Family and friends trying desperately to connect with loved ones living in and around Lytton are being hampered by the severing of all cellphone and landline service in the area.
A fire that destroyed 90 per cent of the community on June 30 has damaged key communication infrastructure in the area, including fibre lines, which means that landline service has been cut off. Two cell towers that provide service to the community have also been affected.
TELUS crews will not be able to assess the damage and begin restoring service until they get permission from emergency management officials.
“RCMP and first responders need to assess and make sure it’s safe before they let anyone into the area,” says Chelsey Rajzer, senior communicaions manager, public relations for TELUS.
In the meantime, TELUS has brought in additional equipment by helicopter. As of 6 p.m. on July 1, a cell tower on wheels (COW) was operational, and is providing temporary wireless coverage for emergency responders in Lytton, enabling crews to communicate as they work to restore cell coverage in the area.
TELUS has also deployed SmartHubs, satellite phones, hundreds of additional cell phones and charging cables, and comfort kits with necessities like toothbrushes and hand sanitizer to evacuees.
In order to help residents, TELUS has suspended all home service billing indefinitely, and is waiving all wireless overages throughout the month of July for those who have been evacuated. Credits and free overages will be applied automatically to customer accounts.