District remains “on hold” for cell service

Rural areas without cell phone coverage

  • Jun. 29, 2011 7:00 p.m.

It was one year ago a story about communication upgrades for the Shirley district appeared in the Sooke News Mirror.

The work, specifically a cellphone tower, has yet to be done and therefore residents and travelers through the area continue to do without the convenience, affordability and security that a local cell tower would provide.

For many areas west of Sooke, cell phone call instigates expensive “roaming” fees as service may be obtained from towers across the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Washington State.

The lack of coverage becomes apparent fairly close to Sooke, as Arnie Campbell, president of the Otter Point Shirley Residents Ratepayers Association (OPSRRA) explained on June 18.

“You get on Otter Point Road to about Young Lake Road or Robinson Road and then you end up going on roam.”

This is a distance of about 10 km from Sooke.

“I can’t speak for all of Otter Point,” said Campbell, “but there certainly are areas to the north and west in Otter Point where you have to go on to the American system if you want to use your cell.”

The OPSRRA president said he had not heard of any change since last year’s word that upgrades could be forthcoming. Campbell also verified that the same frustrating situation with cell service basically exists in all of the Shirley district further west.

Said Telus spokesperson Shawn Hall on June 17 by email, “We are continuing to actively seek a location for a wireless site serving the Shirley area. Several residents have expressed interest in coverage in the area, with a particular interest in the enhanced access to emergency services wireless would provide.”

Noted in OPSRRA’s June newsletter are details of communication upgrades of another sort

“Shaw Cable Systems is now clearing trees along West Coast Road and it is anticipated that the Shaw Internet line, which presently ends in Otter Point, will be strung this summer and the Internet service will be available by December 2011.

“Note: TELUS also provides high speed Internet service into the eastern part of Shirley; up to and including Invermuir Road.”

Shaw Communications has declared its intention to enter the wireless phone market, but had not had any such presence in this area as of this writing.

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