Cowichan Valley identifies gaps in cellular, internet service

Cowichan Valley identifies gaps in cellular, internet service
George Dolgikh/pexels

The Cowichan Valley Regional District has identified gaps in cellular and internet service in the region, and has put forward recommendations to improve coverage.

The project to look into the issue started research, analysis, education, and engagement in 2022.

“Connectivity is an essential service that allows us not only to communicate, but to work, learn and access services online,” said Barry O’Riordan, manager of economic development Cowichan. “This strategy helps us better understand the state of internet and cell phone connectivity in the region so we can work to improve access for all residents and businesses.”

The project put forward 28 recommendations in five different areas: advocate and facilitate; affordability, digital literacy, and access to technology; infrastructure; local government policy; and cellular coverage.

The group working on the project worked with the goal of having affordable connectivity in place for residents and businesses in the region that enhances livability.

The report found that 96 per cent of the community meets the federal speed target of 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload for broadband service, with four per cent being underserved.

For cellular service, the report notes there is a difference between the maps available by cell providers of the availability and the reality of what is available.

“Cellular services are available across most of the populated region along the eastern coastline from Telus, Rogers, Shaw, Bell, and Freedom Mobile, but rugged terrain to the west inhibits radio frequency propagation, limiting the coverage of commercially available service providers,” the report says. “This is evidenced by published coverage maps from the major cellular providers.”

The example given is that Telus identifies Penelakut Island as having coverage across the whole Island, but public consultation identified a lack of coverage on the east coast.

Thetis Island and Penelakut Island, Ditidaht First Nation, Cowichan Station, and Cowichan Lake Area have been identified as areas of priority to address.

RELATED FROM 2021: Better internet connectivity coming to rural and remote BC coastal communities

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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