By Jenn Watt
Published June 6, 2017
Haliburton County has added its endorsement to an application for funding that would greatly enhance cellular service in the region.
Giving their seal of approval to the proposal put forward by the Eastern Ontario Regional Network, which has helped increase Internet access throughout the county in the past, the county clearly knows where its priorities should be.
Pockets of this county have been left far behind the rest of western civilization when it comes to technology. In some of the more sparsely populated portions of the county, cellphones lose their capacity to make or take calls, let alone access Google Maps or TripAdvisor.
Dead zones are not only frustrating for those wanting to connect on the phone or looking for directions to a bed and breakfast, they also pose a safety issue. We’re accustomed to being able to use our cellphones to call for help if we have car troubles or a medical emergency.
Those who live in cellular dead zones likely have planned for this, but travellers often expect to be able to call for help. (There are still many people who purchase cellphones just for that reason.)
It’s well past due for cell service to come to the remaining pockets of Haliburton County. Within a few hours’ drive from Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston, Barrie, most would assume full coverage would be here by now.
Unfortunately, according to EORN, “about one quarter of the area where there are homes, businesses or major roads in the [Eastern Ontario] region cannot access any cellular services” and “another 28 to 40 per cent of the area has inadequate capacity to provide high quality mobile broadband service.”
The geographically scattered population has meant that up to this point, it didn’t make enough financial sense for communications companies to serve these dead zones.
This gap in service means some parts of the county have been getting left behind.
Attracting business or new residents to a rural area often hinges upon demonstrating access to services. Schools, roads, fire service, public parks, competitive tax rates, a strong commercial centre and, yes, Internet and cellphone service are part of what people look at when they make big business and life decisions.
It’s now at a point where all communities in eastern Ontario should be able to offer a digital connection to the wider world.
This is a sorely needed improvement that has been too long coming.