Telus, Bell Have Yet to Join Rogers Highway 14 Cell Network

Customers of Telus and Bell on Highway 14 on Vancouver Island in B.C., encompassing the areas of Sooke to Port Renfrew, are currently unable to access the new cellular service by Rogers, as a roaming agreement has not yet been signed between the telecom rivals.

Despite going live in May, only Rogers customers can utilize the new wireless cell coverage for general use, while Telus, Bell and others are restricted to emergency calls such as 911 and emergency alerts. The remote stretch of Highway 14 includes several communities and provincial parks.

“People are frustrated if they’re Telus or Bell customers,” said Capital Regional District director Al Wickheim, adding, “I think a lot felt that once the line was done, everyone would have service.”

Rogers told the Times Colonist wireless service is available to any Canadian wireless provider opting into domestic roaming on its new network, as per CRTC rules. However, Bell and Telus have not done so, leaving their customers without non-emergency cell coverage.

Cindy Grauer, who handles government relations for Rogers in B.C., said the decision not to offer service along Highway 14 remains in the hands of Telus and Bell.

“Bell and Telus roam on each other’s networks, but have not opted in to roam on any others,” said Grauer. “This is why Bell and Telus customers cannot get service on Highway 14.”

The Province has expressed that it provided funding to ensure all cell users could make emergency 911 calls, but it is up to other carriers to provide access to their customers for non-emergency calls.

So far, Telus and Bell have not committed to a timeframe for opting in. Rogers did not comment on potential sharing agreements.

The wireless service project had previously faced numerous challenges, including construction delays and supply-chain issues. The B.C government spent nearly $5 million on the project, with Rogers contributing $695,000.

Alternate director for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, Jeri Grant, said “it would be really stupid” for Telus and Bell to not join the Rogers network.

“If I were a Telus customer, I would probably end my contract and move over to Rogers,” said Grant. “Essentially, when you leave Otter Point, you don’t have cell coverage. You’re roaming over to the U.S.”

While local accommodations offer Wi-Fi for customers, some guests staying at places such as Wild Renfrew have accepted not having a Telus or Bell cell signal, allowing them to just enjoy the outdoors. But some visitors have switched to Rogers from the latter’s rivals to get cell coverage.

The whole story has “shades of the Toronto subway”, said Peter Nowak from TekSavvy, referring to how Rogers now owns the TTC wireless network, but Telus and Bell have yet to sign on.

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