Mobile coverage concerns

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 (, which basically acts as a mobile booster and can boost one bar of coverage up to four or five bars within the home.”

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I would...

Posted on 07-05-2016 16:28 | By GreertonBoy

rather suffer the indignity [sarcasm] of having to get a landline and live in a country or outskirts area than have excellent reception and live in a city or large town... If you cant see what is happening on farcebook or insta-groan every 10 seconds... it might be good for your health? Does anyone actually realise that the human being can actually survive, live and procreate without cell coverage? Yes, it is true... people actually did manage to survive before cell phones? I know... amazing!! lol

@ Kenworthlogger

Posted on 21-04-2016 14:38 | By Crash test dummies

First world ... at a gold plated price, the gap is breathtaking.

Cell signal

Posted on 21-04-2016 13:15 | By lpm67

Spark has the best coverage in Tauranga while avoiding peak drops offs, voda is useless here. Also try Telegistics for affordable boosters for fringe and rural areas. I read somewhere that Spark are trialling a new cell signal sustem for rural areas that will improve things in the future.

Cell reception

Posted on 20-04-2016 21:44 | By Kenworthlogger

Its a first world problem.....

jed from penguin

Posted on 20-04-2016 10:26 | By penguin

Well said. You have actually agreed with my statement about ’negotiating’ with Telco


Posted on 19-04-2016 18:21 | By Mikehunt

Just checked VodafoneNZ RBI planned coverage and it looks like improved mobile coverage is coming and search ’ Whakamarama ’ and then click on planned

Mobile coverage

Posted on 19-04-2016 14:42 | By Mikehunt

Mobile coverage is covered under terms and conditions of the the mobile carriers, Vodafone Sure Signal is a fantastic product these people that expect 100% mobile coverage are living with their head in the sand, If you sign a contract and live in low / poor coverage that is your issue you should not have signed the contract, The carriers have coverage maps that reflect outdoor coverage

Penguin: here is what you should do

Posted on 19-04-2016 10:51 | By jed

I know it sucks to be in your situation but it is not going to be resolved in the short term. I would go to spark and waive the early termination fee on the basis you do not get signal at your house. If spark refuse, lodge a complaint with the telecom dispute resolution service, they are very good (and free). Then, port your number across to vodafone and buy their $200 signal booster if necessary. But you need broadband with VF too. I know it is annoying but nothings perfect.

Jed's moment

Posted on 18-04-2016 17:50 | By penguin

I believe it is you who is being impractical. Try thinking laterally - yes terms could be negotiated with Telco’s if enough pressure was brought to bear. According to you, customers should simply change provider. WOW - so they then get stung for a ’broken contract fee’ to boot!

Impractical ideas!!

Posted on 18-04-2016 13:53 | By jed

If you don’t like the coverage then terminate your contract. You cannot seriously expect spark/VF etc to negotiate price plans based on residential premise signal strength-the logistics are too complex.As for "sage", vodafone are offering you the ’sure signal’ service-This is a mini cell site device installed in your house that connects to the vodafone network via your fixed line/UFB internet connection.But,you need vodafone internet.It is not a conspiracy to make you join vodafone.

Jed misses the point

Posted on 18-04-2016 11:45 | By The Sage

Well if Vodafone have told me they will guarantee cell phone coverage if I switch my landline to them they are playing games. What is that about? I cannot be in a RF shadow zone if that’s the case. Vodafone aren’ t exactly a failing business. Plenty of money for advertising and trying to attract new customers. How about looking after the customers they have?


Posted on 18-04-2016 11:17 | By penguin

It is accepted that cell phones use radio waves (and we know of the issues related to those).Then the Telco

What do people expect?

Posted on 18-04-2016 09:50 | By jed

Radio frequency physics dictates that cell signals do not propagate evenly across the landscape. Land topology, man made structures, and trees do cause dead spots. It is impossible to cover all dead spots without tripling the plan prices. The company that does so will go bust as subscribers in high density areas will not appreciate subsidising the minority in black spots. Being in a heavily populated area is irrelevant. You may be in an RF shadow zone.


Posted on 18-04-2016 08:32 | By Capt_Kaveman

Got it wrong towers built close to each other how dumb, end of Papamoa is another place


Posted on 17-04-2016 20:11 | By My Bit

Their coverage is rubbish in a few areas it is bloody hopeless in parts of Bethlehem and they apparently have a tower there somewhere

No Vodafone at our house

Posted on 17-04-2016 19:34 | By Andrew B

There has never been any usable Vodafone coverage at our house in Matua. Why should we pay them for something to get signal if they don’t want to invest in equipment to sort this out. Spark has.

Lack of any spark...

Posted on 17-04-2016 15:51 | By penguin


Certain parts of Matua have poor coverage

Posted on 17-04-2016 14:31 | By The Sage

I am with Vodafone and have a dreadful reception at my house in Matua. My phone doesn’t get a signal downstairs and I have to go upstairs to use it. Vodafone have told me if I had my landline with them they would guarantee cell phone coverage. Why should I have to do that? We are in a heavily populated area well within the city limits. There are several cell phone towers nearby and it seems crazy.

I agree!

Posted on 17-04-2016 13:43 | By RASM

Very sketchy/non-existent where we are in the beginning of rural Ohauiti.

Vodafone Sure Signal

Posted on 17-04-2016 13:42 | By Mikehunt

Vodafone New Zealand offers Sure Signal which is far cheaper over the Spark and 2Degrees option, The Sure Signal unit is actually a femtocell and requires Vodafone broadband to plug the Sure Signal unit into

Yeah Right

Posted on 17-04-2016 13:38 | By astex

Looks like the booster at starts at about $1000 and is only for spark and 2 degrees. Not much of an option for the average Joe.

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