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Telus to tackle Willow Point cell coverage issues

There may be a fix in sight for Willow Point residents who complain of poor cell phone coverage in the area.

Telus told city council last week that Campbell River has been selected as a pilot community for new small cell technology that improves wireless coverage and capacity.

Telus representative  Michael Walsh said the technology, known as a micro site, will likely be deployed just north of Willow Point Park on already existing infrastructure, eliminating the need to build a new tower in the park – a proposal council opposed last summer.

“Council decided not to enter into an agreement with us to lease land for a macro site,” Walsh said. “One of the small cell clusters is to replace the proposal to build that tower.”

The cells, which are about the size of a thick laptop, will be placed strategically in various locations around the area.

Walsh said Telus is looking to solve coverage issues in Willow Point without having to build a new tower; residents scuttled Telus’ offer to build a tower last year with a 125-signature petition opposing the project.

“Telus is obviously interested in speaking with the city of Campbell River about an agreement to occupy space on the infrastructure you own,” Walsh said at the April 15 council meeting.

“Obviously there are many areas of Campbell River that have underground power and phones. If this is of interest to Campbell River, we would certainly be willing to discuss this with you.”

The small cell typically attaches to the traditional Telus timber poles and cell phone towers but can also be placed on the roof tops of buildings.

The cells are connected to fibre optics and transmit phone calls into a grid through the fibre.

Coun. Larry Samson, who last year opposed Telus’ proposal to put a cell phone tower in a community park asked Walsh whether the small cells meet Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 which regulate the amount of radio frequency waves that can be emitted without compromising human health.

“When we talk about RF (radio frequency) signals coming off it, is it less than what you’d see coming off a macro tower?” Samson wanted to know.

Walsh said yes, and that the small cells do meet Safety Code 6 standards.

“It is less than a macro tower,” Walsh said. “It covers a smaller geographical area so the power output is less.”

Telus said during its council presentation that it is planning to install the small cell technology in late May with the equipment going on-air in early July.

It’s expected to cover 50 locations inWillow Point.

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