EASTERN ONTARIO — Rogers Communications will erect 300 new towers and upgrade a similar number of structures after winning a contract last month that relies on $152-million in public money to close gaps or “dead zones” in Eastern Ontario’s cell phone coverage.
Including the company’s own investment, more than $300-million will be spent on the project, under the public-private partnership plan spearheaded by the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN), an entity involving numerous rural municipal governments in the area. The project includes federal and provincial contributions of $71 million each plus an additional $10 million from the constituent municipalities to make the project happen.
Work is to be completed by 2025. But the improvements can’t come soon enough for many rural residents and farmers weary of spotty mobile service in parts of Eastern Ontario. “There are areas when you’re moving from point A to point B where the cellular service will drop your calls,” said North Stormont area dairy farmer Barbara-Ann Glaude, who was happy with the news. “I can sit in my house and have my calls dropped.”
While Glaude expressed greater interest in seeing improved internet capability at her farm computer, this new project is about increasing cell phone reception and increased data performance on cell phones, not home office internet improvement. Rogers will use 5G technology, the world’s cutting-edge and fastest mobile internet technology, in the Eastern Ontario initiative. EORN found that 40 per cent of the area lacks high-definition streaming capability; 20 percent can’t stream even SD video. Another 10 per cent have no voice calling service over mobile.