Eastern Ontario Regional Network Secures Funding for Next Phase

July 5, 2019
By Bob Peters

Cornwall Ontario — The final piece of the funding puzzle for the next phase of improving connectivity in Eastern Ontario is in place, with the announcement that the Government of Canada will contribute up to $71 million in funding for a project that aims to improve mobile broadband and curing cellular dead zones.

Connectivity in Cornwall

“Broadband Internet and increased access to mobile services supports economic growth and is key for the long-term prosperity of rural Canadian communities,” said The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Rural Economic Development. “This project will allow Eastern Ontario rural municipalities to be better connected and ensure that residents have improved access to online services and tools whether at home or on the road.”

The Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) Mobile Broadband Project is a $213 million public private initiative that would build on EORN’s high capacity, fibre-optic backbone network to help close the gap in cellular services in the region.

Phase 1 of the project involves building 317 new telecommunications towers and an additional 32 local Internet access points to improve overall mobile coverage for residents of Eastern Ontario. Phase 2 will identify the capacity gaps that result from heavy user-traffic, upgrade equipment to reduce network overloads, and improve service quality in rural communities.

Once completed, the project will improve mobile coverage for over 1.1 million residents in 102 communities in Eastern Ontario. The new network will allow businesses to grow and reach new markets, with a potential to create more than 3,000 full time jobs over ten years. For residents and families, extended mobile coverage means better access to mobile applications on a smartphone or tablet. The improved connectivity will also make it easier for people in remote areas to call for help in emergency situations.

In July of last year, the City of Cornwall committed $300,000 to support the effort. Earlier this year, the Government of Ontario pledged $71 million and the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus will provide $10 million towards the project, with private partners providing the rest of the funding.

“Increasing capacity and coverage the cellular network in Eastern Ontario will help our residents and businesses thrive and prosper,” says City of Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement. “Connectivity is an important factor in maintaining the competitive position of our region on the global stage.”

EORN’s previous project involved the construction of a 5,500-km fibre-optic throughout Eastern Ontario which resulted in improved wired and wireless connectivity for residents and businesses. The City of Cornwall supported that project, and as a result saw significant investments in the local communications infrastructure.

In 2017, Xplornet Communications established a $40 million regional office in Cornwall, a direct result of the EORN project. Xplornet now employs over 130 people in Cornwall.

“We want to attract a few thousand more residents to our area in the coming years – to contribute to our community,” noted Mayor Clement. “Ongoing investment in connectivity will help us get there.”

About the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN)

EORN is a non-profit organization created by the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus to help improve broadband access to nearly 90% of Eastern Ontario. It works with governments and community organizations to improve and leverage broadband access to fuel economic development and growth across the region.  The latest EORN project involves all Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus members and 10 separated municipalities. For more info, check out the following online resources:

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