Port Clements’ mayor is signing his emails with a fireworks emoji today after Telus confirmed that it will offer full cellphone service in the village by early spring.
The company is building a 30-metre tower at 22 Park Street, just across from the Port Multiplex, that will provide 4G LTE wireless voice and data service to people in Port Clements and some surrounding areas.
“It’s going to be great for everybody, for business, for tourism,” said Mayor Urs Thomas.
“It’s another safety layer for the whole community.”
Speaking of safety, Thomas recalled how people came into the village office during Haida Gwaii’s latest tsunami evacuation in January to use the internet and tell off-island family members that they were okay.
“They needed internet access, and soon that’s not going to be a problem anymore — they can call out and let their families know they’re safe.”
It’s not yet clear how far the signal will carry from the new tower, but Thomas hopes it will extend well south of Port Clements along the flatter stretches of land towards Tlell. Given the amount of logging activity on and around Masset Inlet, he also hoped it would extend well across the water.
Finally getting cellphone coverage 12 years after it arrived elsewhere on Haida Gwaii should give Port Clements an easier time encouraging mid-island tourism, too.
“Tourists always come into the gas station or museum and ask, ‘Where can I get cell-phone service, or internet?’” Thomas said. “That’s going to be history.”
Speaking from the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Whistler, Thomas said the next step in upgrading the village’s telecommunications service is finding ways to affordably connect homes to the islands’ fibre-optic internet line, which runs underground along the Graham Island highway.