By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Poor cellphone coverage in Picture Butte continues to be an issue brought forward by frustrated residents and business owners.
Council discussed the ongoing complaints from residents during the recent Oct. 23 council meeting.
Coun. Feist noted, “over the last few days, people have been asking me about the cellphone coverage in town and I keep telling them to talk to their provider. More towers are needed,” and added, “that’s all they can do.”
“It’s terrible all over town, people are just having issues with it all over.”
Mayor Moore said, “for the cell service, Rogers is supposed to be putting out one of those boosters.”
However the boosters are not slated for installation until 2024.
Eva Penner, President of the Picture Butte and District Chamber of Commerce, said it remains an ongoing concern for many business owners in Picture Butte area, and the nearby town of Nobleford.
“As a Chamber, we are here to advocate on behalf of our businesses and if there is no improvement in cell service, we could potentially be loosing businesses which will effect our local economy,” Penner said.
Penner said poor cell service has inevitable impacts on the commerce community, noting dropped calls, poor call quality, and a lack of reliable connectivity can, “hinder effective communication between employees, clients, and customers, leading to misunderstandings, delays, and frustration.”
She said, “poor cell service can be frustrating for employees who rely on their mobile devices for work-related tasks. It can lead to decreased morale, increased stress, and a negative work environment, ultimately affecting employee satisfaction and retention.”
According to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC), Communications Monitoring Report (2020), “99 per cent of Canadians have access to mobile services provided using various network technologies. However, the coverage availability by technologies (…) varied significantly among the provinces and the North.”
So, while “accessibility” is generally considered to be widespread across Canada, the availability of technologies and infrastructure allow for a great variance of service standards such as download and upload speeds and latency.
Penner said, “in today’s digital age, many businesses rely on mobile devices for various tasks such as email, accessing cloud-based applications, and conducting video conferences. Poor cell service can slow down these processes, resulting in decreased productivity and efficiency,” particularly for businesses which require the use of data-intensive applications and processes.
While this is can cause logistic and operational challenges, Penner also highlighted how connectivity shortfalls can greatly impact customer experience, the public perception of local businesses, and service standards.
“If a business consistently has poor cell service, it can create a negative perception among clients, who may view it as unreliable or unprofessional,” potentially causing damage to a business’s reputation and leading to lost revenues and missed opportunities.
When asked to what extent the current level of service with respect to mobile coverage currently impacts local businesses and/or customers, CAO Keith Davis said, “I have no knowledge regarding this.”
Davis told Sunny South News, “last year we reached out to Telus and did not get much response from them. I need to follow up with them to see if I can get more traction.”
Davis added he is, “currently working with Rogers who are looking at installing some cell boosters in a part of town hopefully by the end of year. This is currently in the planning stages and installation may be later than end of year. They are also installing the cell boosters in one part of town to see if it makes any difference across the board. If it doesn’t meet their requirements they may look at more installations later.”
Davis added, “we have told people to contact Telus or their provider to complain about their service. I’m pretty sure that’s what Telus told us last year when the Town complained to them. Ultimately, residents pay a service provider for their mobile coverage. If they are not happy with their service they should complain to their service provider. The Town will support and advocate for residents and verify from their own experiences that cell coverage is not good in town but we do not provide the service and can’t make decisions to improve it, that is up to the service providers.”