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Telus boxes and wraps it’s DSL

September 15, 2013

In the upscale single-family neighbourhoods that I travel in, B.C.’s main telco, Telus has taken to covering their bland DSL cabinets with a printed 3M anti-graffiti ad-wrap. The wraps tend to be imaged to mimic the background, so that the cabinet doesn’t stick out like such a sore thumb.

Apparently the very fact the cabinets are decorated helps deter graffiti. And also the wrap is designed so that spray graffiti, and marker tags are easier to remove. Here are two examples:


This cabinet, from the Arbutus Ridge area, could stand as a definitive example of what Telus is trying to accomplish with ad-wraps. BTW, according to a sticker on the cabinet, the company that wrapped this is Clearvision Media.

This next one, from Kitsilano, doesn’t blend in—I’m betting it reproduces what’s behind the fence.

Telus is the phone provider across Western Canada. In 1999 it merged with the partially Verizon-owed BC Tel: British Columbia’s monopoly phone service provider.

These days the phone company offers Internet and the Internet companies offer phone service, but Telus is still a giant presence in both areas.

Beginning in 2007-2008 (I think), Telus started dropping featureless DSL cabinets all over the Vancouver, and, I guess, the rest of the province. I don’t recall any complaints in Vancouver, but similar roll-outs have been controversial in San Francisco, in 2008, and, again in 2011. The number one complaint being the cabinets are irresistible targets for tagging, and graffiti. From what I’ve seen, they fare much better than dumpsters, and BC Hydro street cabinets, but, yah, they get tagged.

By using the anti-graffiti wrap, Telus is following the lead of other telcos around the world.

Name that box

While writing this post—ostensibly on beautifying street furniture with printed 3M ad-wrap—I was struck by the difficultly of nailing down exactly what these darn Telus boxes were called.

I was certain they were all DSL boxes belonging to Telus, but that was all I was certain about. I found one unwrapped box, across the alley from Firehall Number 4, that bore a rare identifying label. Unfortunately, nothing on the label resulted in useful search results.



So I was left with the fact that it’s a DSL cabinet from 2008—other than that, I was SOL.

Basically, DSL—Digital Subscriber Line, means telephone, and Internet service over the same wires. “DSL” is pretty synonymous with ADSL—the “A” standing for Asymmetric, because the download speed (to the customer) is higher than the upload speed (to the provider). The cabinets are referred to by a lot of names: “RDAC”, or “SAC” (Street access Cabinet); switching cubicle; “SAI box” (Serving Area Interface), and “telco cans”, to list a few.

I read that the cabinets are full of things like DSLAMs, and crossconnects. Those will be like telephone switches (the way transistor radios are like iPods). Here’s a simple description of how  DSL works.


Whatever you want to call them, there are a lot of these cabinets scattered about—one-per-block in the densest part of Fairview, which is almost all apartments, and condos.

None of the Fairview cabinets have 3M ad-wrap. That seems reserved for the richer single-family neighbourhoods, but I haven’t gone into the lower income, single-family neighbourhoods on the East side of Main Street for a while—maybe their DSL cabinets also get beautifying wraps. Click the images to enlarge them.

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From → Fairview, Kitsilano

One Comment
  1. bnby_eclips permalink

    These are referred to as SAC Box (Serving Area Connector).

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