Rural Manitoba Farmer Left Without Signal After Bell MTS Network Change

A rural Manitoba farmer has been left without cell service after her carrier switched her CDMA network to the latest 4G LTE network.

According to a new report from CTV, a Bell MTS customer living north of Dauphin is frustrated with the company’s decision to switch her region over from CDMA to the latest 4G LTE network last month.

Lorna DeVos, a farmer in Fork River, Manitoba, complains that she’s has had relatively reliable service on the CDMA system for years — but not anymore.

“Now it’s quite frightening in that we’re heading into a new seeding season in terms of our business,” said DeVos. “Everything was coordinated via cellphone, like fuel deliveries and seed deliveries and fertilizer to the field, that’s just one way it impacts us directly.”

Bell MTS switched her region over from CDMA to the latest 4G LTE network on April 2, and a few weeks prior sent DeVod a replacement phone intended to work with the news network as well as a letter informing her of the change.

However, despite activating her phone properly, DeVos says she can’t get a signal on it without driving 25 kilometres south.

“So now my old (phone) is defunct and I have the new one. It currently functions in Dauphin, which is a half hour drive away, but it does not function where I live, where my old phone used to work,” she said.

According to DeVos, the loss of cell service has sparked a number of safety concerns in her community, including potential increased risk for those working in emergency services that require cell service.

“That’s quite a scary thing when you realize your local fire department might not even get the message that there’s a fire,” she said, adding that it’s now more difficult for people in rural communities to access help if they find themselves in trouble.

“I think another thing that could happen is people running into trouble and now they have to walk for help, because there’s not a lot of traffic around here and most people don’t leave their doors anymore because of the high rural crime rate, so even if you do get to a farmyard you might not get any help there. You could be moving around for a long time before anybody could help you,” she said.

In a statement, Bell MTS implied DeVos may have been one of a few Manitobans not fully served by the old network.

“In some areas of rural Manitoba which were never formally covered by our CDMA network, customers may have been able to pick up intermittent signals from nearby communities. This may not always be the case on the new network,” spokesperson Andrew Parkinson wrote.