext. 257, lchamberlain@equicomgroup.com

This news release contains, in addition to historical information, forward-looking statements related to such matters as our business, including the timing and total number of shares to be purchased under the proposed tender offer and our long-term objectives. Such statements are based on management’s current expectations and are subject to a number of uncertainties and risks, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. Information about potential factors that could affect Tucows’ business, results of operations and financial condition is included in the Risk Factors sections of Tucows’ filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements included in this document are based on information available to Tucows as of the date of this document, and Tucows assumes no obligation to update such forward-looking statements.

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TUCOWS is a registered trademark of Tucows Inc. or its subsidiaries. All other trademarks and service marks are the properties of their respective owners.

Tucows Expired Domain Names Now At NameJet

Tucows will now exclusively use NameJet to auction Tucows’ large inventory of expired domain names.

NameJet is a domain name aftermarket auction company that consolidates an exclusive inventory of expired and deleted domains from top domain name registrars and makes them available for auction.

Starting today (February 9, 2009), thousands of daily expired domain names from Tucows will be available for auction to the general public on the NameJet Website.

We’re pleased to be working with NameJet to auction our expired domain names, and we look forward to these names being made available to a wide audience of bidders through NameJet.

Tucows Inc. Reports Financial Results for the Fourth Quarter of 2008

TORONTO, February 9, 2009 — Tucows Inc., (AMEX:TCX, TSX:TC) a global provider of domain names, email and other Internet services, today reported its financial results for the fourth quarter 2008 ended December 31, 2008. All figures are in U.S. dollars.

“During the fourth quarter, our strong competitive position continued to drive both new registration and renewal domain transaction volumes inside of our OpenSRS wholesale services business, contributing to year-over-year growth in revenue,” said Elliot Noss, President and CEO of Tucows. “While we benefited from the sale of our equity stake in Afilias during the quarter, cash flow from operations was negatively impacted by the timing of payables, as well as one-time restructuring costs.”

Mr. Noss continued, “The domain name component of our OpenSRS Wholesale business is exhibiting solid growth, especially relative to the rest of the domain name market. Our launches of Hover, Butterscotch.com and YummyNames in 2008 have set the stage for us to grow each of these units in 2009.

“With our email migration, employee downsizing and more favorable Canadian dollar environment, combined with our recurring revenue model based on high-volume, low-cost transactions, we will produce solid cash flow from operations, which will support our share repurchase programs and generate value for our shareholders.”

Summary Financial Results
(Numbers in Thousands of US Dollars, Except Per Share Data)
Three Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2008
Three Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2007
Twelve Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2008
Twelve Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2007
Net Revenue 19,159 18,240 78,468 74,638
Net Income (Loss) 1,019 (935) 2,075 2,676
Net Income (Loss)/Share 0.01 (0.01) 0.03 0.04
Cash Flow from Operations (229) 2,680 2,361 8,623
Summary of Revenue and Cost of Revenue
(Numbers in Thousands of US Dollars)
Revenue Cost of Revenue
Three Months Ended Dec. 31, 2008 (unaudited) Three Months Ended Dec. 31, 2007 (unaudited) Three Months Ended Dec. 31, 2008 (unaudited) Three Months Ended Dec. 31, 2007 (unaudited)
Traditional Domain Registration Services 14,137 12,574 11,397 9,672
Domain Portfolio 855 831 175 171
Email Services 1,122 1,675 95 218
Retail Services 1,436 1,528 571 513
Other Services 1,609 1,632 417 423
Total 19,159 18,240 12,655 10,997

Net revenue for the fourth quarter 2008 increased 5.0% to $19.2 million from $18.2 million for the fourth quarter 2007. The increase was primarily the result of growth in both new registrations and renewals from our traditional domain registration service. Net revenue for fiscal 2008 increased 5.1% to $78.5 million from $74.6 million for fiscal 2007.

Net income for the fourth quarter 2008 was $1.0 million, or $0.01 per share, compared with a net loss of $935,000, or $0.01 per share, for the fourth quarter 2007. Net income for the fourth quarter 2008 included other income of $3.1 million from the sale of the Company’s equity stake in Afilias. This benefit was partially offset by a loss on foreign exchange of $2.2 million, inclusive of a mark to market loss of $1.4 million, compared to a gain on foreign exchange of $106,000, inclusive of a mark to market loss of $667,000 in the fourth quarter 2007, largely as a result of the significant weakening of the Canadian dollar that occurred during the fourth quarter 2008.

Net income for fiscal 2008 was $2.1 million, or $0.03 per share, compared with $2.7 million, or $0.04 per share, for fiscal 2007. Net income for fiscal 2008 included other income of $5.3 million, which was composed primarily of the profit of $3.1 million from the sale of the Company’s equity stake in Afilias and the profit of $2.1 million on the sale of the Company’s retail hosting assets. These benefits were largely offset by a loss on foreign exchange of $2.8 million, inclusive of a mark to market loss of $2.0 million, compared to a gain on foreign exchange of $1.5 million, inclusive of a mark to market gain of $497,000 in fiscal 2007, largely the result of the significant weakening of the Canadian dollar that occurred during fiscal 2008.

Deferred revenue at the end the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008 was $54.2 million, an increase of 7.0% from $50.6 million at the end of the fourth quarter of 2007 and down marginally from $54.4 million at the end of the third quarter of fiscal 2008 due primarily to the impact of the sale of the Company’s retail hosting assets. Cash at the end of the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008 was $5.4 million compared with $8.1 million at the end of the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007 and $2.7 million at the end of the third quarter of fiscal 2008. This increase in cash compared to the third quarter of 2008 is primarily the result of cash proceeds of $3.2 million generated by the sale of the Company’s equity position in Afilias and the return of $500,000 from escrow on the conclusion of our acquisition of Innerwise, Inc. This was partially offset by the use of cash in operations of $229,000, the repayment of $479,000 of the Company’s bank loan, the investment of $191,000 in property and equipment and the repurchase of shares valued at $272,000.

About Tucows

Tucows is a global Internet services company. OpenSRS manages over 8 million domain names and millions of email boxes through a reseller network of over 9,000 web hosts and ISPs. Hover is the easiest way for individuals and small businesses to manage their domain names and email addresses. YummyNames owns premium domain names that generate revenue through advertising or resale. Butterscotch.com is an online video network building on the foundation of Tucows.com. More information can be found at http://tucowsinc.com.

For further information: Lawrence Chamberlain, The Equicom Group for Tucows Inc., (416) 815-0700 ext. 257, lchamberlain@equicomgroup.com

Restructuring at Tucows

Today we made the decision to restructure our business, which reduced our number of employees by roughly 15%. I have just finished an all-hands meeting where I talked about today’s events with our people.

Our thoughts today are with the people who left us. They were our friends and colleagues, each made meaningful contributions to our business and were liked. We offer them our sincere thanks for their hard work and efforts and good wishes for them as they go forward.

We decided to take this step because of the uncertainty of overall economic conditions and the fact that our performance has been impacted by a number of unanticipated challenges during the first nine months of the year, including advertising revenues being dampened by the weakness in the economy and by reduced payouts to the domain channel by Google and Yahoo, which is in turn impacting domain portfolio advertising revenues and especially bulk domain portfolio sales.

I have also never seen a macro economic environment like we are seeing now. I am old enough to have lived through a number of down cycles but there are elements of this one that make it unique and that will take time to work through.

I am immensely proud of the great work our team has done together this year. The product launches of Butterscotch, Hover and Storefront. The brand launches of OpenSRS and YummyNames, and the smooth email migration to our new platform.

We are luckier than most in that what we sell, domain names and email, is more like milk and bread than like cars and refrigerators. We are also luckier than most in that we generate cash and will continue to.

As we look forward to 2009, I believe we have a strong team who will continue to innovate, to work efficiently and maintain our positive momentum. I fundamentally believe that our strength comes from our people and I look forward to working hard together over the coming weeks and months to exceed even our own expectations.

And again, today, our thoughts are with the people who have left.

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