Improving Connectivity in Eastern OntarioPublished on May 17, 2019
Ontario is taking a giant step towards improving mobile broadband and curing cellular dead zones in eastern Ontario today, as the province announced $71 million in funding. The investment will make people safer and lead to greater economic growth.
“Our government has committed to help people get the broadband and cellular connections they need,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Infrastructure. “This is a matter of public safety and economic opportunity.”
About 10 percent of rural eastern Ontario has no mobile broadband connection, leading to dropped calls, missed emergency services and a lack of opportunity.
“It is essential that proper infrastructure is in place to support public safety across the province, especially in my riding, where cellular coverage is often lacking,” said John Yakabuski, MPP for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke. “Our government is taking action to improve connectivity so that people can feel confident and safe, at home and on the road.”
With today’s announcement, Ontario is committing $71 million to the Eastern Ontario Regional Network’s (EORN) project to virtually eliminate coverage gaps in the region. The public-private initiative requires contributions from the federal government as well private sector and municipal partners. Total value of the project is estimated at $213 million.
To date, the federal government has not committed to funding.
Ontario is hopeful the federal government will commit to funding their share of the project.
“Last week the federal Liberals said the people of Ontario’s priorities were their priorities,” said McNaughton. “Well, this is a huge priority in eastern Ontario. It’s about public safety, economic growth and development and convenience. We are investing in people and building our province’s future.”
With today’s announced support for EORN, the provincial government is fulfilling a commitment to invest in cellular and broadband infrastructure.
“Our government made a commitment to invest in broadband and cellular expansion,” said Yakabuski. “Today I am happy to say: promise made, promise kept.”
- Cellular connectivity refers to wireless access to voice, text and data services through a mobile device (e.g. a smart phone).
- The project involves all Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC) members and 10 separate municipalities.
- The goal of the project is to bring cell coverage to 99 per cent of the region where people live, work and travel. Unpopulated areas, including forests, swamps and protected lands are not included in that goal.
- EORN was created by the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus and has already completed a major project to build a high-capacity fibre-optic backbone network in Eastern Ontario.
- In the 2019 Ontario Budget, the provincial government committed $315 million over the next five years to regional and shovel-ready projects.