Citizen improvement group to lobby for inclusion in Manitoulin cellular project

Tom Sasvari

The Recorder

MELDRUM BAY—The Dawson Citizens Improvement Association (DCIA) will be lobbying to get cell service in their area, as part of the current NetCentral enhanced cell program for much of the Island, which is to be completed later this year or early in 2013.

“On the cell phone service plans they have when we talked previously, we thought they would also be looking at the towers we have here as part of this program,” stated Dale VanEvery, president of the DCIA at the group’s annual general meeting last Saturday in Meldrum Bay. “They are telling us the enhanced cell services will be in place on the Island starting later this year or early 2013.”

“This project does not include our community,” said Mr. VanEvery. “We were told the towers we have here are compatible, but right now they (NetCentral) are not looking at the system here.”

“This is something we should definitely be fighting for—it would be great for local people and tourism,” he continued. “If people need their cell phones and the service is not available, they won’t be here.”

As reported previously, NetCentral Community Communications Network, a not-for-profit community-based telecommunications network, received funding and initiated a project in conjunction with Rogers to install seven cellular towers to improve reception across Manitoulin.

NetCentral had submitted and received funding through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) to expand cellular and mobile broadband services by installing seven towers on Highway 6 and throughout Manitoulin Island. The seven towers will deliver high-speed packet access (HSPA) technology for both cellular telephone and mobile broadband service to Rogers subscribers.

The original proposed sites included Willisville, Whitefish Falls, Manitowaning, Sheguiandah, Wikwemikong, South Baymouth and M’Chigeeng. However, after NetCentral discovered that Bell was planning on installing a tower in Wikwemikong and realizing the need for a tower in the Mindemoya area, the Wikwemikong tower was changed to Mindemoya. It is expected the sites will be deployed by the end of the 2013 fiscal year.

It was pointed out by one member at the meeting Saturday that the DCIA should be contacting Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha.

“We need to contact him and NetCentral to get this service here—we already have the towers,” said Mr. VanEvery.

“Silver Water should also be fighting for the these cell services being hooked up there as well,” said one member of the DCIA.