Cell phone reception in parts of Red Deer continues to be spotty at best — leading a local councillor to push ahead with his motion that it be considered an “essential service.”
Coun. Lawrence Lee made a notice of motion at a city council meeting last year, calling for councillors to intervene and help city residents get better cell phone service. Lee said part of this involves urging telecommunications providers to consider basic reception and internet an essential service.
“I believe in this day and age that our way of life necessitates things like high-speed Internet,” said Lee on Monday.
In January, Telus erected a new cell phone tower next to the Timberlands fire hall, which appears to have eased some of the reception problems in east-central Red Deer, including much of Clearview.
But complains of poor reception continue to be heard from some other areas of the city.
West Park resident Brad Giles feels nothing has changed in his neighbourhood, even though he’s talked to Telus reps and been publicly calling for better cell phone service.
Dropped calls and other problems have been an issue since he moved into his home on Wilkins Green in 2012. And “just the other day, my wife was struggling to talk to her doctor and was getting pretty pissed off,” said Giles. His family maintains a landline because of the poor cell phone reception.
Dave Sacha, a consultant who regularly does business on Red Deer, said he can’t talk to his clients when he’s in West Park or Eastview. The cell tower in Timberlands hasn’t done anything for these parts of the city, said Sacha, who would like telecommunications providers to finally resolve these issues.
“All of these people are paying for service that they aren’t getting.”
Last fall, Red Deer city council acted on Lee’s notice of motion and sent letters to service providers, on behalf of many Red Deerians who have complained of poor reception, asking the companies to address this issue.
Telus responded that the new tower would improve the situation, while Shaw responded that a partnership with Rogers to create a national connectivity provider would span the City of Red Deer and improve service.
Meanwhile, many city residents are still waiting to see any kind of positive change.
Lee believes there will be an opportunity to bring this matter up at the Alberta Municipalities meeting this fall. He also suggested members of city council should meet with these service providers and have follow up conversations to ask what else can be done?