Dear Editor:

The lack of social contact resulting from the pandemic has forced most of us to rely on electronic communication. In order to meet the requirements of public health directives, we have been relegated to FaceTime, email, texts or phone calls – all poor substitutes for face-to-face contact. Living in the Columbia Valley exacerbates this problem, but there is a movement afoot that I recently became aware of.

Concerned Telus customers in the Valley are fed up with poor cell phone, data and internet service. So much so, that they have started a petition, currently ninety strong and growing. Some have called the 611 number to lodge complaints over the past year. Others have threatened to contact the CRTC directly and complain; all apparently have been told that if enough complaints are lodged, Telus would address the issue.

A chance meeting with a gentleman who, in fact, educates telephone company employees and also has a consulting firm, explained the issues to me – that the problems were seasonal, in alignment with the volume of usage. The population of the Columbia Valley dramatically fluctuates with the seasons; during busy tourist seasons, the increase in demand for telephone/data increases dramatically, causing interruptions similar to brownouts that occur when there is a surge in demand for electricity.

 There are options: Change to another service provider, which would be a partial fix for the internet. Cell phones are a different matter, as they rely on cell towers that are generally owned by Telus; Utilize the odd/even system used for summer watering (?); Speak to your local MP. Suggest a few questions he may ask of Telus, the CRTC and the current Federal Government, such as:

Why was a grant given to Telus by the Federal government to install high-speed internet fibre optic cables into Panorama with its seasonal population? Is it true that high priority data use is given to business clients for card transactions? If so, how does Telus compensate for the high demand during tourist season? Why is there no fibre optic cable between Radium and the Invermere telephone exchange? What type of cable connects the Windermere East Lake site to the Invermere exchange? How many full-time staff are currently employed by Telus as on-site internet service technicians between Cranbrook and Golden?

In all honesty, I am annoyed by the lack of service, the prioritization of upgrades and, last but not least, the recent cost increases in my substandard internet billing.

Through our MP, we can hopefully communicate in one strong, clear voice.

Contact Rob Morrison, MP at 250- 417-2250 

Allen Segstro, Radium Hot Springs