Telus explains Hedley cell tower decision

I would like to clarify what is happening with our proposed wireless site in Hedley, following recent coverage and commentary in this paper.

To the Editor,

I would like to clarify what is happening with our proposed wireless site in Hedley, following recent coverage and commentary in this newspaper.

In 2011 we were approached by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen with a request to expand wireless service to the community.  It’s always challenging to make the economics work for small communities such as Hedley but we took on the challenge and found a way to make it work. If we install the wireless antennas and equipment at our existing office in town we would be able to provide service with an investment of about $400,000 – a significant investment to be sure, and one we are happy to make to provide local wireless service.

Last fall, we notified all Hedley residents of our plans and hosted a public meeting to answer questions from community members.  All was going well, so we put the project on our 2013 construction schedule and allocated the funds and man-power needed.

Several weeks ago, we were notified by the regional district that some residents were having second thoughts about the location of the antenna and would like to see it be moved to another location in the town. We looked at the option. Unfortunately, locating the antenna at this alternate site would significantly increase the investment required and it would no longer be feasible.

Contrary to some recent comments in the media, Telus is not receiving any funding from the provincial government to help expand service to small communities. We’re doing it at our own expense.

Moving the location of the antenna would also require time-consuming redesign of the network infrastructure as well as repeating the entire public notification and consultation process.  It became clear to us that it was no longer possible to complete the Hedley project in the 2013 construction season so we made the difficult decision to reallocate the resources to other projects that are ready to go now.

We understand that wireless service is a priority for many members of the community so we will do our best to revisit wireless service opportunities for Hedley in the future.

Jim Johannsson

Telus, Director Public Consultation