Proposed TELUS towers to improve service west of Houston

TELUS plans to build two new towers west of Houston to improve cellular coverage and wireless internet.

TELUS plans to build two new towers west of Houston to improve cellular coverage and wireless internet for over 20 kilometres along Highway 16.

TELUS spokesperson Liz Sauvé says the proposed 60-metre-tall, guyed towers, would be located five kilometres west of Houston and 16.5 kilometres west of Houston, making highway travel safer and giving better coverage to rural residents in that area.

She says that the $1 million project is dependant on approval from the Agricultural Land Reserve, but if everything moves along as they plan, construction will begin this year and the two sites will be live by 2014.

The towers are part of the ten-year Connecting B.C. Agreement (CBCA) that TELUS made with the provincial government in 2011 to improve wireless coverage throughout highway corridors in B.C., said Sauvé.

Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) Director and Chair Bill Miller says they have put pressure  behind TELUS to improve service as well.

Miller says they met with Minister of Citizens Services and Open Government Ben Stewart at the 2012 UBCM conference last September.

They talked about how the regional district does not have full coverage and asked the government to put on pressure to improve internet and cell phone service, Miller said.

RDBN Executive Assistant Wendy Wainwright says they told Minister Stewart that 52 homes and 18 businesses in the Houston area are without service, and coverage is needed along Highway 16 and in remote areas of the region.

She says Minister Stewart told them that the province is committed to conductivity, but the regional district is vast and conductivity between Prince Rupert to Prince George is very expensive, over $50 million.

As part of the CBCA, TELUS promised to introduce 1,700 kilometres of cell phone coverage throughout B.C. and Wainwright says Regional Districts are approving development in areas where internet and cell coverage is not feasible.

Miller says that TELUS records show that certain northwest regions have more service than they actually do, so the regional district is collecting information to show the lack of cell phone coverage in areas such as Houston.

Houston residents are asked to go to http://rdbn.bc.ca/148-media-releases/251-high-speed-internet-and-cell-phone-access and provide RDBN with feedback about their internet and cell phone service, to help them as they lobby to get more service.