According to a study commissioned by The Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) about one quarter of the local area where there are homes, businesses or major roads cannot access any cellular services and depending on the cell carrier, another 28% to 40% of the area has inadequate capacity to provide high quality mobile broadband service. “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.” says EORN Chair, J Murray Jones.
The County of Peterborough has partnered with EORN to seek federal and provincial support to improve cellular coverage in the region. They say gaps in cellular services are standing in the way of the region’s economic growth and public safety. Peterborough County Warden Joe taylor says “As Peterborough County continues to grow, we encourage federal and provincial government leaders to support our efforts in providing a wider cellular network with improved quality and accessibility. This expansion to existing services will benefit residents, businesses and visitors throughout Eastern Ontario.”
EORN is proposing a $213 million public-private partnership to improve both the reach and quality of cellular data services in the region. The gaps are the result of market failure according to both groups. They say rural areas don’t generate enough revenue for cell carriers to build adequate services on their own.
A detailed business case for cell expansion was submitted to the federal and provincial governments by EORN. The proposal also includes a dedicated, public safety broadband network to seamlessly connect first responders region-wide. According to numbers provided by EORN building both networks together would cost about $299 million, saving about $47 million compared to building them separately. “The demand for mobile data is growing exponentially, but our region is deeply lacking the needed infrastructure to keep up. This project is our top priority because Eastern Ontario’s future is at stake.” according to EOWC Chair Robert Quaiff.
EORN, a non-profit created by the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC) worked to improve fixed broadband access to nearly 90% of Eastern Ontario through a $175 million network funded by the federal, provincial and municipal governments and the private sector service providers. It works with governments and community organizations to improve and leverage broadband access to fuel economic development and growth across the region.