People with weak cellphone signals in Surrey may soon find themselves sidling up beside city lamp standards to get a better connection.
The City of Surrey is beginning a pilot project with the five cell providers (Rogers, Telus, Bell, Mobilicity and Wind) to use street lights for mini cell towers.
On Monday, Surrey council endorsed a city staff plan to begin a year-long pilot project renting street lights to cellphone companies that want to install wireless transmission equipment.
The first out of the gate is Mobilicity, which will be installing equipment on a light standard at 84 Avenue and 152 Street.
The rental cost to the company will be $8,000 a year, along with a one-time application fee of $1,200.
“The carriers would consider the use of up to 170 street light poles at various locations throughout the city over the next three years, which would provide a strong and sustainable revenue stream,” a corporate report to council states.
In fact, if all those 170 street poles were rented, Surrey would receive $1.36 million annually, equivalent to more than a one-per-cent tax increase.
Shaun Grefford, Surrey’s general manager of investment and intergovernmental relations said the city has been looking at developing a new wireless protocol for some time.
The pilot project, he said, presents some promising opportunities.
“The technology has changed, you can have smaller sites,” Grefford said. “The benefit of that is there’s less of a signal boost that has to go out.”
The first new street light will be up at 84 Avenue and 152 Street in the coming weeks.