Rogers to expand wireless network along Highway 14 and 16 in B.C.

The expansion will close existing coverage gaps and improve reliability of cellular networks along both routes

Rogers announced plans to expand its wireless network in B.C. along Highway 16 and Highway 14. The project will close existing gaps in wireless coverage and should help make the route safer for travellers.

As it stands, there are coverage gaps where, if your car breaks down or if you run into other trouble, you may not have reliable coverage to call for help with your cellphone. Rogers calls the expansion a “need-to-have.”

Rogers, alongside its 5G partner, Ericsson, plans to build out 12 new cellular towers to close coverage gaps along Highway 16. Further, the new towers will provide additional coverage between Prince Rupert and Prince George. In total, Rogers says the project will add 252km of new highway cellular coverage and create continuous coverage along all 720km of Highway 16 through to Prince George.

On top of highway coverage, Rogers also plans to bring coverage to three provincial highway rest stops along Highway 16 at Boulder Creek, Basalt Creek and Sanderson Point. The carrier says work will begin in the spring of 2021 and expects the project to continue through to October 2022.

As for Highway 14, Rogers plans to build seven new towers to add coverage along the route from Sooke to Port Renfrew, along with a Wi-Fi Hotspot at the Sombrio Rest Area. Construction will start in the spring and is expected to wrap up by October 2021.

Rogers notes that these expansions are made possible by financial support from the provincially funded ‘Connecting British Columbia’ program, as well as the Government of Canada’s Universal Broadband Fund. For the Highway 16 project, the programs will fund $4.5 million of the total $11.6 million cost. The Connecting British Columbia fund will provide Rogers with $4.9 million for the Highway 14 project, although the total cost of that project was not disclosed.

Finally, Rogers noted in its press release that it’s “excited” about its plans in Western Canada thanks to the proposed acquisition of Shaw Communications. Rogers says the acquisition will allow it to invest $6.5 billion to build 5G networks, connect underserved rural and Indigenous communities and “bring added choice to customers and businesses.”

However, industry experts have testified that the proposed merger would decrease competition and increase costs for Canadians, who already pay some of the highest wireless prices in the world. The acquisition is still subject to approval, and Canada’s Competition Bureau pledged to conduct a “thorough” review of the deal.