Burin man pushing for better cell coverage

A local resident is challenging a phone company and the provincial government for better cell phone coverage on the Burin Peninsula.
Resident Clyde Hooper has been collecting names for a petition to get more cell phone reception on the Burin Peninsula. (CBC)

A Burin Peninsula man is challenging a phone company and the provincial government for better cell phone in the region.

Much of the area is considered a dead zone for cell phones. But Clyde Hooper has been working over the past year to change that.

While he didn't get much action the first time around, Hooper has been collecting names for a second petition to deliver to Bell Mobility.

"I phoned Bell. Never even phoned me back in the last year," he said.

"I've been lobbying our three members of government – Clyde Jackman, Darin King, Calvin Peach – and they just say they're meeting with Bell, but that's not good enough."

Like many residents, Gerard Kelly said he's concerned about the dead zones along the Burin Peninsula highway, especially during the winter.

"You can easily enough get stuck or go off the road coming up there, and it's all open barrens and drifting snow, and it's isolated. There are no communities, and you're not getting out of your car and walking anywhere," Kelly said.

Dangerous situation

The fire department in Baine Harbour faced issues during hurricane Igor in 2010, when wind tore down landlines. Without cell service, emergency crews had to monitor a satellite radio in a pick-up truck.

"You're just not going to sit aboard a pick-up truck and wait for a call to come in. You have to hear a call, and that's what we had to rely on," said Deputy Fire Chief Chris Keating.

"This day and age, everybody should have cell phone coverage."

Hooper said he's not letting Bell off the hook.

"I'll be going right to St. John's, in front of Bell, next time around, with my names," he said.

"I have over 1,100 right now. And I ain't about to stop, because we're paying for a service that we're not getting."

The government said it's talking to Bell about improving cell coverage. Bell said while the company is open to partnerships with government, it can't comment on which areas could benefit.