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Cellular for Nova Scotia Program

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.

An initial cell gap study, and additional analysis, provides an understanding of the scope of the problem.

The goal of this project is to develop, as quickly, efficiently, and effectively as possible, a plan that covers as much of the province as soon as practicable. The project will involve a two-phased approach:

  • The first phase included a Request for Proposals (RFP), which is now closed, and submissions are under review. As part of this request, service providers were asked to consider submitting proposals that used any existing infrastructure that would help close gaps and improve service in underserved areas. The focus of this round is two-fold: more immediate innovative solutions and speed of delivery.
  • The second phase will include an additional RFP to seek solutions to address remaining gap areas, including creating infrastructure.

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. Build Nova Scotia will look to maximize investments from and leverage key partnerships with the Federal Government, municipalities, and the private sector.

Overall, the goal is to reach the following coverage targets throughout the populated areas of the province: 

  1. 99% coverage for Basic Voice Call service
  2. 95% coverage for Standard-Definition service (eg.  emails, web browsing and social media)
  3. 85% coverage for High-Definition service (eg. video conferencing, movie streaming, and other data intensive applications)

The initial focus will be major transportation corridors and areas with civic addresses.

A separate $3.3 million 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 the full news release, visit News & Resources.

For additional program information, visit the FAQs section. We will continue to provide updates and additional information as the program progresses.

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