British Columbia’s Ministry of Citizens’ Services on Friday announced a joint project with Rogers Communications Inc. (RCI) to improve cellular coverage along Highway 3 between Hope and Keremeos.
“We are working hard to expand connectivity where it’s most needed in the province,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services.
“Cellular coverage along key transport routes like Highway 3 is important for both commercial and recreational travellers, as it will enable people to stay connected and to access road safety updates and important emergency services while on the road.”
Cellular coverage along this specific section of Highway 3 has several gaps, with the biggest ones located between Hope and Manning Park and between Princeton and Keremeos.
Rogers, with help from the Province, will install 11 new cell towers between Hope and Keremeos, covering an estimated 92 kilometres of Highway 3 and bridging all the connectivity gaps that exist along it to ensure consistent cellular coverage across the entire route.
The project seeks to improve safety for travellers and ensure the reliability of cellular services, especially since they are often needed on highways to get in touch with emergency services. The B.C. government is currently also working on improving highway infrastructure following recent floods.
“Improved connectivity along essential transport routes like Highway 3 will help keep people and businesses safe when they travel,” said Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development and MLA for Boundary-Similkameen.
“Emergencies like the recent flooding and landslides have highlighted the importance of access to reliable cellular coverage for the safety of people travelling our province.”
The undertaking is estimated to cost $9.7 million. The Province will invest up to $3.1 million through the Connecting British Columbia grant program, which is administered through the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT), with Rogers footing the rest of the bill.
“Recent climate events in B.C. have shown how vulnerable our infrastructure can be and the importance of connectivity in an emergency situation,” said Jorge Fernandes, chief technology officer at Rogers.
“We are pleased to work together with the Government of B.C. and NDIT to deliver much-needed cellular coverage that will ensure access to mobile calls, data and emergency numbers, providing peace of mind and safety for travellers along this route.”
The estimated time of completion for this project is fall 2024. Rogers is also working on adding 12 new cell towers along B.C.’s infamous Highway of Tears, where the first was deployed back in 2018. Other highway cell coverage expansion projects from Rogers include Highways 95 and 97, as well as Highways 14 and 16.