Dawson residents lobby for Island-wide cellular service

Tom Sasvari

The Recorder

MELDRUM BAY—The Dawson Citizens Improvement Association (DCIA) is asking for support from Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha for help in its lobbying to get cell phone 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.

As well, the DCIA is calling on other western Manitoulin municipalities, individuals and groups to make their voices known of the need for cellular service.

“I have talked to Mr. Mantha’s secretary about our concerns and the issue,” said Dale Van Every. “I have informed him about the seven cellular towers being installed to allow for cell phone service on the east end of the Island, to Mindemoya.”

Mr. Van Every explained Omniglobe Broadband had constructed towers in Meldrum Bay, Sheshegwaning, Silver Water, Barrie Island and Burpee-Mills for high speed Internet, and the towers are compatible for cell phone service as well. With one more tower located between Mindemoya and the one in Burpee-Mills, the whole Island would have the necessary infrastructure in place for the service.

“We need this service because we are trying to attract tourists and resident traffic to this end of the Island and without cell services it makes it a lot harder to do,” said Mr. Van Every. “As well, we have an older population and when the power goes out, everyone on cordless phones can’t contact emergency vehicles for instance, so there is a safety as well in needing cellular service.”

“I am asking him (Mr. Mantha) for his help on this issue,” said Mr. Van Every. “Basically, I’m also going to ask Burpee-Mills and all residents west to contact the MPP about this as well for their support. If we don’t scream and holler, we won’t get anything. I think there are a lot of people interested in this service and hopefully we will get a lot of support.”

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 phone 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 a 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.