British Columbians will get better highway cell coverage
March 21, 2023
VICTORIA – The Province is supporting new cellular projects that will enable better safety for travellers along key transportation routes across British Columbia.
“Access to cellular coverage is important when on the road, especially when travelling through remote and rural areas,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “With the Province’s investment in new cellular infrastructure, we’re making it possible for more people to stay connected to their loved ones while travelling and have access to emergency 911 and other services via mobile connectivity.”
The Government of British Columbia is investing $75 million through the Connecting British Columbia program, administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust, to help fund projects that will expand cellular to at least another 550 kilometres of highway by 2027.
“Our government is investing in highway cell connectivity projects so people can stay connected,” said Michele Babchuk, MLA for North Island, the Premier’s liaison for connectivity. “Today’s announcement to improve access to cellular services means that people travelling on our highways will have more confidence knowing they can access maps, search for roadside services along their route, or call for help in case of an emergency.”
The funding builds on a $15-million investment made by the Province for highway cellular expansion in 2020, which is supporting 532 km of additional highway cellular coverage. Projects underway include 252 km and two rest areas to complete continuous coverage along the stretch of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert, known as the Highway of Tears.
The Province’s investment is part of the StrongerBC, B.C.’s Economic Plan to build back a strong economy with a focus on inclusive growth for all communities.
The Province supports the expansion of highway cellular in B.C. by contributing to the overall cost of the projects led by service providers. More information regarding the program and funding eligibility will be available later in 2023.
Connectivity in B.C.: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/connectivity-in-bc
Northern Development Initiative Trust: https://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/funding-programs/partner-programs/connecting-british-columbia/
StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Plan: https://strongerbc.ca/plan
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Citizens’ Services
What people are saying about better cell service on highways
Joel McKay, chief executive officer, Northern Development Initiative Trust –
“This $75-million infusion to the Connecting British Columbia program will result in increased safety for all those who live and travel in remote and isolated areas of our province. Improving connectivity in rural and Indigenous communities will strengthen community resiliency, providing timely access to information in case of emergency and encouraging entrepreneurial activities. Northern Development applauds the Province of B.C. for investing in cellular connectivity and we look forward to administering this new phase of the Connecting British Columbia program.”
Tony Geheran, executive vice-president and CEO, Telus –
“Today’s announcement by the Government of British Columbia will ensure people travelling in the province, particularly through remote areas, can stay connected to loved ones and access emergency services. Importantly, this investment will also help to improve safety for those at greater risk, including Indigenous women and girls. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership to expand the reach of our world-leading networks and close the remaining connectivity gaps on B.C.’s highways.”
Ron McKenzie, chief technology and information officer, Rogers Communications –
“Rogers is proud to partner with the B.C. government to improve connectivity and safety for travellers through our cellular expansion projects, including highways 14 and 16. We welcome today’s announcement and look forward to that continued partnership on new projects so British Columbians can connect to the people and things they love in more places.”
Dan Verdun, fire chief, City of Campbell River –
“Connectivity between the public and first responders is a critical step in the city’s ability to respond to and mitigate incidents in Campbell River and surrounding areas on Vancouver Island. Infrastructure upgrades in British Columbia support this critical step and improve Canadian’s abilities to reach 911 in an emergency, which is potentially life-saving.”
Stewart Dumont, BCPFFA trustee, Campbell River Firefighters –
“This project will allow for a much more connectivity along roadways, thus increasing accuracy of rescue locations from initial callers to rescue crews. Being digitally connected on the highways will provide key details from 911 callers to emergency dispatchers and will help save lives.”
Sgt. Kimberly Rutherford, Campbell River RCMP –
“An emergency on a remote highway is often critical in nature. Currently, without cellular service, victims of motor-vehicle incidents can be stranded for hours until someone happens upon them and can send for help. Improving cellular service will be a game changer in how quickly people will be able to access the emergency response they need when they need it; a little more piece of mind for our citizens living and working in more remote parts of our province.”
Ministry of Citizens’ Services