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Cellular investments continue for B.C. highways

Cellular investments continue for B.C. highways

May 5, 2021 at 1:32 pm  BC, News, Politics

Cellular service is expanding along two B.C. highways, thanks to the Connecting British Columbia program’s record levels of investment in broadband and cellular infrastructure.

“People need to be able to communicate during an emergency, whether it’s to phone for roadside assistance or report a wildfire or flooding. The availability of a cellular signal can make all the difference for people and their families,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “This year’s record investments in connectivity are helping to fill in cellular gaps throughout the province. These are projects that will benefit people and families for years to come by making B.C. highways safer and more convenient.”

Cellular coverage will be extended into the community of Wells through an additional six kilometres of service along Highway 26. The Jack-of-Clubs Lake rest area will also be upgraded to offer Wi-Fi to travellers.

“Our world is becoming more and more connected, and we want to be sure that people using our rural transportation networks can fully capitalize on that connectivity,” said Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development. “Investments like these, combined with the improved safety and access to services that cellular and Wi-Fi provides, will help our regional economies recover and thrive in the post-pandemic world. Working together, we can ensure the incredible benefits of technology can be enjoyed by everyone in B.C.”

Families in Perow will also be able to use their cellphones in the area, as Telus will add eight kilometres of additional coverage in the community and along Highway 16.

“Cellphone technology can help reduce the time it takes to locate and rescue lost adventurers. For search and rescue, cellphone towers allow us to stay better connected and access real-time mapping to support situational awareness,” said Gerald Shut, search and rescue manager, Quesnel Search and Rescue. “Improving cell services along the Highway 26 corridor will assist with search and rescue, as well as other emergency responders who travel this highway. It’s a good idea for the travelling public and commerce as this highway is used extensively by people in agriculture, mining, logging, ranching and tourism.”

The Connecting British Columbia program provides grants that help service providers with the cost of expanding connectivity and making it more reliable in rural and Indigenous communities. The program is administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust.

“Northern Development is pleased to do its part to bring cell service to people in the communities of Wells and Perow. Cellular infrastructure provides immediate public safety benefits, while making it easier for people to stay in touch,” said Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust. “The benefits of investments like these will be felt for years to come as B.C. rebounds from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Connecting British Columbia program was expanded by $90 million in September 2020 as part of StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan. Record investments in connectivity projects are improving high-speed internet and cellular access for people in rural and Indigenous communities throughout B.C.

“These new cell towers bring important connectivity to stretches of highway that previously lacked coverage, enhancing the safety of travel across British Columbia and bringing local residents more peace of mind, knowing that help is only a phone call away when they are on the road,” said Raymond Saoumah, vice-president of wireless networks, Telus. “No organization has invested as much as Telus to connect B.C.’s highways, including bringing service to more than 1,700 kilometres of previously unconnected highway in partnership with the government since 2011, and we are excited to again partner with government to deliver upon our collective commitment to make British Columbia safer and more connected.”

The Telus projects in Perow and Wells are expected to be completed by Oct. 31, 2021.

Quick Fact:

  • The Connecting British Columbia program is providing Telus up to $844,000 for the cellular project in Wells and up to $911,000 for the infrastructure in Perow.

Learn More:

StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/

Connecting British Columbia program:
https://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/fundingprograms/partner-programs/connecting-british-columbia

Connectivity in B.C.: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/connectivity-in-bc

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