SaskTel addresses border coverage with new towers
April 7, 2021, 8:24 am
Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Issues surrounding coverage near the Manitoba border is a concern that Saskatchewan residents have voiced and a concern that SaskTel is aware of.
SaskTel announced last week that it has launched a total of 28 new macro cell towers to help provide 4G LTE coverage across Saskatchewan, including one in Fairlight where concerns about border coverage have been noted.
While residents near the Manitoba border have expressed concern about the lack of coverage, Greg Jacobs, External Communications Manager with SaskTel, says the new towers should help fill in any gaps in coverage.
He notes that the macro tower in Fairlight will help bridge one of those gaps.
“It certainly will help specifically related to the area immediately around Fairlight. If we were to look at our wireless coverage map there is a bit of a gap in coverage from around Wawota on Highway 48 until you get to Fairlight. So this new tower will really help to strengthen coverage in that area,” Jacobs said.
He explains that ideally, the 4G tower in Fairlight will provide service in a 15 to 20 kilometre radius which Jacobs notes should provide coverage to the Manitoba border.
“Coverage really depends on a number of factors. The topographical make of the area is important and things like that. Generally speaking a macro tower like the one we’re setting up or ones that went into service like in Fairlight would have a serving radius of around 15 to 20 kilometers, depending on certain factors.”
Jacobs says that these towers are being established as part of the Wireless Saskatchewan Initiative, an initiative established in September of 2020 that SaskTel has invested $70 million into alongside the Saskatchewan government.
He notes that they are nearing the end of the program.
“The towers that we announced are part of a larger program called the Wireless Saskatchewan Initiative, which really is a joint initiative between SaskTel and the Government of Saskatchewan to really improve wireless connectivity throughout the province. Through that, we’ve identified gaps in our network throughout the province and to date have installed around 150 towers in rural areas to close those gaps.
“We’re in the final stage of that program and we have about 20 more towers we are planning to put into service by early summer.”
In the current stage of the program, once the remaining 20 towers are established the program will be completed.
“As part of the Wireless Saskatchewan Initiative we are in that final stage and those last 20 towers will be the end of that program as it’s currently formulated.”
But even when the program is finished, Jacobs says that SaskTel will continue to make efforts to improve service across Saskatchewan.
“We’re always evaluating opportunities to improve the services we offer to our customers so as Wireless Saskatchewan comes to an end, it doesn’t mean that we are going to brush our hands off and say our jobs done and we no longer have to continue this anymore. We will continue to evaluate opportunities for us to expand the network. So really what the Wireless Saskatchewan Initiative did was help us plug up larger gaps in our network so that we have really strong coverage across the province.
“Moving forward, I can’t say exactly where new towers might go but we will look to close any other gaps that might remain.”