The highway between Prince Rupert and Prince George will have cell coverage within four years if Telus has their way. The telecommunications giant is in a five-year partnership with the Province of B.C. to add coverage to over 1,100 kilometres of highway in northern B.C., including highways 16 and 97.
“The main reason we’re working with the province on this is public safety…We’re really trying to fill the gaps,” Telus Real Estate and Government Affairs Manager Doug Anastos told Port Edward council.
“Our commitment is to complete this work by July 2016, so a lot is going on right now. We’re working really hard to meet that goal.”
Telus plans to add three new cell towers within the boundary of the Skeena – Queen Charlotte Regional District to cover the highway leading to Terrace, but the number of towers between Prince Rupert and Terrace will depend on where the sites are located.
“Without mountains, cell towers can cover about 50 kilometres, but with mountains a cell tower can only cover 11 or 12 kilometres. Between here and Terrace we’d probably need six or seven towers,” he said, adding that phones on the Bell and Telus network would be covered but coverage for Rogers phones would depend on the company building towers for their network.
“The sites in this district likely wouldn’t be installed until 2015. We haven’t finalized those locations yet.”
Regardless of the timing, the news was welcomed by Port Edward councillors.
“The sooner this happens the better,” said councillor Dan Franzen.
“It’s about time. There are a lot of times where you need a hand and you can’t get it because there is no cell phone coverage,” added Mayor Dave MacDonald.