Dropped calls plague 3G cellphone network

Heavy user traffic is leaving the newest generation of cellphone technology vulnerable to the old problem of dropped calls, experts say.
Heavy use on the 3G cellphone network is resulting in more dropped calls, says an engineering professor.
Heavy user traffic is leaving the newest generation of cellphone technology vulnerable to the old problem of dropped calls, experts say.

According to Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers Association of Canada, the issue has become one of the group's top concerns. 

"We're hearing a lot of complaints — many, many more than usual — that calls are being dropped. This is happening on a very regular basis," he said.

Most new phones now use the 3G — or third generation — network, which is supposed to allow faster surfing and accommodate bandwidth-heavy applications such as video.

But that network is getting overloaded, said University of Calgary engineering professor Geoff Messier.

"I believe that the increase in dropped and blocked calls that we're seeing is really just because of an increase in traffic," he said.

In order to meet the demand and prevent calls from being dropped, telephone companies need to build more cellphone towers and upgrade hardware, he added.

Telus admitted some of the towers the 3G networks run on are "congested" at times, which can cause dropped calls. But the company said there are plans to build more towers in the near future.

For computer consultant Karim Pabina — who said he loses as many as one out of three calls on his iPhone 3GS — the added capacity would be welcome.

"It's totally frustrating. I had to get a landline because of it, because I'm afraid that if I'm on a business call, I don't know if it's going to drop or not," he said.

Calls for comment from Rogers and Bell were not returned.