Rogers, governments to split cost of boosting wireless service in Eastern Ontario

Cornwall and Kingston are among the communities covered by the project
Wireless tower
Stock image, for illustrative purposes only.

Rogers Communications Inc. has entered into a public-private partnership to build more than 300 new towers to improve wireless service in underserved parts of Eastern Ontario.

About half of the funding for the $300-million project, which will establish or boost wireless reception in more than 100 municipalities and several First Nations communities, will come from governments at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels.

Rogers will provide the other $150 million and lead the project. Construction of nearly 350 new transmission towers will begin this spring and continue through 2025, while more than 300 existing towers will be upgraded.

About $10 million will come from local organizations that had previously arranged for the provincial and federal governments to provide $71 million each for the project.

The local groups want to expand wireless coverage to support smartphone apps and streaming video, and provide reliable calling service for emergencies – services that are commonplace in urban areas of Canada.

Debbie Robinson, chair of the Eastern Ontario Wardens' Caucus, said Friday that improved connectivity has been “one of our top priorities for a long time.”

“And this past year has shown us just how critical good reliable connectivity is to our success and to our well-being,” Robinson added.

“While we initiated the project well before COVID-19, we know it will be key for the region's economic recovery and to improve quality of life, and public safety for all of our communities.”

Municipalities covered by the project include Peterborough, Pembroke, Cornwall, Kingston and Belleville.

First Nations involved are Mohawk communities in the Bay of Quinte area near Belleville and Akwesasne near Cornwall.

The announcement comes as Rogers and its rivals race to update and expand their networks to provide fifth-generation wireless services.