New Rogers tower planned in Fergus

ELORA – A new telecommunications tower is likely coming to Fergus.

The Rogers Communications tower would be located at 695 St. David Street North, at the corner of Black and St. David Streets.

Council offered municipal concurrence on July 29, meaning council agrees procedural guidelines set by the federal government were followed.

Rogers site acquisition specialist Jeff McKay said the new tower would help to cover a deficiency Rogers identified in the north end of Fergus.

He explained telecommunications is identified by the federal government as important for social and economic development and the preservation of health and safety.

“In order to ensure timely and ordered development in this essential service the jurisdiction and approval for siting is invested strictly with the federal government,” McKay said.

He noted “95 per cent or better of all emergency calls” involving life threatening events are made on mobile networks.

“These are calls where minutes make the difference between life or death and not having the necessary infrastructure to allow this is the reason this falls under federal mandate … for the general good of all citizens.”

McKay added more communications towers are needed to accommodate future autonomous cars and, as technology advances, transmitters need to be closer together to handle increased bandwidth.

Analogue technology could reach subscribers who were more than 10-kilometres away, whereas currently many users are connecting to a transmitter that is less than 90m away.

“An emergency call regarding a stroke, accident, heart attack, is routed by mobile through a facility within a couple hundred metres now,” McKay said.

“An economic and technical liability of these new sites depends critically on analysis and correction that covers deficiency so the facilities are doing what they need to do.

“As the telecommunication network providers have matured over the last 35 years, they now must focus on densification of these networks to bring the towers much closer to the addressed subscriber base.”

McKay said there were no comments received during the public consultation period.

The tower will be a 30-metre monopole, explained Brett Salmon, managing director of planning and development for the township.

“It just sticks up like a great big light standard,” he explained. “There’s signage and hydro towers and things already so … it’s fairly discrete and that probably explains why we didn’t have any comments.”

Councillor Stephen Kitras asked whether the tower could be used for 5G when it is available.

McKay said 5G speeds are 1,000 to 10,000 times faster than speeds available now, so it needs a smaller coverage area than that covered by the tower. However, he also said 5G requires lower transmitters so if it does come to Fergus, a transmitter could be attached to a lower section of the new tower, about 10 to 15m from the ground.

The new 5G network, he said, will be good for getting through concrete walls in big cities like Toronto.

“Every 500 to 800 metres throughout the city is going to have 5G transmitters,” he explained.

In Centre Wellington 5G is not needed because there are not big concrete building areas. McKay said the 4G and LTE network would continue to work well.

Councillor Kirk McElwain said he’s nervous the 5G won’t be coming to Centre Wellington in the near future because his understanding was it’s needed for autonomous cars.

“I would think that it has to be deployed in small towns as much as it is in large towns because the same drivers are going to be involved,” he said.

McKay explained driverless vehicles use satellite technology.

“There’s also redundant systems for everything because if you’ve got anything that fails on a car then that’s just going to drive into something that it shouldn’t,” he said.

“So there’s redundant systems, all those kinds of things, those will all be controlled by satellite for the cars.”

Council voted in favour of concurrence, with only Kitras opposed.

This is the second tower this year to receive concurrence from Centre Wellington. In May a Signum Wireless cell phone tower on Pine Tree Pet Centre land south of Ennotville also received concurrence.