Image supplied by the CVRD through Freedom Mobile.

Image supplied by the CVRD through Freedom Mobile.

Freedom Mobile proposes eight cell service sites in the Comox Valley

Comox Valley residents could eventually have a bit more “freedom” when it comes to choosing a cell service carrier.

Telecommunications carrier Freedom Mobile Inc. hopes to set up eight wireless cell service sites within the community.

Two representatives for the company formerly known as Wind Mobile presented a pitch for the sites at the Comox Valley Regional District’s Electoral Area Services Committee meeting on May 14.

The company wants to launch in the Comox Valley and other markets in B.C. “as soon as possible,” according to Chad Marlatt, who spoke on behalf of Freedom Mobile at the CVRD’s May 14 meeting. He said discussions with CVRD staff have been positive thus far.

“We’re hoping to launch as soon as possible in this market,” he said. “Sooner will be the Victoria market, and they’ll be expanding into other tier-two markets across B.C. as well.”

According to its website, Freedom Mobile’s home LTE networks are currently available in large Canadian cities, including Toronto, Hamilton, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa. The company has been pitching new cell service sites in smaller regions this year.

Of Freedom Mobile’s eight proposed Comox Valley sites, one would be in Area B, one southwest of Fanny Bay, one south of Cumberland, one off of Lake Trail Road, and four within Courtenay and Comox town limits.

(See above photo for the proposed locations).

Marlatt said Freedom Mobile — which is owned by Shaw Communications — intends to use existing infrastructure and cell service sites in the Valley as much as possible rather than build new towers. He explained the company’s intention of installing antennas on two of the CVRD’s water towers and setting up “colocations” on Rogers towers as well.

“Where possible, we’ll use existing infrastructure. There are instances where we’ll need to build our own infrastructure,” he told the committee.

The towers that do need to be built would be 40-metre tall “monopoles” and would be in secluded, wooded areas at least 300 metres away from nearby homes, said Marlatt.

Erica Rigik, Freedom Mobile’s western regional manager for real estate and municipal affairs, told the committee members on Monday the company’s goal is to be inconspicuous.

“It’s in our mutual interest to be as invisible as possible, although this kind of service and the kind of affordability our network offers… comes with incremental infrastructure,” she said.

At the meeting, Area A director Bruce Jolliffe said he was glad to see the company aiming to mainly use existing structures instead of building new ones.

“That’s what we prefer around here,” he said.

Area B director Rod Nichol echoed Jolliffe’s sentiments, though he cautioned the presenters about the need to consult with First Nations regarding the proposed site for a monopole at the Seal Bay RV Park.

In closing, Marlatt told the committee members that Freedom Mobile will next undergo a government-mandated public consultation process before reporting back to the CVRD at a later date.