On April 24, an update was presented to the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry from Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN), a non-profit organization that aims to increase connectivity (including cellular and internet coverage) and quality of life in rural areas of Eastern Ontario.
EORN is a small organization with just 13 employees that was founded in 2010. Over the past 13 years, EORN has worked with large internet service and cellular service providers to increase the availability and coverage of these services in our area. This has included a 10-year Bell fibre contract, and more recently, a contract awarded to Rogers in 2021 as part of the Cell Gap Project.
Phase One was completed in 2015, with highlights in the report including:
- More than 5,500 kms of new fibre placed
- 63 business parks connected to fibre
- $175 million build with $260 million value
- Connected four First Nations reserves
As part of ongoing projects, new cell towers started being constructed last year, with construction ongoing. The overall goal is to achieve 99% cell coverage in all areas of Eastern Ontario where people live, work and travel on major roadways. Within this coverage, the goal is for 95% of coverage to be sufficient to offer “standard definition service level”, and 85% of coverage to be sufficient for “high definition service level”.
Most of the funding for the upgrade projects has been provided by a mix of the utility companies themselves, and the federal and provincial governments. The Counties’ contribution has been about $575,000.
Currently, a project is underway to upgrade 312 existing cell towers to support LTE and 5G service, with about 297 already complete. In addition, 260 new sites are being built. The work is expected to be completed by 2025 and will meet or exceed project goals.