By Chad Ingram
Haliburton County is entering into a new agreement with Bell for the provision of high-speed Internet to a number of publicly owned buildings that will increase the number of public wireless hotspots in the municipality.
The deal facilitated through the Eastern Ontario Regional Network will cost the county approximately $360000 and see improved high-speed Internet service extended to 24 public buildings.
Rogers Communications Canada Inc. has informed the county of its intention to shut down its wireless network in the municipality by the end of May. This will affect eight points of presence at public buildings in the county.
“We need fibre everywhere we really do” said treasurer Laura Janke adding that the county should be doing anything it can to move toward that. “What Bell is telling us is they are growing the fibre network.”
The request for proposals (RFP) for the project was done through EORN seeking an optimal deal for the 13 municipalities that comprise the area represented by the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus.
“I think it’s important to point out the county is not the author of this RFP” said Algonquin Highlands Reeve and County Warden Carol Moffatt. “This is not a residential fibre project. It’s municipal connectivity.”
The county contributed $500000 to the $170-million EORN broadband project that was completed in 2014. That project attempted to provide high-speed Internet to 95 per cent of homes and businesses in the area although many residents in the county are still without access. Many residents have also expressed discontentment with the quality of the satellite Internet service meant to fill the gap areas.
The buildings that will be connected through the new project include the Haliburton County office on Newcastle Street in Minden; the Dysart Gooderham Minden Wilberforce Highland Grove and Cardiff branches of the Haliburton County Public Library; the Dorset Recreation Centre/library/Algonquin Highlands office on Main Street in Dorset; the Tory Hill and Minden EMS bases; the Algonquin Highlands office on North Shore Road; the Dysart arena; the Rails End Gallery; the Dysart township office; the Highlands East township office; the Minden Hills arena the Minden Hills township office; the county public works garages in Ingoldsby Eagle Lake Kinmount and Highland Grove; the Dysart roads garage; the Haliburton Highlands Museum; and the Minden Hills roads garage south of Minden.
Moffatt noted that some of the locations may seem strange but said the county is not an easy sell for telecommunications companies and that at this point it’s about providing as many points of presence as possible.
Moffatt also said the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus is working on trying to close the gaps in Internet service and that Xplornet is working on a rural wireless gap analysis.