Bell-Northwestel Communication Breakdown?

Twice in the last 2 weeks, there’s been a significant, long-term Bell Mobility mobile network outage in at least Whitehorse. It’s coincided both times with reports on Twitter from Northwestel of internet disruptions due to to cut cables (here and here; the latter appears to apply only to Ross River).

In both cases you could “feel” a significant drop in internet quality by the virtue of a reduction in web page responsiveness and an almost total disability to stream media like video from YouTube or download files from iTunes. Late last night especially, it was painful to be online (like 20+ seconds to download basic web pages over my $90/month internet connection; ouch).

And almost exactly corresponding with the duration of that reduction in connectivity quality, the local mobile network was completely down (at least, the 3G one was; I can’t speak for the old CDMA one).

The first mobile-phone outage and internet service disruption, on the 13th, lasted about 10 hours. The second was last night and lasted for some people from about 10:30pm last night to 6:30am this morning.

The problem is, when you call Bell to ask about these significant outages, they don’t even know they occurred. Bell Mobility is completely unaware that their mobile networks are going down for significant periods of time in Whitehorse.

It could be that Bell is just not paying attention. Maybe their system isn’t as cutting edge as they make it out to be and they’re simply unable to monitor network stability and availability. One technical support rep (Glen) explained they aren’t aware of outages until a critical mass of customers call to complain; I find that very hard to believe.

And it’s suspect that these network outages coincide with internet access disruptions in Whitehorse. Could it be that Northwestel is somehow responsible for Bell’s mobile network in Whitehorse and, when they experience outages, they’re not reporting them to Bell for some reason?

Does anyone know anything about the internet or mobile network outages? Has anyone managed to extract an explanation for them from either Bell or Northwestel?

To be honest, I don’t even care about the circumstances. I just need an explanation, and I feel one is owed to me since I’m giving both of these companies a significant amount of money every month. And it irritates me that no explanation is forthcoming.

When information about service disruptions are difficult to attain from providers, however, one tends to become suspect about the circumstances and begin to think the providers are hiding something. Otherwise, why obfuscate?

It would be ideal if both service providers maintained some sort of status page that was maintained with up-to-date information about disruptions, upgrades, and anything else pertinent to the quality of service being provided. Web app developer 37 Signals, for example, provides just such a report, and it goes a long way to alleviating user anxiety. And I wouldn’t have to keep phoning them and hassling them, which would save them and me tons of time and money.

Instead, Bell and Northwestel, either intentionally or by accident, choose to withhold this information or make it very difficult to attain. Which leads to a lot of confused and pissed off customers, like me and several others I’m aware of.

Why hide your mistakes when it’s so much easier to admit them, learn from them, and move on?

I don’t even know why I ask really, about the philosophical aspects of admitting mistakes, or about Bell’s and Northwestel’s flubs. I should know by now that these are two companies that rejoice in stonewalling their customers, and that’s never going to change.

2 thoughts on “Bell-Northwestel Communication Breakdown?

  1. What I don’t understand is why they would Twitter the messages letting users know of the problem, when we can’t access the messages. It is nice to see that someone did think of doing this… but it still leaves those of us affected hanging in limbo until an actual person comes to deliver the message.

    Oh, and what was with the sneaky way NWTel increased the price of internet packages? Their reason? To keep up with the system and to provide the best service possible …uhmmm….. ok, sure.

    • its funny how rodges or telus don’t up their cost and pass the tower up grades onto the customers i’m so tempted to switch to telus as in fort nelson we have that choise i think if i hear that stupid excuse one more time i’ll ask why thr others don’t up their rates

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