Saskatchewan

SaskTel looks to expand cell coverage in rural areas, provincial parks

SaskTel is looking to expand its provincial LTE network. The Crown corporation announced Monday it plans to build 15 macro towers in areas that have little or no cell service.

Project totalling over $13.5M to be implemented by March

SaskTel is looking to enhance its LTE network by building 15 macro towers across the province. (Lauren Golosky/CBC)

SaskTel is looking to expand its provincial LTE network.

The Crown corporation announced Monday it plans to build 15 macro towers in areas that have little or no cell service.

The expansion means people may see improvements in being able to text and call on cellular devices, as well as improvements in streaming quality and speed. 

The project, worth over $13.5 million, includes towers in several rural communities such as Livelong — located an hour northwest of North Battleford — and Lorlie, which is just east of Fort Qu'Appelle.

Michelle Englot, director of external communications for SaskTel, said the tower additions were necessary to keep up with customer demand. 

This map shows SaskTel's current LTE coverage in Saskatchewan. (SaskTel/Google Maps )

"These expansions are looking at reaching more rural areas and provincial parks where the data capacity requirements are ever-increasing," said Englot. 

Englot said SaskTel is also looking at other resort communities to expand service to in the future, but wasn't able to pinpoint yet where those would be located. 

Two provincial parks to get new towers

Douglas and Danielson provincial parks are expected to be recipients of the new infrastructure.

Englot said SaskTel has installed towers in other provincial parks and is continuing to do that because it's seen high demand for LTE service in those areas. 

While some park-goers flock to provincial parks to get away from their cell phones and disconnect the world, Englot isn't concerned the easier access will disrupt traditional camping. 

A camper sits at a campsite in a Saskatchewan provincial park. SaskTel is building macro towers in Douglas and Danielson provincial parks to improve cell service. (Google Street View)

"If [customers] choose not to connect, it's certainly their choice," she said.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport said Tuesday that there are locations at some provincial parks where there is still limited-to-no service, including backcountry hiking trails, where people can completely disconnect.

But the ministry has heard from campers that they're happy to have the option to connect if they want to. 

The new towers are expected to be in service in all planned locations by March.  

A full list of the locations is available on the Government of Saskatchewan's website.

About the Author

Ethan Williams is a reporter with CBC News in Saskatchewan. Before joining the CBC in September 2019, he worked as a reporter for the Regina Leader-Post. Contact him: ethan.williams@cbc.ca

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