TELUS is building a new cellphone tower in northeast Red Deer to improve coverage.
“Over the last few years, local demand for wireless services has rapidly increased in Red Deer,” said a TELUS spokesperson. “In order to meet these current capacity demands, we are enhancing our network by building a new cell tower in the northeast area of the city this year.
“This new site is anticipated to be up and running by the end of this year, and will ensure we continue to meet the growing demand for connectivity throughout the community for years to come,” said the company.
“TELUS is also in the early planning stages of seeking agreements with landowners and businesses in the area to build three more cell towers, which will further enhance wireless service throughout the community.”
Red Deer residents have complained of poor coverage in parts of the city for years. Clearview, Clearview Ridge, Garden Heights, Rosedale and Deer Park are among the neighbourhoods where calls are dropped most often or reception is poor.
The problem does not appear to be limited to a specific service provider. A Red Deer Advocate carrier supervisor said carriers use a number of different providers and all experience the same issues, particularly during daily peak business hours.
The same problems do not occur late at night or early in the morning.
Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston said the city had heard a number of complaints from residents over the years and staff had been in contact with providers.
Johnston said the issue was a concern because so many people depend on reliable communication links. The need for good connections was especially highlighted during the pandemic when many people worked from home or the children had to go to online learning.
Issues have been ongoing for years. An online petition was started by a Clearview Ridge resident a number of years ago on change.org. The petition organizer last updated it two years ago when more than 500 people had signed in support of better cellphone coverage.
The petition organizer wrote in his introduction that “after over eight years in the area, we have found that we can no longer make calls from our basement and even our top floor during the commuting hours.
“With both my wife and I working from home this can tend to be less of an inconvenience and more of a detriment to our jobs. We also have heard similar frustrations from our neighbors in person and via social media.
“With smartphones phasing out landlines, more people working at home, and a general increased dependency in the technology it is prudent that something be done.”
Disgruntled cellphone users have also taken to social media to voice their frustration. A Reddit post about poor service in Clearview and Timberlands drew a string of comments from others commiserating about their coverage issues.