The future is mobile, EORN rep says
by Jenn Watt
Published Oct. 17, 2017
Improving cellular service and filling in gaps around eastern Ontario will be priorities for the Eastern Ontario Regional Network, one of its board members told an audience at Pinestone Resort last week.
Warren Arseneau, a board member with EORN, gave the update to those attending the Haliburton County Development Corporation’s annual general meeting on Oct. 11.
The talk covered the direction for the organization, which was created to represent the 13 municipalities in eastern Ontario, and co-ordinated 5,500 kilometres of fibre cable extended into the region. The group’s commitment at the time was to ensure 92 per cent of those in the region reached broadband speeds of 10 mb downloading and 1.5 mb uploading.
“We did a really good job of planning, of managing the contracts, putting out the RFPs and getting things done. We were less successful in getting the message to the areas that can’t be reached as to why they couldn’t be reached and what the alternatives were,” Arseneau said.
While many saw service improve over the last decade, pockets of residents were never able to connect to broadband internet, causing consternation.
Decisions not to extend high-speed internet to some areas was a “straight business decision” based on how much it would cost to connect potential customers.
“The average cost of delivering the service to these people was around $150 per home. … Here in Haliburton County, the average was about $600 or $700,” he said, adding that in some cases that amount could come closer to $1,500.
EORN has now focused on improving mobile service, or the Cell Gap Project, applying for $300 million from the government.
“There’s two kinds of gaps. One is painfully obvious: you have no bars,” Arseneau said. The other is when you get a signal, but it’s weak.
“The larger problem to fix is the places where there is a signal, but the signal isn’t strong enough to do anything more than a SMS text or … phone call,” he said.
The proposal would also include digitizing the emergency systems, giving them their own spectrum.
In planning broadband expansion a decade ago, no one could have predicted the Netflix phenomenon and just how much bandwidth the average household would demand, he told the audience. And just as the market shifted to accommodate that demand, it is shifting again as people use their computers less and their mobile devices more.
“Ten years ago, 90 per cent of the data in the world went landline and 10 per cent went mobile. By 2022, that number will be flipped,” he said.