Premier Doug Ford reconfirmed provincial support for regional broadband and cellular service improvement projects, including those which target Ontario’s rural and remote areas. The June 3 announcement is good news for the Eastern Ontario Regional Network, which has a $70 million commitment from the province for its Cellular Gap Improvement project.
Premier Doug Ford reconfirmed provincial support for regional broadband and cellular service improvement projects, including those which target Ontario’s rural and remote areas. The June 3 announcement is good news for the Eastern Ontario Regional Network, which has a $70 million commitment from the province for its Cellular Gap Improvement project.

Province renews promise of money for regional broadband improvement

Premier Doug Ford reconfirmed support for broadband and cellular service improvement projects for Eastern Ontario and other regions.

“As we carefully restart the economic engine of Canada, every region and every community will place a role in bringing jobs and prosperity back to our province,” stated Premier Ford during a June 3 announcement on the Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) program. “By investing in reliable broadband and cellular service, we are helping to create greater opportunity for our families, farmers, and small business owners in rural and remote areas of this great province.”

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Haut débit: Ford renouvèle sa promesse

The ICON program involves partnerships between the provincial and federal governments and others to support broadband service improvement for rural and remote regions. It includes $70 million in provincial funds already committed to the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) for a cellular service improvement project for Eastern Ontario.

Russell Township Mayor Pierre Leroux, who is the current warden for the United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR), sits on the EORN board as the UCPR representative. He welcomed the premier’s reaffirmation of provincial support for rural broadband improvement projects.

“This was announcing funds that were already allocated,” Warden Leroux said during a June 4 phone interview. “Now, during these crazy times, we see the need for improved (cellular) infrastructure.”

The EORN board has approved a tender call now for communications companies to bid on the Cellular Gap Improvement (CGI) project for Eastern Ontario. The goal is to eliminate all of the “dead spots” in mobile phone service in rural areas of the region and also to improve overall cellphone service and broadband access.

Leroux noted that the original goal for the EORN broadband improvement project was 50mps/10mps for users. That means boosting the download rate for broadband/cellular access to 50 megabytes per second, and the upload rate to 10 megabytes per second.

“But we’ve decided that we’re going to go for a bigger project,” Leroux said, “at a gigabyte per second download. We’re better off going for the ‘big picture’. This is going to be a generational project with significant use for years to come.”

The EORN board expects to have all bids in for review by the end of August. The goal is to have work on the CGI project start early in 2021.

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