The Eastern Ontario Regional Network has issued the first request for proposals to build new cellular infrastructure.
“The competitive bidding process will identify telecommunication partners who offer both the expertise and best value for expanded cell coverage in areas where people live, work, and travel,” the network says in a statement.
EORN is a non-profit created by the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus that has helped to improve broadband access to nearly 90-percent of Eastern Ontario through a $175 million public-private partnership. They work will the federal and provincial governments and community organizations to “improve and leverage” broadband access to help economic development and growth in the region.
“EORN has been planning this work for several years and we are pleased to finally launch the bidding process,” EORN Chair J. Murray Jones says. “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 services.”
The federal and provincial governments committed $71 million each to the $213 million public-private partnership to improve the reach and quality of mobile broadband services in the region. Another $10 million was contributed by all members of the EOWC and most municipalities within the Eastern Ontario Mayors’ Caucus. Mobile carriers are expected to provide the rest of the needed funding.
The Wardens’ Caucus includes the Counties of Frontenac, Haliburton, Hastings, Lanark, Lennox and Addington, Northumberland, Peterborough, Prince Edward, and Renfrew along with the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, and the City of Kawartha Lakes.
EORN adds in their statement that 40-percent of rural Eastern Ontario where people don’t have access to high-definition services that allows for HD video streaming, and 20-percent don’t have access to standard definition video. They say that 10-percent has no voice calling service.
“The gaps are result of market failure,” they say. “Rural areas don’t generate enough revenue for mobile carriers to build adequate services. The CRTC recently designated both mobile and fixed broadband as basic services for Canada. The public-private partnership will reduce carriers’ infrastructure costs, creating a stronger business case to improve services and meet the CRTC’s basic service goals.”
On top of the areas within the EOWC, there are nine separated municipalities that EORN applies to: Kingston, Belleville, Quinte West, Smiths Falls, Gananoque, Prescott, the City of Peterborough, Pembroke, and Cornwall.
“At this critical time, it’s important that all Canadians can stay connected trough reliable cell service and high-speed internet,” Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development Maryam Monsef says. “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 have better access to online services and tools.”