[LINDSAY] — 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.
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 estimated value of the project is $213 million.
“Mobile broadband connectivity is essential to the public safety and economic prosperity of HKLB and our entire region. I am thrilled that our government has committed to this critical $71 million investment in our region,” said MPP Scott.
“I’m very excited that this project has been endorsed by the province. People in Eastern Ontario are counting on it,” said City of Kawartha Lakes Mayor and EOWC Chair Andy Letham. “This project will not only make us safer through enhanced emergency response communications, but it’s also a critical link for our business community in order to be competitive.”
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 Minister 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.
- 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.
- City of Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham is Chair of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus
- 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.