EORN seeks competitive bids to improve cellular service in Eastern Ontario

The Eastern Ontario Regional Network has issued a request for proposal for its project to improve cell service throughout the region. GETTY IMAGES

The first request for proposals to build cellular infrastructure for eastern Ontario was issued on Monday.

The Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) issued its first request for proposals on Monday to identify telecommuniction partners to improve cellular services in rural communities.

EORN, a non-profit created by the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC), which represents 11 county municipalities and two single-tier municipalities, along with nine other municipalities, says many gaps are the result of market failure.

READ MORE: Province investing $71M to tackle cellular dead zones across eastern Ontario

“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 EORN stated.

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Last summer, both the provincial and federal governments committed $71 million each to the $213 million public-private partnership to improve both the reach and quality of mobile broadband services in the region.

The province says an estimated 10 per cent of eastern Ontario is considered a “cell dead zone” — either due to terrain or economic challenges.

The EORN says 40 per cent of its geographical area does not have access to high-definition services for HD video, 10 per cent has no voice-calling service, and 20 per cent does not have access to standard definition video.

All members of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus and most municipalities within the Eastern Ontario Mayors’ Caucus are contributing to the $10 million municipal share. Mobile carriers are expected to provide the balance of the funding.

“Rural areas don’t generate enough revenue for mobile carriers to build adequate services,” the EORN stated. “The CRTC recently designated both mobile and fixed broadband as basic services for all Canadians. The public-private partnership will reduce carriers’ infrastructure costs, creating a stronger business case to improve services and meet the CRTC’s basic services goals.”

READ MORE: Feds investing $71M to improve cellular broadband, connectivity in eastern Ontario

The EOWC consists of the City of Kawartha Lakes and the counties of Peterborough, Northumberland, Haliburton, Hastings, Frontenac, Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, Lennox and Addington, Prescott and Russell, Prince Edward, Renfrew and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.

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The nine separated municipalities include the City of Peterborough, Kingston, Belleville, Quinte West, Smiths Falls, Gananoque, Prescott, Pembroke and Cornwall.

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