Tuesday 21 January 2014

New Cell Sites in North Sault

I have received various reports that Bell has recently activated a number of cell sites in the Goulais and Wawa areas. 

The new Goulais sites are Goulais Bay (Pine Shore Road), Nils Bay, and Kirby’s Corner. These sites are in addition to the existing Bell sites at Batchawana Bay, Havilland (Buttermilk) and Heyden. The site at Havilland Bay will likely come on line in the second quarter of 2014. See the map below.

St. Joseph Island  sites are still under construction.

There are also three sites in the Wawa area that are now operational. See the map below.

While the sites were built as part of the Deferral Account project, the full Deferral Account service option is not scheduled for commissioning until end July 2014. The Deferral Account network cell sites are designed to provide maximum broadband (high speed) Internet service coverage using a data hub connected to an external antenna. Standard cell voice and data service is a side benefit. Because of this, it may be possible that data hub service will be better than voice service in some areas.

Once Bell is ready to activate the Deferral Account area, they will do a advertising blitz to inform local residents about the program. 

Saturday 18 January 2014

Bell Deferral Account Report Released 17 Jan 2014

The CRTC released the Bell Deferral Account report for the 4th Quarter of 2013 on Friday 17 Jan 2014.

Unlike previous reports, there is some useful data left in this report instead of being redacted. There is still a lot of information I would like to see and cannot think of any compelling reason why it is blacked out. (They actually use the # symbol which is ironic considering how the hash tag is used in other applications to highlight available information.)

The new uncensored information provided by Bell is entitled “Service Ready Date”.  The dates for the Algoma District Deferral Account areas are:

Echo Bay
31 Aug 2014
31 Jul 2014
31 Jul 2014
St. Joseph Island
30 Jun 2014
31 Jul 2014
∗ Latest planned date. Could be earlier if all is ready

Bell indicated they are still having problems with local residents in some areas about the location of towers. The main complaints centre on aesthetics, height of the tower, and avoidance lighting. When comments about the health impact are included, the list pretty well covers the majority of adverse comments brought forth at public consultations. There have been a number of sites in the Algoma District that have been moved (on paper) in response to local input.

Bell has also had a few problems with backhaul networks. A crushed conduit under the highway near Marathon means they will be relying on radio backhaul instead of fibre optic cable for a while.

In December 2013, the CRTC specifically asked Bell about the use of an external antenna. While Bell stated “there has been no negative feedback from our customers related to the use of such antennae and that in the marketing materials we send out to the communities to be launched, we advise our potential customers that the use of an external antenna is required.”, they did not comment about any other feedback for the service in general. In particular, has Bell designed a solution that can handle network congestion?  

Finally, there are a number of small inconsistencies in the dates used in the written report document and those used in the spreadsheet. In most cases this is only a month or two but does show a lack of attention to detail which I hope is not reflected in network design.

The full report is available on the CRTC website. Scroll down to 2014-01-15 - Bell Canada