Cell service improves along Hwy16

Telus towers part of 10-year contract it has with the province

Upgrades to cellular service along Highway 16 continue, with two more stretches of service going live earlier this month and another slated to be complete by the end of the year.

The 40 kilometres of upgrades, including a section between Terrace and Kitwanga, are part of a 10-year agreement the province of British Columbia signed with Telus in 2011. In exchange for the lucrative government contract, the telecommunications company has committed to implementing cellular service along rural highways in the province.

“They have agreed to provide about 1,700 kilometres of cellular service that is otherwise marginal for them, but as part of our deal we get to push them to provide it,” said Andrew Wilkinson provincial minister for technology, innovation and citizens’ service. “We turn to them and say, look, we are your single biggest customer and as part of that you owe us some special arrangements and one of those is to provide sections of coverage along highways that you otherwise wouldn’t.”

It’s not easy to place towers in this area of the province, he said, noting the large capital investment required in order to access remote, rugged terrain.

“You can imagine they don’t get enough revenue off these sections of highway to justify the investment,” said Wilkinson.

Improved cell service along the highway was one of several recommendations that came out of commissioner Wally Oppal’s December 2012 public inquiry report on missing and murdered women, which builds on recommendations from the 2006 Highway of Tears symposium.

“It’s a whole suite of recommendations that came out of the Oppal report and this is one corner of it,” Wilkinson said, noting its one area where his ministry has leverage.

“More cellular coverage obviously leads to greater safety, because large percentage of our population now has cell phones so if they’re in situations, whether its a broken down vehicle or find themselves in need of some assistance, having cell coverage is the next big step to being able to look out for their personal safety.”

The project is being done in increments, with construction on the next sections set to begin in 2015 for a 2016 projected completion date. Telus has an agreement with Bell to allow them to use their towers, meaning cellular customers with other providers, namely Rogers, will not have full connectivity but will have emergency coverage.

Meanwhile, the main recommendation of the Oppal report – that for improved transportation and a shuttle bus along Highway 16 – hasn’t seen much movement.

And that’s been the subject of criticism from the official opposition, particularly North Coast NDP MLA Jennifer Rice.






Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Four air ambulance flights out of Terrace delayed or cancelled

Pandemic precautions caused nighttime closure of service station providing weather data to pilots

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

UPDATE: missing 12-year-old Terrace boy found safe

Was reported missing on Southside around 10 p.m. July 9

Terrace conservation officers relocate Spirit bear

Bear roamed Kitsumkalum Valley north of Terrace for many years

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

Northern B.C. First Nations call for reversal of grizzly bear hunting ban

Growing grizzly populations have led to fewer ungulates and increased fear of attacks says Chad Day

Most Read