Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut May 02, 2014 - 5:11 pm

Bell Mobility customers in Rankin struggle with delays, poor cell service

“I bought it thinking, awesome, we’ll have faster cell service, only to find out that it doesn’t work"

SARAH ROGERS
A Bell Mobility customer tries out his new iPhone last month in Cambridge Bay, which along with Rankin Inlet, recently saw the launch of 4G cellular service. (PHOTO BY DENISE LEBLEU IMAGES)
A Bell Mobility customer tries out his new iPhone last month in Cambridge Bay, which along with Rankin Inlet, recently saw the launch of 4G cellular service. (PHOTO BY DENISE LEBLEU IMAGES)

Bobby Oolooyuk was looking forward to replacing his old cell phone with a new generation smartphone.

So when Bell Mobility announced earlier this year it was upgrading the cellular network in his home community of Rankin Inlet, Oolooyuk invested in a new phone linked to a new Bell Mobility plan with unlimited texting and free evening calls.

That was late March. A month later, he said, he struggles with his new phone.

“On a daily basis, there are delays — messages don’t get sent and calls don’t get through,” Oolooyuk said. “I bought it thinking ‘Awesome,’ we’ll have faster cell service, only to find out that it doesn’t work.”

“It’s frustrating.”

A post on a Rankin Inlet Facebook page shows that frustration felt throughout the community.

One commenter said she’s already returned her new smartphones because of poor service; another says Bell Mobility should offer discounts to its Nunavut customers until service improves.

Oolooyuk made a complaint to Bell Mobility, but said he’s not optimistic that service will improve because of it.

“I signed a contract for service,” he said. “I did my part – I’m paying for the service. They should at least notify their customers that things aren’t working 100 per cent for now.”

“If it stays like this, I’ll probably cancel it,” he added.

Bell Mobility, which is finalizing the process of taking over wireless services across Nunavut from Northwestel, is already present in the community.

A new tower has gone up, Oolooyuk said, while Bell Mobility is using the local co-op store as its cell phone retailer.

Three Nunavut communities had been slated for 4G service in 2014, including Rankin Inlet, Cambridge Bay and Iqaluit.

That’s part of Bell Mobility’s $233 million modernization plan for the north, which promises to deliver long term evolution (LTE) technology to the territories this year.

When the 4G network upgrades happened in Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay earlier this year, Bell Mobility said it did extensive testing ahead of time — much like the company is doing this week in Iqaluit.

“However, it’s not unusual for customers using 4G wireless broadband service in Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet to have experienced minor service interruptions as we optimize the network and continue to roll out services in the region,” said Bell spokeswoman Jacqueline Michelis in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

The plan to upgrade service from 3G to 4G in those three Nunavut communities where all telecommunications are carried by satellite, is also a new innovation, the company noted.

In Iqaluit, where Ice Wireless already offers 3G cellular service, Bell Mobility said its 4G network should be up and running by the fall of 2014.

With the completion of the transfer from Northwestel, Bell Mobility will provide cellphone service to nine communities in Nunavut.

The company has also committed to provide cell phone service Nunavut’s 16 other communities.

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