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Project aims to improve cell service in Eastern Ontario

By Riley Maracle

BELLEVILLE – Touchy cellphone service in Eastern Ontario may soon be a thing of the past.

The Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus – a group made up of the wardens of 13 counties in Eastern Ontario – has already been working through the Eastern Ontario Regional Network to improve Internet service in Eastern Ontario. With the growing success of that project the wardens group decided to move toward improving cellphone coverage.

After receiving many complaints about the lack of cell service, the EOWC has asked EORN to begin an analysis of where the problems are. This analysis will be brought to the federal and provincial governments to seek funding for projects to improve the service.

Mayor Peter Mertens is the Prince Edward County’s representative for the project. He said he feels this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

“We’ve obviously determined that the need is there,” said Mertens. “Now what we have to do is we have to find the justification where we can go to both levels of government and say, ‘Listen (in) Eastern Ontario now, the lack of cell service is becoming a competitive disadvantage. But more importantly it is a problem for our emergency services.’ ”

Mertens added that he hopes better cellphone service will help attract people to these areas and improve the economy.

“I think it will have a huge impact. For people who want to work at home or want to work from wherever that have their laptops or have their handhelds (the service is) too unreliable … now to do that.”

Mertens said he feels that the working model the wardens group and EORN have for Internet will help make this a reality.

The EOWC hopes to have the analysis completed for its next meeting, which takes place in January.