BARRHEAD - In recent weeks, Town of Barrhead Coun. Ty Assaf says he has noticed a significant drop in the reliability of cellphone service in the town, and he wants to know why.
That’s why he asked administration during the Sept. 13 council meeting (and the council agreed) to query TELUS on why it is happening and more importantly, what the company plans to do about it.
"Calls around town are dropping like crazy. You can have a conversation on a landline with someone on a cellphone, and either the call will drop outright, or you will only be able to hear every second syllable," Assaf said.
Recently, a resident told Assaf about an experiment he conducted by calling a relative in Golden Crest Manor while he was standing just outside the person's window.
"He was actually looking at his 91-year-old father, and yet they still couldn't hear each other," he said.
Assaf noted this disruption comes at a time when the local cellphone system is under additional strain due to the influx of additional traffic from hundreds of workers and contractors in the area working on the Benedict Pipeline expansion project.
Assaf said he reached out to a friend in the communications industry and he was told the problem was due to an issue with a TELUS communications tower west of the municipality that "hasn't been working at its full capacity since 2013."
The same friend reached out to the telecom company to report the issue and was reportedly told that they could not do anything as their self-diagnostic software said there was no issue.
Assaf added TELUS told his friend that a potential solution to anyone experiencing any of the previously mentioned issues was to check their cellphone's settings and select the Wi-Fi calling feature.
"Landline phones are slowly transitioning to VOIP, which uses the Internet to place the telephone calls," he said. "I am disgusted by that answer if it is true. I am paying for cellular service — yet I am being told that to solve the problem, I need to use an Internet service — a service that is being paid for by a commercial building."
Assaf suggested that administration reach out to TELUS regional general manager Brian Bettis, who has visited council multiple times, to learn what the real problem is and what can be done to rectify it.
"If the system can't handle the 1,000 extra users (from the Benedict Pipeline expansion project), what will happen when the town and county's population grows?" he asked.
The Barrhead Leader contacted TELUS to ask them about the issue.
In an e-mail, a TELUS spokesperson stated after receiving complaints from customers in the Barrhead area, technicians investigated and traced the problem to a piece of equipment that malfunctioned at one of their towers.
"Our crews are currently working to source the necessary parts to complete the repair, and we anticipate service will be fully restored by the end of next week," the spokesperson said.