The Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus and Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) welcomed the Ontario Government’s commitment of $71 million to improve cell service across the region.
Ontario Rural Affairs Minister (and Peterborough MPP) Jeff Leal announced the funding formally at an event in Belleville Monday, April 23.
EORN has proposed a $213-million public-private partnership to improve both the reach and quality of cell service in the region. The federal government and the private sector are also being asked to support the project.
EORN submitted a detailed business case for cell expansion to the federal and provincial governments in May 2017. The project is expected to create 3,000 full-time equivalent jobs over 10 years and spur $420 million in new business revenue.
According to an engineering study commissioned by EORN:
* About one quarter of the area where there are homes, businesses or major roads in the region cannot access any cellular services.
* Depending on the cell carrier, nearly two-thirds of the area doesn’t have enough capacity to provide high quality mobile broadband service given growing demand.
The gaps are because rural areas don’t generate enough revenue for cell carriers to build adequate services. The CRTC recently designated both mobile and fixed broadband as basic services for all Canadians. EORN believes a public-private partnership would reduce carriers’ infrastructure costs, creating a stronger business case to improve services and meet the CRTC’s basic services goals.