EORN issues cell service project call

Gregg Chamberlain
EAP
A better “dead zone-free” cellular service project for all of Eastern Ontario is another stop closer to launch.

The Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) issued its first request for proposals (RFP) for companies to present competitive bids aimed at building a new cellular service system for the Eastern Ontario region. The goal is to eliminate “dead zones” for cellphone calls in the region, which create potential public safety risks where fire and accident situations are concerned and which also hamper some businesses in competition with other outfits that can offer cellphone contact for orders and deliveries to their customers.

“EORN has been planning this work for several years and we are pleased to finally launch the bidding process,” stated EORN chair J. Murray Jones. “This is an important first step in building the project. 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 service.”

The $213 million public-private partnership includes $71 million each from the federal and provincial governments in support funding and a $10 million contribution from the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus (EOWC), which represents Eastern Ontario’s rural municipalities and smaller urban centres like the City of Cornwall. The private sector is expected to provide its share of the project cost through in-kind contributions of technology and infrastructure development.

Critical need

EORN, through its research, has determined that 40 per cent of the Eastern Ontario region has no access to high-definition cellular service that allows streaming HD video, 20 per cent of the region has no access to standard definition video, typical mobile app use, and video app calling, and 10 per cent of the region has no cellular phone voice calling service.

“The gaps are the result of market failure,” states the EORN news release. “Rural areas don’t generate enough revenue for mobile carriers to build adequate services.”

The CRTC has declared mobile and fixed broadband as “basic services for all Canadians” and the EORN Cellular Gap project aims at closing the gap in mobile service for the region through a public-private partnership that will reduce the infrastructure cost for carriers and meet the CRTC’s basic service goals.

“At this critical time, it’s important that all Canadians stay connected through reliable cell service and high-speed Internet,” stated Maryam Monsef. Federal rural economic development minister. “This important project will bring mobile service to more than 100 communities and over 1 million people across Eastern Ontario and ensure that residents and businesses alike have better access to online services and tools.”