New proposal aims to reduce cellular dead zones in Eastern Ontario

cellphone tower in the sky

An Ontario non-profit has made a proposal to Ontario Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli and Rural Affairs Minister Jeff Leal that the province and the federal government should aid in reducing cellular dead zones in Eastern Ontario.

The Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) has purposed a $213 million CAD public-private partnership that would see the provincial and federal governments work together with carriers to better cellular reception in rural areas throughout the region. Those regions don’t generate enough revenue for carriers to invest in infrastructure, resulting in coverage gaps for rural inhabitants.

According to the organization, an engineering study that it commissioned shows that about one-quarter of the area where there are homes, businesses or major roads in the region cannot access any cellular services and that depending on the cell carrier, another 28 percent to 40 percent of the area has “inadequate capacity to provide high quality mobile broadband service given the demand.”

“Too often, Eastern Ontarians find themselves with no signal or dropped cell services.”

EORN says that in consideration of the CRTC’s recent decision that designates mobile and fixed broadband as a basic service for all Canadians, this partnership could help to fulfill its goals.

The organization has submitted a detailed case study to the federal and provincial government on cell expansion, which also includes a dedicated public safety broadband network to connect first responders in the region. Built together, the networks would cost about $299 million saving about $47 million compared to building them separately, estimates EORN.

“Too often, Eastern Ontarians find themselves with no signal or dropped cell services. EORN is building on the investment we’ve already made in fibre optics across the region to close the gap in cell services and improve economic growth, quality of life and public safety,” stated EORN Chair J. Murray Jones in a press statement.

Previously, EORN helped to bring about a $175 million fixed broadband network funded by the federal, provincial and municipal governments and private sector service providers, which it says brought broadband access to 90 percent of Eastern Ontario.

EORN was created by the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus, which itself is a sub-association within the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. Its stated mission is to “provide higher speeds and bandwidth to at least 95 per cent of homes and businesses in Eastern Ontario.”

Source: CNW