West Melton cell site compromise causes coverage issues

Spark have published a media release explaining the cause of coverage issues in West Melton.

Spark New Zealand has contacted some of its customers to explain that the cell coverage issues they have been having outside of West Melton are being caused by a compromise on the height of the cell site that was made after some residents objected to its original height.

A number of customers have complained to Spark about dropped calls and slow mobile data after the West Melton site was installed. Other mobile providers are understood to have also received complaints.

“We’re very sorry about this. Unfortunately due to some local objections this site did not get the height requirements we wanted when it was going through the consent process. This had a coverage impact, particularly to customers outside of the main town,” says Spark Head of Public Affairs Conor Roberts.

“At the time, it was pointed out that compromises on the height would result in less than ideal coverage, which is the reason why some customers are now experiencing problems. We are looking at realigning the antennas and hopefully that helps.

Even though West Melton is the community’s closest site, because of its height it is does not cover some parts of the town and that is forcing some customer’s cell phones to bounce between neighboring sites that are further away.

“Different sites and different carriers can create interference with each other, while topography and local structures can create coverage shadows. These become more evident when the coverage requirements are not being met by a dominant cell site.

Spark’s plan is to rotate the antennas of West Melton to provide better service to the town. This move may actually help those customers having coverage issues by removing a low level polluter (interference from another site), but some customers will be surrounded by shelter belts so the physical coverage will remain unchanged from the two other sites.

“Spark thanks those customers who have stuck with us through this. We’re really sorry that the outcome of problems with installing the site has had the knock on effect of causing coverage issues.

“We hope those people having problems hang on while we fine-tune the positioning of the West Melton site. We believe these issues would not have been evident if the site was permitted to be built to the original plan.

“Given the importance of mobile communications, it is important that telecommunications providers can install the infrastructure necessary to deliver effective mobile coverage,” concluded Mr Roberts.