Counties council rallies behind cellphone project
All of Eastern Ontario is getting behind to support a project to close up holes in the regional cellphone communications network.
The Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus (EOWC) has given top priority to support for the Eastern Ontario Regional Network’s (EORN) project, which aims to improve cellular phone service in the region. The United Counties of Prescott-Russell council (UCPR) voted unanimous support, during its January 24 session, for both the project and for the EOWC as the spearhead for the regional lobby pointing at the provincial and federal governments.
“The number one priority for this year is the cellular gap project,” said Stéphane Parisien, UCPR administrator, in a verbal report to the counties council on the 2018 inaugural meeting of the EOWC.
The EORN Cellular and Public Safety Broadband Network project (CPSBN) seeks to eliminate “dead zones” for cellular phone service in Eastern Ontario. These “dead zones” can hamper economic development for some municipalities in Eastern Ontario, discouraging investors from considering an area for projects.
The cell gap is also identified as one of the reasons for local youth to leave an area after graduation in quest of high-paying jobs as well as a place to live that supports an online lifestyle. “That (cell gap) is a detriment, and quite a hurdle, in maintaining our youth here,” said Parisien.
The project also seeks to expand the public safety aspect of cellphone service by opening the existing emergency cellular service band available for police departments. Such expansion would make it available for regional fire departments and ambulance services.
EORN and the EOWC seek a private-public partnership for the $213 million cellular gap project, with investment in cash or in kind coming from senior and local levels of government and the private sector. The project will also build on the success of EORN’s original broadband expansion project for Eastern Ontario, which resulted in almost complete high-speed Internet availability throughout the region.
The EOWC presented the cell gap project to Premier Wynne, cabinet ministers and senior provincial government officials during the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference in Toronto, over the January 21 weekend. “Everyone said it was a very good presentation,” said Warden François St-Amour. “The future is all wireless.”
Parisien noted that provincial officials made no promises, but he expressed hope that the cell gap project might be considered for capital funding in this year’s provincial budget.
Une meilleure couverture des services de téléphonie cellulaire dans la région demeure une priorité économique des présidents de comtés de l’Est ontarien membres de l’Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus. L’organisme régional veut éliminer les « zones mortes » du service cellulaire, qui entravent le développement économique..