Nfld. & Labrador

Loss of St. John's cell tower still causing service problems 3 months later, resident says

A cellular tower fell on a building on Blackmarsh Road in February, and Carla McIsaac says service hasn't been the same since.

Neighbours must go down the street to make reliable phone calls, Carla McIsaac said

A Bell Aliant cellular tower crashed into a building on Blackmarsh Road in February. Three months later, residents say they are still feeling the effects through weak cell service. (Ryan Cooke/CBC)

Some people in the west end of St. John's say their cellphone service has been inconsistent and sometimes unreliable since a tower fell in the area in late February.

"Since that tower came down, our service for our cellphones has been pretty well non-existent in our house," Carla McIsaac, who lives in the area, told The St. John's Morning Show Tuesday.

"If you tried to call me on my cellphone, the call would be dropped … and a lot of times our cellphones would say no service."

The cell tower belonging to Bell Aliant crashed on top of a Blackmarsh Road building that housed St. Pat's Bowling Lanes and a party rental shop. All the people who had been working in the building were evacuated.

McIsaac said that when she wants to use her cellphone at home, she needs to go down the street as the signal isn't strong enough. She said her neighbours are experiencing similar problems.

"We have no other choice, really," she said. "I guess that I've come to terms with it, but it is really frustrating. I just really hope that the tower will be going up sooner than later."

She and her family have been using Wi-Fi assisted calling in order to make calls, at the advice of their service provider. However, she noted they have seen Wi-Fi speeds decrease since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

"Wi-Fi callings works great if your Wi-Fi is strong enough," she said. "The problem is when COVID-19 occurred, our Wi-Fi is much slower than it's ever been. I suspect it's because of the large number of people staying at home, doing their work from home. I think most people have found their Wi-Fi has slowed down at certain points of the day."

In an emailed statement to CBC, a spokesperson for Bell Aliant said the construction of a new tower is underway, and that it is expected to be in service in July.

The company also expanded capacity of nearby sites to help make up for the lost tower, along with adding a temporary tower in Mundy Pond to help improve service in the area.

St. John's city council approved a proposal to install a temporary cell tower at Ropewalk Lane in March.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show

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