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30 rural Sask. communities slated to get upgraded cell towers: SaskTel

SaskTel says demand for internet and voice services has gone up because so many people are working from home.
SaskTel says demand for internet and voice services has gone up because so many people are working from home. File / Global News

Thirty rural communities in Saskatchewan are getting upgrades to their cell towers for improved wireless connectivity and service.

SaskTel announced that it is investing around $10 million to install Samsung Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment and significantly improve 4G LTE data capacity in rural areas.

The current towers offer 4G LTE service which will continue but the company is increasing the ability of the towers to handle more traffic.

“We continue to see our customers using more and more data for whatever services they are using, whether it’s streaming a video or having a face time call. Over time, those usage patterns have increased quite significantly,” said Greg Jacobs, external communications manager at SaskTel.

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“So in order to keep up with that usage and our customers needs today and in the future, we have to add capacity to the towers, which is what we’re doing.”

He gave the example of how a road in a city only has so much capacity for a specific number of vehicles that can travel at a time. “Think of it this way, that we’re adding lanes to the highway so that more cars, more traffic can go through the tower at a time without creating traffic jams or congestion,” he said.

Some of the rural communities that will be getting the upgrades are Big River First Nation, Oxbow, Rabbit Lake, Shellbrook, Warmley, Baildon, Blaine Lake, Crooked River, Glaslynm, Willow Bunch, Witchekan Lake, Kipabiskau Regional Park, Canwood, Norquay, Quill Lake, Ituna, Nekaneet Cree Nation,  Choiceland and Lake Alma, Leader.

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Jacobs said that they have started work on some of the towers already and anticipate the majority of upgrades will be done by end of March. He added that difficult weather and supply chain issues may impact their ability to deliver.

“In addition to enhancing the wireless experience that our customers receive today, these upgrades will lay the foundation for the deployment of 5G in the future as we continue our work to bring the next generation in wireless technology to our customers across the province,” Doug Burnett, SaskTel President and CEO said in the press release.

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