October 26th, 2023 – The Province is taking action to make sure all Nova Scotians have access to cellular service, no matter where they live or travel.
On October 26, 2023, the Province announced it is investing $47.3 million to start the new Cellular for Nova Scotia Program to expand telecommunications infrastructure and communications networks throughout the province.
Build Nova Scotia has been charged by the Province to plan, design, and manage the implementation of expanded cellular coverage throughout the province.
Led by Build Nova Scotia, this will involve a two-phased approach:
- The first Request for Proposals (RFP) is seeking innovative and cost-effective proposals to install cellular equipment on existing provincially-owned towers and other existing towers and/or infrastructure identified by proponents to expand cell coverage in underserved areas. The focus is on more immediate innovative solutions.
- RFP 2 will follow to seek solutions to address remaining gap areas.
This will also ensure that the solutions identified are sustainable and are being coordinated with federal and provincial initiatives planned or underway, while ensuring maximum coverage as early as possible.
This investment is based on an initial understanding/analysis of the anticipated cost however responses to the RFPs will better determine exact costs.
Build Nova Scotia will look to maximize investments from and leverage key partnerships with the Federal Government, municipalities, and the private sector.
The coverage objective is to provide cellular coverage to 99% of Nova Scotia where people live, work, and travel. This is for basic voice call service.
Overall, the goal is to achieve the following coverage targets throughout the populated areas of the province:
- 99% coverage for Basic Voice Call service
- 95% coverage for Standard-Definition service (eg. emails, web browsing and social media)
- 85% coverage for High-Definition service (eg. video conferencing, movie streaming, and other data intensive applications)
The initial focus will be in major transportation corridors and areas with civic addresses.
A separate $3.3M is being invested to build four new trunked mobile radio 2 (TMR2) towers to expand radio coverage for first responders in West Bay Road/Marble Mountain, Pleasant Bay in Inverness County, Framboise, Richmond County, and Greenfield in Queen’s County.
These areas were identified as strategic locations that would play a role in the expansion of rural coverage for the TMR2 Public Safety Radio network.
This could also help improve cell coverage access if telecommunications providers attach their equipment to those towers to extend coverage.
In 2022, Build Nova Scotia commissioned a cell gap study on behalf of the Province to study cell service levels and identify critical gaps throughout the province. This study and additional analysis has provided a clearer understanding of a common challenge experienced across the country and helped define the scope of the problem. Findings of the study confirm the civic addresses and stretches of roadways that do not have adequate and consistent cell coverage. This will continue to be refined with ongoing discussions and RFP responses.
Through the program, a comprehensive strategy to increase cell coverage will involve working with telecommunications companies and government partners.
For more information, visit internet.buildns.ca/cell