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Red Deer’s cell phone reception problems persist into 2023, says West Park resident

Brad Giles has to stand on his deck to make calls
A new Telus cell phone tower now stands in east-central Red Deer, next to the Timberlands firehall. But the City of Red Deer doesn’t yet know if it is operational. (File photo by The Canadian Press)

Promises of better cell phone reception in the New Year aren’t panning out yet for Red Deer resident Brad Giles.

Four days into 2023, the West Park resident said he’s still subjected to dropped calls and other phone problems, which have persisted since he moved into his Wilkins Green home in 2012.

“For the longest time I thought it was something to do with our house,” said Giles. But after speaking to many neighbours with similar issues, he now knows otherwise.

“It’s gotten no worse and no better in 10 years,” said Giles.

He feels it’s unfair that he’s been paying “just as much as anyone else” for cell phone service that requires him to stand out on his deck to make calls.

“I have to watch where I’m standing in the house” or the line suddenly cuts out, added Giles, who still also pays for a back-up landline.

His telecommunications provider, Telus, had promised Red Deerians better reception by the end of 2022, when a new cell phone tower is erected in east-central Red Deer, near St. Joseph High School.

The new cell phone tower now stands on land leased from the City of Red Deer, next to the Timberlands fire station. “Just before Christmas, the final piece of the tower was installed,” confirmed Wade Martens, land co-ordinator for the city — but he doesn’t yet know whether the tower is operational.

Telus spokesperson Lena Chen said on Wednesday last month’s frigid temperatures and icy conditions “slightly delayed our crews ability to complete construction, however, construction is now finished and we anticipate the site will be live and providing service by the end of January.”

Once the tower is up and running, Chen said it will enhance cellular coverage to customers in the Timberland area, “and will help us continue to meet the growing demand for connectivity throughout the region for years to come.”

As for residents of West Park, Chen said Telus is currently exploring options to enhance connectivity throughout the region “and we will be in touch if we have concrete plans to share with West Park residents in future.”

Giles said he had previously spoken to a Telus representative who made him feel the issue would be resolved. “I gave up a year ago because I was getting nowhere, and I have a temper,” said Giles, who is tired of the situation.

Whenever he or his wife have to arrange to pick up their son at St. Joseph High School in Timberlands. Giles said, again, there is spotty or no reception.

In September, city council sent a letter to the cell phone service providers, on behalf of many Red Deer residents who have complained of poor reception, asking the companies to address this issue.

Telus responded 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, Giles and his neighbours are still waiting to see any kind of positive change.

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