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EORN issues Request for Proposal to tackle cellular dead zones across eastern Ontario

EORN issues Request for Proposal to tackle cellular dead zones across eastern Ontario

Posted in: News Item

Date Posted: 2020-04-22

Organization Name: Eastern Ontario Regional Network

Eastern Ontario is one step closer to improved cellular services that will help rural communities take part in the digital economy, create jobs, and improve public safety.

The Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) issued the first Request for Proposal to build new cellular infrastructure. The competitive bidding process will identify telecommunication partners who offer both the expertise and best value for expanded cell coverage in areas where people live, work, and travel.

“EORN has been planning this work for several years and we are pleased to finally launch the bidding process – an important first step in building the project,” said EORN Chair J. Murray Jones. “We are looking to build on the investment we’ve already made in broadband infrastructure with partners who will deliver value and quality in closing the gap in mobile services.”

The federal and provincial governments have committed $71 million each to the $213 million public-private partnership to improve both the reach and quality of mobile broadband services in the region.

All members of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus and most municipalities within the Eastern Ontario Mayors’ Caucus are contributing to the $10 million municipal share. Mobile carriers are expected to provide the balance of the funding.

There are currently significant gaps in both the reach and capacity of mobile broadband networks across areas of rural Eastern Ontario where people live, work or travel:

  • 40 percent of the area does not have access to high-definition services that allow streaming HD video.
  • 20 percent of the area does not have access to standard definition video, typical mobile app use and video app calling.
  • 10 percent has no voice calling service.

The gaps are the result of market failure. Rural areas don’t generate enough revenue for mobile carriers to build adequate services. The CRTC recently designated both mobile and fixed broadband as basic services for all Canadians. The public-private partnership will reduce carriers’ infrastructure costs, creating a stronger business case to improve services and meet the CRTC’s basic services goals.

“Now more than ever, our government understands that families and businesses in Ontario need to be connected to prosper in this 21st century digital economy,” said Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure. “This project will take a number of years to complete, but that’s why we’re working with our federal and municipal partners today, to solicit proposals from service providers to improve cellular connectivity for those families and businesses in the future.”

The EORN initiative applies to a geographic area that includes 13 members of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (11 regional county municipalities and two single-tier municipalities), and nine separated municipalities.

The Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus includes: County of Frontenac; County of Haliburton; County of Hastings; City of Kawartha Lakes (single tier); County of Lanark; United Counties of Leeds and Grenville; County of Lennox and Addington; County of Northumberland; County of Peterborough; United Counties of Prescott and Russell; County of Prince Edward (single tier); County of Renfrew; and United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.

The nine separated municipalities include: Kingston; Belleville; Quinte West; Smiths Falls; Gananoque; Prescott; City of Peterborough; Pembroke; and Cornwall.