Connectivity coverage in B.C.

Last updated on February 6, 2024

While people in urban areas may have access to high-speed broadband and cellular connectivity, access to services in some rural, remote and Indigenous communities can still be a challenge.

On this page, you will learn about:

High-speed internet in B.C.

In 2017, the federal Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) set target speeds for high-speed internet of 50/10 Mbps. This is the target we aim for to ensure people can adequately connect to the internet.

It is estimated that 95.7 per cent of households in B.C. have access to target speeds of 50/10 Mbps. 74.2 per cent of households in rural B.C. and 77.2 per cent of First Nation households on reserves have access to the recommended internet speeds, leaving the remainder underserved.

Providing the same level of access to internet services across B.C. is a key priority for the Province. The government encourages the expansion of connectivity infrastructure for rural and Indigenous communities through funding programs like the Connecting Communities BC program. To find more information and an interactive map on projects funded, see our funded projects web page.

To see high-speed internet service availability in B.C. and across Canada, see the federal National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map.

Questions about internet speeds?

Not getting the internet speeds you think you should have? Find out how to make the most of your internet speed and what to do if your internet speed is slow.

Cellular in B.C.

Telecommunications, including cellular communications, are federally regulated in Canada through the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

The Government of British Columbia understands the importance of cellular coverage along highways, especially to improve public safety. Since 2017, the BC government has allocated $90 million in funding to support the expansion of cellular services. In addition, by investing in broadband projects, funding programs support the foundational infrastructure needed to provide both internet and cellular connectivity across the province.

What is the status of cellular connectivity in B.C.?

There are 15,000 km of primary, secondary, and major highways in B.C. As of August 2023, 4,200 km (28 per cent) do not have advanced cellular service, 3,100 km do not have access to commercial power, and 1,400 km have access to commercial power but no cellular service.

The Connecting British Columbia program initially provided funding for the expansion of cellular networks in B.C. $15 million has been allocated so far to improve cellular connectivity on highways. So far this has connected 532 highway kilometres and 30 rest areas, including 252 kilometres and two rest areas along Highway 16 – the Highway of Tears (as of August 2023).

In March 2023, the Province announced new funding to support the expansion of highway cellular services. This funding will be administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust, through the Connecting British Columbia program. Details are available through Northern Development Initiative Trust.

To find more information and an interactive map to discover cellular projects in your community funded by the Province, see our funded projects web page.

Why are there parts of the province without access to cellular reception?

B.C. has some of the most rugged and diverse terrain in Canada and our province is home to many difficult-to-service areas. One of the primary challenges to expanding cellular services is the availability of power. Cellular infrastructure requires power and in many remote areas and highways across B.C. there is no power available, making a challenging business case for cellular providers.  

Next Generation 911 funding

In March 2023, the Province announced a $150-million investment to fund upgrades to B.C.’s 911 emergency communications system, which is aging and increasingly incompatible with evolving technologies. The upgrades to Next Generation 911 will allow people the choice to contact 911 through new options, such as real-time text and caller location features.

E-Comm, which handles 99% of B.C.’s 911 call volume, is leading Next Generation 911’s implementation in most B.C. municipalities. The Province’s $150-million investment will help offset local governments’ costs for transitioning to Next Generation 911 and be divided into two parts:

  • $90 million will be provided to E-Comm for technological upgrades; and
  • $60 million will be provided to the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to defray costs, such as staffing, training and quality assurance.

For more details see the Province's news release.

How are telecommunications regulated?

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulates and supervises the telecommunications industry in Canada.

The Government of British Columbia cannot direct service providers where to make their investments rather, it works to leverage government’s investment in telecommunications services to encourage the expansion of internet services where there may not otherwise be a business case to do so.

Who can help me with my telecommunications service issue?

There are several organizations that you can reach out to if you are having issues with your telecommunications services:

What are the federal health and safety guidelines?

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians from environmental risks, including those posed by exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy - the kind of energy given off by various electronic devices such as cell phones and Wi-Fi, as well as broadcasting and cell phone towers through Safety Code 6.

What is Radio-Frequency (RF) energy?

Please see the federal government’s website on Radiofrequency (RF) Energy and Health for more information.

Where can I find more information on RF exposures from cell phones?

Health Canada has a guideline, known as Safety Code 6 (SC6), which recommends limits for safe human exposure to RF electromagnetic energy. 

Associated links

Discover services in your community

Find out available speeds and service providers in your area on the National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map.

Test your internet speed with CIRA:

CIRA Speed Test link