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Why cellular service was so poor after Fiona

Simply as Islanders contended with harm and energy outages within the days after post-tropical storm Fiona, many confronted one other frustration: poor mobile service.

On Tuesday, a authorities committee heard some explanation why.

Former Liberal premier Robert Ghiz, now head of the Canadian Wi-fi Telecommunications Affiliation that represents Bell, Eastlink and Rogers, mentioned after post-tropical storm Dorian in 2019, all three firms invested in additional backup mills for his or her towers.

However after Fiona, they bumped into issues getting gas to these mills resulting from downed timber and features blocking entry, and likewise due to the province-wide fuel provide points within the days after the storm.

“A part of the issue was, a number of days into the storm, it was unimaginable to get gas, so we had some members that have been out ready [in] lineups at fuel stations to get jerry cans to place diesel into the mills, in order that the cell towers can be working,” Ghiz mentioned.

Former Liberal premier Robert Ghiz, now head of the Canadian Wi-fi Telecommunications Affiliation, says crews had problem accessing cell towers due to downed timber from post-tropical storm Fiona. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

“That is why issues have been slowed down, and maybe unavailable for intervals of time.”

Ghiz mentioned securing gas for telecom firms must be extra of a precedence. 

He additionally acknowledged firms may’ve accomplished a greater job speaking with Islanders concerning the points they have been dealing with. 

After Dorion, an unbiased report advisable telecom firms be part of storm media briefings. 

The affiliation mentioned firms did inquire about taking part throughout Fiona, however have been advised by the province it wasn’t mandatory. 

“As we now have conferences with EMO and completely different companions after the storm, we have to discover a manner to make sure we are able to preserve cell towers working on mills for an extended time period,” mentioned Ghiz.

Communication with Islanders

Eric Smith, senior vice-president of the Canadian Wi-fi Telecommunications Affiliation, mentioned firms may have communicated higher with Islanders, to elucidate extra clearly what was resulting in service points and what was being accomplished to deal with them.

“I believe there’s room for each authorities and trade to do a greater job of training individuals on how they will put together themselves for these storms,” mentioned Smith.

“For instance, there are battery backup options on your cordless telephones, on your web modems, and so on., the place if the connectivity to your property nonetheless works — it isn’t as a result of a cable is down, you simply have a pure energy outage — you may nonetheless entry service.”

Inexperienced MLA Lynne Lund mentioned the shortage of telephone service was discomforting for individuals, and it is essential to work out the problems earlier than the following storm hits.

“Lots of people spoke of being scared, about not having the ability to get assist regardless of the very fact they have been residence with new child infants if one thing went flawed, or could not verify in family members who have been seniors … There was loads of concern round not having the ability to make contact with individuals.”

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