CRD Chair Al Richmond

CRD Chair Al Richmond

Cell phone, Internet access hit and miss in the Cariboo

Cell phone and Internet access remains hit and miss for many rural residents in the Cariboo Chilcotin.

Cell phone and Internet access remains hit and miss for many rural residents in the Cariboo Chilcotin.

During a presentation to the Cariboo Regional District, Bert Braybrook, TELUS general manager of customer solutions delivery for the community, heard that message from many rural directors.

Chad Mernett, director of Area K in the East Chilcotin wondered if there are any plans for his region, and heard TELUS has yet to reach the break-even point along Highway 20.

“We’re dealing with a lot of mountains and corridors along river beds, with a lot more challenges,” Braybrook said. “As a business we’re looking to invest where we can get a solid return and right now, unfortunately, given the sparsity and the challenges it’s not something on our immediate horizon.

Area H Director Margo Wagner said at every single community meeting she’s asked if cell service and high speed Internet service is coming soon.

Fibre optic cable  goes through the Forest Grove area, yet people aren’t able to connect to it, she added.

“We’re not hooked up to any high speed Internet because my understanding is you guys won’t make any money off of it,” she told Braybrook.

She hears an “unbelievable” amount of frustration from residents because ABC communications is in the area with a couple of towers, she said.

“I appreciate that you’re a business and you have to make money, but I don’t think you realize the amount of summer residential properties that are in my region, primarily owned by people who live in the Lower Mainland or are from Alberta that would be more than willing to pay a seasonal connect and disconnect,” she suggested.

Braybrook confirmed there is fibre optic in the area, but said other factors come into play when cell sites are built, such as the availability of power and whether it’s sustainable, as well as real estate.

“Some people are more forgiving of having a cell tower in their close proximity and obviously we want to put them in where the greatest populations are.”

Wagner told him she has lots of land and would be willing to offer some for a cell tower.

Echoing Wagner, Wells mayor Robin Sharpe said fibre optics comes out to his community and to Barkerville but there’s no high speed Internet.

“How much is the cost to put one in and would it be viable in the Wells area,” he asked, to which Braybrook answered on average the cost is $500,000 if things go well.

He also said sometimes the capacity within a fibre optic system is allocated for existing network related activities and sometimes is not available to TELUS.

Area E director Byron Kemp said cell phone service in the fringe areas of Williams Lake is nil or spotty, and he receives many complaints.

“I’m getting an awful lot of complaints with regards to this particularly with Eagle View which is only eight kilometres out of Williams Lake up the hill,” he said, adding his old bag phone got better coverage than the cell phone he owns.

Area A director Ted Armstrong said he has received no communication from TELUS about a cell tower planned for a site near his home.

“I haven’t had a phone call, letter, email or anything,” Armstrong said.

Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom said everyone wants service but whenever cell towers are proposed there is opposition.

“If people want the service they have to support it, but communication and education would probably alleviate concerns. When I was in Fort St. John last I saw a huge cell tower in the parking lot downtown by Safeway.”

High speed Internet would be an asset in Barkerville and other spots in his region, Area C director John Massier said. “We’re trying to set up a conservation learning institute and turn our 1860s classroom into a more modern technological venue for people to learn,” Massier said.

Braybrook said TELUS invested $4.5 million into the Cariboo region in 2012 on cellular upgrades or installation of new sites.

“Some of those sites were mostly along Highway 24, Deka Lake, Lac La Hache, a new site at Enterprise and as well as Soda Creek to try and fill in thte blank spots throughout the Interior.”

There won’t be quite as much investment in 2013, but TELUS is looking at doing some upgrades, in and around the 100 Mile House area to increase capacity. The last couple of years the challenge has been the shift in technology.

Presently traditional copper wire service is what’s in place in most areas and one of the things TELUS is considering is changing to fibre optic technology.

Strictly in the planning stages and assessing costs, the company doesn’t have any firm dates to offer as to when and if the changes might take place.

Recently phone service was installed for the Canoe Creek Band, he added. New wireless sites will be installed in 2014 possibly at 108 Mile and McLeese Lake, and increased capacity at Mount Bigbie, Williams Lake Airport, 150 Mile, Alexandria, Deka Lake and other areas around Williams Lake.


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

Just Posted

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

The first Chimney Creek Roadhouse, constructed in 1864. (Photo courtesy of the B.C. Provincial Archives)
HAPHAZARD HISTORY: The Isnardy family of Williams Lake

Amadee Isnardy was born in 1840 near Nice, France

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Quesnel Observer.
FOREST INK: Ecological economics not a popular topic for most people

The following is a review of the no (or slow) growth concept

Do you have a letter? Email us at
LETTER: BC Liberals left ICBC a mess: Farnworth

Our BC NDP government has worked tirelessly to fix the mess that was left behind

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read