The B.C. government is set to launch wireless coverage along a stretch of Highway 16, with a cell tower coming from Rogers. This new 4G LTE wireless service will bring coverage to Witset First Nation and other surrounding areas.
“This new cell tower will make it much easier for people to call for help during an emergency and is another essential element to further improve safety along Highway 16,” said Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens’ Services, in an issued statement. “Expanded cellular connectivity, along with the new affordable and reliable BC Bus North service and additional Wi-Fi for many provincial highway rest stops, are making B.C. a safer place to live, work and travel.”
From New Hazelton to Smithers, Rogers and Fido users will gain continuous network coverage, while other wireless users will have access to 911 emergency services.
Rick Sellers, B.C. president, Rogers Communications, said “We are pleased to be working with the B.C. government, Northern Development Initiative Trust and the Witset community to build reliable connectivity for residents in Northern British Columbia. We know our customers want high quality wireless access, whether travelling the highway, accessing community resources, or connecting with family and friends.”
The B.C. government says “every Indigenous community along the Highway of Tears will have access to modern cellular connectivity. Approximately 900 people in Witset First Nation and 5,000 Smithers-and-area residents will benefit from improved cell service.”
The project is being funded by a one-time $1.2 million grant from the provincial government. Northern Development Initiative Trust selected Rogers for the project through an open tendering process.
The announcement is significant for local communities, as Highway 16 from Prince George to Prince Rupert has been known as the Highway of Tears, associated with unsolved cases of murdered or missing Indigenous women and girls.
The cell tower began construction last month and is expected to be finished “in the coming months”.