Surge in Canadian mobile and data use leads to complaints about service

Pressure on the country’s largest wireless and internet providers continues to grow as millions of Canadians shift their schedules, routines and workflow amid the coronavirus outbreak.

There have been numerous reports of customers experiencing network issues, including dropped and incomplete calls, as well as slow internet speeds.

Platforms that require high-bandwidth such as video conferencing applications and online streaming services, coupled with the volume of calls, has forced companies to adjust quickly.

According to Telus, overall voice traffic has increased by 45 per cent across the country, while data consumption is up 40 per cent.

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Surges are coinciding with major events such as provincial and federal news conferences.

When it comes to text messages, general traffic is up 30 per cent, while texts sent with videos and pictures have seen a 50 per cent jump as Canadians share their socially-distant experiences with loved ones.

Nathan Gibson, a spokesperson for Canada’s biggest telecommunications company Bell, told Global News, “With the current COVID-19 situation, landline voice is in good shape but customers may encounter brief congestion when we have daytime surges in usage. We’ll see continued improvement as we add capacity.”

Gibson said the company is working with other mobile providers to increase inter-carrier capacity for their wireless network.

Zac Carreiro with Rogers Communications said, “These are unprecedented times and as people are doing their part to stay home, we are seeing an increase in voice calls during the day.”

Other services, like 1-800 numbers have experienced a surge as well, which is largely because government agencies are utilizing toll free to support Canadians.

Many businesses are also utilizing toll-free teleconference lines to operate remotely.

Jacinthe Beaulieu with Telus said, “Where some users may receive a busy signal or have to try dialing more than once is specifically when they are using a toll-free number (e.g. a 1-800 number); this is not a network capacity issue, but rather is due to the unprecedented volume being placed upon the organizations receiving the calls during mass calling events.”

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