In the old cellphone ads people used to climb on top of cars, or walked around waving phones in the air at arm’s length looking for a signal. Well, it’s still happening in Tauranga.
Cellphone coverage for people on the outskirts of Tauranga is a lottery. Coverage is patchy, and often non-existent.
Where’s my signal, wonders Whakamarama resident Cayla-Fay Saunders. Photo: Bruce Barnard.
Haeg Pettersen, a director at GlobalComms in Tauranga, says he cannot hold a phone conversation in his Ohauiti lounge.
“I have to be on the deck,” says Haeg. “Remember the old TV ad about standing on top of the caravan? That’s me standing on my deck.
“We’ve complained on numerous occasions. They [the Telcos] are happy to take your money, but they are not happy to improve the service – and the service isn’t good.”
The office at Mount Maunganui also suffers, says Haeg.
“We’ll be able to get calls and sometimes we won’t. It will say we have a signal, then we won’t; and we will pop in and pop out of the 4G network like changing our underwear.”
At Whakamarama coverage is so temperamental you have to breathe the right way, says resident Cayla-Fay Saunders.
“For some reason there’s one spot at the dining table that has the best reception in the house. The whole family rotates around it, trying to get cellphone coverage.”
It can take up to 10 minutes to send a single text, says Cayla.
Evan Riggir, a Spark customer living in the Oropi/Pyes Pa area, says his mobile services are rapidly going from bad to worse and are almost unworkable at times.
“The phone will be indicating good coverage, and you get a text notification that you have missed a call from a number – yet your device never rang,” says Evan.
“We are also not able to ring out at times, cannot send a text message and cannot make phone calls. “We are also experiencing call quality issues due to the phone connection being bounced from tower to tower due to load as people are driving around the region, as well as the inevitable call dropping.”
Spark’s mobile network covers well over 90 per cent of the New Zealand population, says Spark communication assistant Lydia Tebbutt.
While Spark takes population growth into account, other factors are availability and accessibility of appropriate sites, access to power and telecommunications infrastructure, and economic viability.
“Cells sites typically cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to build, which makes providing coverage in some areas economically challenging,” says Lydia.
“While we’d love to provide great mobile coverage for the whole country, and we do consider all available options, it’s not always possible.
“It might also be worth mentioning that those who currently get just one bar of mobile coverage in their home can look into the option of getting a cel-fi mobile repeater (cel-fi.co.nz), which basically acts as a mobile booster and can boost one bar of coverage up to four or five bars within the home.”