16 Oct 2022

Auckland mayor calls for solution to city's mobile black spots

5:13 pm on 16 October 2022
Close up of a man using mobile smart phone

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown says issues with mobile black spots were raised with him on the campaign trail. Photo: 123rf

Auckland's new mayor Wayne Brown has announced a campaign to eradicate mobile black spots across the city, but a telecommunications expert says the move isn't financially viable.

In an open letter to the heads of 2degrees, Spark and One (formerly Vodafone), Brown said he dealt with constant mobile-coverage black spots and dropped calls while on the campaign trail.

Aucklanders should be able to move freely in the CBD and other business centres, and drive along main roads, without calls dropping out, he said.

"Mobile coverage is vital for road safety, emergency services, civil defence and the wider functioning of commerce in our region.

"Aucklanders are right to be frustrated when mobile coverage in the city is substandard and limited. It is time to fix the remaining black spots in Auckland's mobile network," he told the companies.

Telecommunications Forum chief executive Paul Brislen said the move wasn't financially viable.

"A mobile phone network consists of cellphone towers, fibre-optic cables, electricity supply of course - you've got to have a lot of these things in place. And all of that comes at a cost, so making sure we're investing in the right areas where people live and work is essential."

Fixing mobile blind spots is a process that can take years, Brislen said.

"You're talking about the thick end of a million dollars to build a single site, have it fibered, have it connected and have that all electrified so you can run it, and then connect it back to the network itself."

In order to make a return on this kind of investment, there needed to be enough people interested in using the service, Brislen said.

Brown told the providers he was curious if any Auckland Council bylaws, policies or operations were contributing to the problem.

He asked the providers to tell his office by the end of October "what is being done to identify and address mobile-coverage black spots (including spots with only limited coverage), and the consequent rate of dropped calls throughout the region".

He hopes to work with mobile providers on fixing the issue.

Brown was not available for an interview today.

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