Telus has launched new wireless coverage for residents, businesses and travellers along Highway 97 near Williams Lake, thanks to a partnership between the company and the province of British Columbia.
The 13-kilometre coverage area spans from just north of Chief Will-Yum campground to south of Soda Creek, Shawn Hall, Telus communications said Tuesday.
“It’s a $835,000 investment, in an urban area, the cost would be around $500,000 for the same distance,” Hall told the Tribune.
“What that tells you is this is a big challenging site. We had to run power and our infrastructure into the site after environmental reviews and everything, this was a substantial undertaking.”
A new cell tower was installed on Crown land, off a logging road near Lyne Creek Road, over the last several weeks, Hall explained.
“It’s a long process to put a site in. We have to identify where the best site is by the maximum amount of coverage. That can be a challenge depending on the geography.”
If areas are rocky and mountainous, the line-of-sight technology needs to find a site that has the best view into as much highway as possible.
Then the installer needs to find a landlord that’s interested in hosting a site. Sometimes that’s a municipal or provincial government or sometimes that’s a private landlord.
Hall confirmed Telus is continuing to look at expanding wireless access along Highway 97, as part of a $350 million 10-year Connecting British Columbia project signed with the province of B.C. to extend more telecommunications infrastructure around the province that will include providing wireless coverage along 1,700 kilometres of currently unserved highway corridor.
In rural areas where wired internet service is not “do-able” people are finding that wireless internet service is a great alternative, he added.
“In some areas, it’s easier to put up a wireless site. You can get internet speeds wirelessly that are comparable to what you get with a wired service in your wall now over the HSAP network.”
Part of the push for better service has come from the public.
“With more than 60 per cent of 911 calls today coming in over wireless phones, there’s an important public safety aspect here. These towers have the potential to save lives if people need to access emergency services while they are in rural areas or driving along the highway,” Hall said.