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$300M communications project to eliminate cellular dead zones in eastern Ontario

The partnership with Rogers is set to create 3000 new jobs, with the construction of 300 new cellular towers and the upgrading of existing 300 towers.
Rogers Tower
Newly built and retrofitted cellular towers will bring greater connectivity to the province. Photo/ Rogers Communications Inc.

Residents in eastern Ontario will soon notice better cell phone reception in rural areas, thanks to the largest public-private infrastructure project in Ontario, to date.

The provincial and federal governments are teaming up with Rogers Communications Inc., as well as the mayors’ and wardens’ caucuses of eastern Ontario, to eliminate cellular “dead zones;” bringing reliable cell service, standard definition video and video calling to 99 per cent of the province by 2025.

The provincial and federal government will each be committing $71-million to the project, with the Eastern Ontario mayors’ and wardens’ caucuses investing $10-million. Rogers will be supplying half the cost, at $150-million, bringing the total budget for the project to more than $300-million.

The money is expected go toward building 300 new cellular towers and upgrading an existing 300 towers.

Maryam Monsef, Canadian minister of rural economic development, says this project, in combination with the federal government’s commitment of $223-million to bring high-speed Internet to 33,000 households, will bring greater connectivity to the province.

Debbie Robinson, warden of Renfrew and chair of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus, says people in eastern Ontario will begin to see connectivity improvements within six months.

She adds, this project will not only eliminate cellular dead zones, but it will play a large part of their economic recovery.

 “What has happened as a result of COVID-19, and because we have such a lack of good broadband services here, people have been using their cellphone for data,” says Robinson. “So, it has exacerbated the problem of the lack of cell coverage. Even areas that have good coverage has less because everyone is using it for their data.”

 “The towers that exist are going to be initially used, and eventually the additional 300 new towers. It will be a gradual process, but it’ll be gradually moving into the positive and by 2025 there will be very little gaps in cell service,” she explains.

“I’m hoping that this will translate to the EORN Gate Project that was also submitted just recently to the federal and provincial governments for broadband.”

The EORN Gate Project is expected to cost between $1.2- and $1.4-billion to offer residents across eastern Ontario access to high-speed Internet.

Rogers is the parent company of CityNews Ottawa & the Valley.

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