Vavenby gets cellphone service

Cell service began in Vavenby on Saturday morning, reports TNRD director Tim Pennell

A Telus cellphone tower on a bluff southeast of Vavenby went operational Saturday morning

A Telus cellphone tower on a bluff southeast of Vavenby went operational Saturday morning

TIMES STAFF

“Cell service is on in Vavenby!” reports Tim Pennell, Thompson-Nicola Regional District director for Wells Gray Country (Area A).

According to Pennell, the service was online Saturday morning, Feb. 11, and underwent some testing during the day.

“They must be using the existing power feed to the TV rebroadcast site (not sure on this as it could be a generator supply also) as the power line is not yet completed,” he observed. “The latest info I have says this should be done by the end of next week.

Pennell said he had a nice strong signal on his phone all the way from Clearwater to Vavenby, with just a couple minor lowering of strength locations.

“On the down side your phone must be 3G or better in order to work,” he added.

MLA Terry Lake commented that the new service is the result of the Connecting British Columbia Agreement signed by the provincial government and Telus last year.

“The focus is along the highways,” said Lake. “That’s where most residents are located plus there’s a safety factor for the traveling public. It’s something the people in the area have been requesting.”

Cost of the Vavenby cell tower was about $800,000, said the Kamloops-North Thompson MLA.

The tower provides 4G service, said Telus spokesperson Shawn Hall.

“It’s the latest generation wireless service,” he said.

Providing the service will benefit local residents directly plus make the area more attractive for tourists, he felt.

Hall noted that over half of all 911 emergency calls are now made using cellphones.

“This is an important project. This will save lives,” he said.

Telus announced Jan. 25 that it had invested $1 million in a new wireless site in Blue River to bring 4G wireless voice and high speed Internet services to community residents, businesses and motorists along sections of Highway 5 for the first time ever.