The sound of a cellular phone dropping a call should be a little less common for residents and visitors in certain parts of North Glengarry and Alfred and Plantagenet.

On Monday, November 7, the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) announced in Maxville that Rogers 5G services are now available in and around Maxville, Greenfield, Glen Robertson, and Wendover.

The EORN Cell Gap project is a $300 million public-private partnership. About half of the funding is from the Ontario and federal governments. The rest of the funding comes from the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus (EOWC), which is the organization of county wardens across Eastern Ontario, and the Eastern Ontario Mayors Caucus (EOMC), which represents mayors of larger cities across Eastern Ontario. Rogers communications was selected through a competitive bidding process.

“Often, Canadians feel disconnected. Rest assured, Canadians will feel more connected,” said Glengarry-Prescott and Russell Member of Parliament Francis Drouin.

Stormont, Dundas, South Glengarry Member of Provincial Parliament Nolan Quinn attended the Maxville announcement and emphasized the importance of good cellular service for communication and public safety.

“It’s been a long, long road,” was how EORN Chair and outgoing Peterborough County Warden J. Murray Jones described the process of implementing the Cell Gap Project.

Four new cell towers were constructed as part of the expansion in North Glengarry and Alfred and Plantagenet. Those towers are part of the 300 new towers and colocations of Rogers equipment with other telecommunications companies, and upgrades to an additional 300 towers which will be completed as part of the EORN Cell Gap Project by 2025. More than 260 sites have already been upgraded.

The area included within the EORN, EOWC, and EOMC goes from Northumberland County, Kawartha Lakes, and Haliburton County in the west to the Ontario-Québec boundary. Russell Township Mayor Pierre Leroux is a member of the EORN Board of Directors.

EORN Lead and Hastings County Chief Administrative Officer Jim Pine said there are “many more steps to take,” to complete the Cell Gap Project, including in remaining areas of need in Prescott and Russell and Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry.

“Rogers is making great gains in getting local approval,” Pine said.

Rogers Wireless Senior Vice President and General Manager Bart Nickerson said expansion goes ahead faster in areas where approvals have been given.

Those approvals include environmental assessments and consultations with Indigenous people.

“Our community continues to be involved with each cellular tower site,” said Chief Wendy Jocko of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan (Golden Lake).

When asked if the EORN Cell Gap Project will contribute to lower rates for cellular phone customers, Nickerson federal efforts to increase consumer selection will be the factor that lowers costs.

“As competition grows, it will continue to go down,” Nickerson said.