O2 blames poor mobile phone reception in Yorkshire area on 'large tree getting in the way'
Residents in Stainton and Thornton, in Middlesbrough, have complained for months about calls dropping off and cutting out. The issue has affected O2 and Vodafone customers, but also residents with smaller operators who ‘piggyback’ on the two networks by using their equipment.
Councillor David Coupe said the problems had been particularly bad since the start of summer. Residents have been speculating online about the cause of the problem with Coun Coupe stating it had been traced to a mast both O2 and Vodafone shared on council land in a wooded area off Stainton Way.
A recent O2 update said: “Sorry a phone mast close to you isn’t working. There’s a problem at the site. It seems to be a tree getting in the way of things. It means your phone signal may go up and down until we can get that sorted. We’re working as quickly as we can.”
However, after stating there’d be a further update by July 21, the next message received by Coun Coupe said an update would be provided by August 4, two weeks later. A previous update suggested engineers had also ordered replacement parts for a transmitter after an issue was identified, before declaring – “good news”, the problem had been fixed.
Coun Coupe said: “They’ve got to be kidding. The amount of calls dropping out is ridiculous and it has just got worse and worse and worse. The coverage in Stainton and Thornton is just atrocious and it is not going to get better any time shortly unless they really get something done.
“First of all O2 said it was a fault on a transmitter and they were waiting for a part. Then – oh – it was trees. Residents are asking: ‘Can we get the service sorted out?’ – it’s not just O2, it’s Vodafone as well. People are getting upset about it – some people don’t have landlines and mobiles are a vital service.”
Coun Coupe said he had been given a month’s free calls after complaining to O2 and said he would encourage as many people as possible to complain “because they might actually do something then”.
He said as far as Middlesbrough Council staff he had spoken to were aware, neither operator had been in touch with the local authority, which would be a requirement were trees at the mast site needing to be cut back. He said he had been to the site and a beeping could be heard from the mast, which was believed to be an alarm.
Summing up the situation, Coun Coupe added: “It’s appalling customer service and a lack of courtesy for customers.”
Vodafone has also previously posted updates for its customers stating that there’s a problem with the mobile network in the area that may be causing issues with its service and apologising for the delay in fixing it.
Stainton resident Bob Small, who contacted Coun Coupe in an attempt to put pressure on the phone networks, said he had taken to travelling in his car to areas with a better signal to make important calls and customers were paying for a service they were not getting.
Mr Small, of High Rifts, who is a TalkMobile customer, which uses Vodafone signalling equipment, said: “I have been told four times that they have fixed it and four times it is no better. I have been running up a bill on my landline because I could not use my mobile phone, it has been an absolute nightmare.”
An O2 spokesman said: “We apologise to residents in the Thornton area who may be experiencing intermittent issues with their mobile phone service. This is due to a large tree interfering with [the] signal. We are working to have this resolved and we will restore normal service as soon as we can.”
Vodafone was approached for a comment, but no response was received.