| Jul 10, 2008

Feature Article - July 10, 2008

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Feature Article - July 10, 2008 Addington Highlands CouncilBy Jeff Green

New cell phone company makes overture in Flinton

OmniGlobe Networks, the company that is slated to bring broadband internet service to rural Frontenac and L&A Counties, is already branching out.

Lynx Mobility, a company that is so new it has not yet been formally launched, is a partnership between OmniGlobe Networks and Naskapi Immun, a corporation based in the Naskapi First Nation which is located in Northern Quebec.

Benoit Fleury from OmniGlobe and Balgovind Pande, a consultant who works for the Naskapi Immun Corporation, made a presentation to a meeting of Addington Highlands Council on Monday, July 7, in which they talked about the possibility of bringing cell phone service to the Cloyne area, perhaps making use of towers being constructed for the OmniGlobe broadband project.

Benoit Fleury said that 7-10% of Canadians do not have access to cellphone service, or roughly 3 million people, and this is the market that Lynx Mobility will be focused on.

“The large cellphone providers, Bell Telus and Rogers, are focused on population densities in the thousands. One of them told me that under the 10,000 threshold point it does not make sense for the incumbents to move into rural areas,” said Benoit Fleury.

This was not news to Addington Highlands Council. A couple of years ago, under former Reeve Ken Hook, council offered a $50,000 incentive to any of the major cell providors to encourage them to construct towers in Northbrook and Cloyne to serve the Highway 41 corridor, to no avail.

“We focus on communities with populations of under 2,000 people,” said Fleury.

“The Naskapi Immun has set up projects in remote locations, and has developed an understanding of how to set up services in remote communities. We also have lots of experience in how to access government funding,” said Balgovind Pande in outlining the expertise that his corporation is bringing to the Lynx Mobility partnership.

Benoit Fleury said that the first thing that must be done if this project is to move forward is to ensure that the towers that OmniGlobe is constructing this summer will be capable of supporting cellular equipment as well as high speed internet equipment.

“We need to move quickly on that,” he said.

Depending on the terrain, a radius of 15-20 km could be served by one tower.

Aside from that issue, Fleury said the next step in the process would be to identify a “priority coverage area, based on demographics, population density and other factors and then we can establish a business model.”

The preference for Lynx mobility would be for a locally based partner to step into the project.

“We call it a franchise model but it really is a partnership model with a local operator. It would provide a business opportunity and perhaps some local employment,” Balgovind Pande said. “But,” he added, “Lynx Mobility could be the operator.”

For a cellphone business to be successful, Benoit Fleury said it would be preferrable to have five or six hundred subscribers. “You can do it with less, but as the numbers drop further it becomes more difficult,” he said.

Ken Hook, who attended the meeting as a member of the AHEAD Committee (Addington Highlands Economic Advisory For Development) asked if it wasn't possible that once the service was up and running, “one of the big cell companies will jump in and decide to provide service, leaving the local business operator hanging,”

“It is a free market economy,” said Balgovind Pande.

“It still won't be the kind of area that will be particularly attractive to the incumbents, who would like greater density,” said Benoit Fleury.

Fleury said it would take 12-15 months to get service up and running if it turns out to be viable.

Reeve Henry Hogg thanked the two men for travelling to Flinton from their office in Montreal, and Council passed a motion appointing Henry Hogg, Ken Hook, and AHEAD committee chair Larry Pealow as contacts.

(In an attempt to receive further information about the OmniGlobe broadband internet offering from new towers in Cloyne, Mountain Grove and Plevna, the News attemtped to contact the company this week, but we were unable to contact the project coordinator. We will continue to seek information about the range and price of the service as well as the time frame for it to come online.)

Petition for ATVs misplaced, says Reeve

Fred Thompson headed a delegation that intended to work at convincing the township to open up the section of Highway 41 from the junction with Hwy. 7 north to Bon Echo Park to ATV use, but Henry Hogg said he was talking to the wrong level of government.

“We have no jurisdiction over Hwy. 41; it is a provincial highway. We can try to find out who you should be talking to at the Ministry of Transportation, but that's all we can do,” Hogg said.

ATVs are legal on Addington Highlands Township roads, ever since a bylaw was passed, in a split vote, by the council of the day in May of 2004.

By provincial law, ATVs are permitted north of Bon Echo on Highway 41, but not on the stretch between Highway 7 and Bon Echo Park.

“I think that is because of traffic counts,” said Hook,” but you would have to check with the province.

The Addington Highlands bylaw also does not apply on Lennox and Addington County roads within the township, such as the Flinton Road, Hogg added.

“You'd have to contact the county in Napanee to change that rule,” said Hogg.

Cloyne dump hours and Skootamatta ratepayers – Deputy Reeve Helen Yanch told council she had an “interesting time” at the Skootamatta Property Owners Association meeting. One of the issues raised was the fact that a Request For Proposal for a development on Sheldrake Lake had been set out after the cottagers had left for the fall last year.

“I told the people at the meeting that I would bring this to the attention of council,” Yanch said, “and I am. I would hope in the future that there is some way we can communicate better with the cottage association on matters like that, it would be a good idea.”

Another issue she heard about were the new dump hours at the Cloyne transfer station, specifically the 1 PM closing on Sundays in the summer.

“I didn't even know the hours had been changed,” Yanch said “and we don't set the hours, the hours were set by North Frontenac Township.”

The Cloyne site is jointly owned by the two townships.

“We pay 50% of the costs,” said Clerk Treasurer Jack Pauhl.

Helen Yanch made a motion that the township contact North Frontenac for clarification.

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