NetCentral Western Manitoulin cell tower project gets the green light with funding from FedNor

MANITOULIN— Residents, business and tourists in Western Manitoulin, including Evansville, Providence Bay, Sheshegwaning and Zhiibaahaasing First Nations and Meldrum Bay, will soon have access to expanded cellular and mobile broadband high speed Internet services due to a $4,458,906 public-private investment arranged by NetCentral Community Communications Network. The investment is made up of a $1,486,302 grant from FedNor, $1,486,302 grant from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), a $647,528 commitment from Bell and a $838,774 commitment from Rogers.

The Expositor reported earlier this month on the grant from the NOHFC, with NetCentral General Manager Morry Brown commenting that NetCentral was still waiting on a formal announcement from FedNor before the project would proceed with that announcement coming late last week.

Mr. Brown explained that both companies will co-locate on the towers so that there would be access for both Bell and Rogers customers on all four towers.

“Our target date for having service in place is late 2016,” said Mr. Brown. “We are looking forward to being able to provide great cellular and broadband coverage for Manitoulin residents, youth, businesses and tourists.”

“Four new communications towers will be constructed over the next 24 months to provide cellular and high-speed wireless broadband services through Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology,” notes a press release from NetCentral. “Broadband LTE provides download speeds of up to 25 megabites per second (mbps) which enables users to transmit and receive large data files.”

“Bell and Rogers together committed one-third of the capital cost of the project to construct two towers and co-locate on each other’s towers,” the press release adds. “FedNor and NOHFC each committed one-third of the capital cost of the towers and equipment which will serve Highways 551, 542 and 540 and communities including Providence Bay, Evansville, Sheshegwaning First Nation, Zhiibaahaasing First Nation and Meldrum Bay.”

NetCentral completed a seven-tower project on (and just outside of) Manitoulin last fall with towers erected in Kagawong/M’Chigeeng, Manitowaning, Mindemoya, South Baymouth, Little Current, Sheguiandah and Wood Lake (Highway 6, south of Espanola).