Telus Mobility on Tuesday embarked on a new project, which will bring wireless connectivity to a number of dispersed communities in the company’s birthplace, British Columbia.

Called the B.C. Heartland Expansion Initiative, the project will bring Telus’ digital PCS and 1X network to 10 B.C. communities this year, with an additional 10 to follow in 2004.

Kicking off the initiative Tuesday, Neil Cusati, Telus vice-president, British Columbia, announced that the company has completed part of the first phase of the rollout and has turned up coverage in five communities including Fraser Lake, Port McNeil, Barrier, Clearwater and Logan Lake. The additional five set for connectivity this year will be turned up in the fall.

“This is a significant step for our customers and wireless communication in British Columbia,” Cusati said. “This expansion initiative corresponds with the province’s mandate to bridge the digital divide and ensure that all British Columbians have access to the latest digital and networking technologies.”

The project, which will cost Telus approximately $20 million over the next two years, will enable such wireless capabilities as text messaging, voice and data transmission and high-speed wireless networking.

“We think we will go beyond the expectations in the markets that have not had wireless up until now,” said George Cope, president and CEO of Telus.

The communities receiving wireless coverage over the next two years span the geography of British Columbia and include Vancouver Island. Telus said it also plans to provide coverage to three new highway traffic corridors in B.C. during 2004 and 2005 as part of the Heartland Expansion Initiative.

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