Solutions to improve your cell phone coverage
Sandra Hermiston & Lynda Steele, CTV British Columbia
Published Wednesday, March 13, 2013 6:00AM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 13, 2013 7:35PM PDT
Some B.C. residents still receive a weak or no signal on their phones despite telecom companies investing billions of dollars in cell phone towers, but there are things consumers can do to help improve their coverage.
Telus customer Steve Lee works from his home office but his iPhone 5 receives marginal to no coverage when he’s in his house. Telus insisted it was a problem with his phone and refused to let him out of his contract without paying a $450 penalty. But Telus admitted there was a coverage problem in his South Surrey neighbourhood after CTV consumer reporter Lynda Steele got involved. They’ve now agreed to let him cancel his contract with no penalty.
Telus is not the only company to have these issues. Bell shares cell phone towers with Telus in B.C., so it is also getting consumer complaints. And viewers have also contacted CTV about Rogers cell service too. Improving that service could take months, or even years in some areas, so what do you do in the meantime?
Some consumers have purchased cell phone boosters in an attempt to increase their signal. They range in price from $100 to $450 and are available for your car and home. Boosters work by installing an antenna on the outside of your house or on your dashboard, which allows you to pull in extra bandwidth and give you better reception.
“It would give you a 20 times more powerful reception and it would increase an area of about 500-square-feet, so if you have a small office in your house or an area where you tend to miss reception that you’re using your phone all the time, then this will aid in that type of thing,” said Chris Newbigging, Future Shop’s Cellshop supervisor.
But Telus warns consumers to be careful, saying cell phone boosters can sometimes result in even worse cell service.
“We don’t recommend that customers use cell phone boosters. In many cases they can actually cause interference in the network that degrades service,” said Shawn Hall, senior communications manager for Telus.
Instead, Telus recommends that customers who are having trouble with cell service try adjusting the settings on their smart phone so they can tap into their home Wi-Fi for a clear signal. It's also urging customers to use something called the Telus Network Experience App to report cell service problems.
“It reports any network issues that you're having and we take all that information from all the customers that have that application and we use that in our planning processes now going forward," said Hall.
That Telus app was launched in February. Click here for more information.
If you're not sure how to connect your smart phone to your home Wi-Fi you can get a free lesson from Telus. It offers one hour customer learning sessions for free at most of its outlets. You can call ahead and make an appointment.