What happened to the cell service in Little Fort?

Sunday, Nov. 6, the residents of Little Fort started experiencing really poor cell service

To the editor;

Since Sunday, Nov. 6, the residents of Little Fort have been experiencing really poor cell service… or I guess one could say – not experiencing!  Service went down abruptly and has been more off than on for the past week.

Those who managed to find a landline, or who drove to Blackpool or Barriere to get a signal, called Telus or whoever their provider is to try to find out what was going on.

Turns out there was some sort of issue with the Telus cell tower located in Little Fort.

On Monday, Telus reps said they were working on it. On Tuesday, apparently a part had to be replaced. Wednesday – it should be up soon.  Thursday – should be fixed by sometime on Friday (no time given, just “sometime”) And as of Monday, Nov. 14, there were still issues.

Sunday started with a connection, then a brief outage in the morning… then good service till about 4:35 p.m. when it went down for half an hour, popped on for about three minutes, and then back off for another half an hour.  Better than the last seven days when each day it might be on for maybe three to four hours out of 24, but still not great, and definitely not “back to normal”.

I can see it taking two or three days for an issue to be fixed, particularly if a part has to be brought in from somewhere, but eight days?

This has been extremely frustrating for the residents, especially for those who only have a cell phone.

Several people have stated that they plan to demand a reduction on their next bill.  “But it’s not so much the money, it’s the safety factor,” many residents have agreed.

And they’re right – if you only have a cell, live alone, no close neighbours, and have medical issues – what happens if there’s a problem?

Or, like some of the people who work at Jim’s Food Market, who drive in from Clearwater or Barriere, what if you have car trouble just outside of town?

What if your job depends on receiving calls from customers – and now they can’t reach you?

One Little Fort resident stated that in one of the brief moments when the service came back on after being down several hours, he received four texts for jobs that had been sent earlier in the day, but now it was too late in the day and the customers had already made other arrangements because they couldn’t reach him.

At Jim’s Food Market, the store lost a lot of potential sales for lottery tickets, as the lottery machines use the cell for their connection.

Modern cars are computerized and when you have them serviced, the garage reads the info from the computer and it tells them what issues it has (if any) and what needs to be dealt with.

Why on earth can’t something similar be done to a cell tower?  Then, all a technician would have to do is go to the tower, check the computer, which would then tell them where the problem was.  If they DO have something like that – then why has it taken so long to fix? And is it really fixed? It still was down twice on Sunday, and down again on Monday.

We’ll have to wait and see how it goes on Tuesday, I guess.

Just be aware that if you’re trying to reach someone in Little Fort on their cell…. your call might not get through!

Margaret Houben

Barriere, B.C.