Federal regulator demands answers from Bell MTS over landline service complaints

Federal regulators are demanding answers and solutions from the bell MTS after several Manitobans have spoken out about their landline phone service which they call unacceptable.

The main landline at St. George’s Anglican Church in Crescentwood has been down since late April. Mary Smith, a parish administrator, said many parishioners there rely on that old school phone service.

“It’s been really frustrating, at this point, it’s hard for people to reach the Church,” said Smith.

Making matters worse, the phone line is connected to the church’s security system, so calls were rerouted to a backup line.

“And that line was going down as well and we were getting security alarms to the people who answer to them,” said Smith.

The Church’s service provider is Bell MTS.

“They apparently came and nobody seems to know what they did and we still don’t have a phone,” said Smith. “It would be nice if they could provide constant service, that’s all we’re asking.”

The church is not alone. Other people CTV News spoke with are also having issues with their Bell MTS landlines.

Karen Kirk’s phone works now, but the West End homeowner said that was not the case three weeks during the first downpour of rain.

“The service became very crackly and it was difficult to hear,” said Kirk.

On top of that, Kirk said the system malfunctioned, inadvertently calling 911 three times resulting in a late night knock at her door to make sure everyone in the house was okay.

Joy Sutyla’s 84-year-old father has had a prolonged outage since March 8. He lives alone in rural Manitoba near Elma.

“I’m worried that I’m going to find him on the floor and he can’t tell me this,” said Sutyla.

Because of the number of complaints, the Canadian Radio‑television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which is the federal regulator of broadcasting and telecommunications, is demanding Bell MTS identify all landline quality issues in the Winnipeg area.

On top of that, the CRTC is requiring Bell MTS to provide a plan to resolve the problem, along with a timeline.

“These issues and outages are impacting their ability to contact 9-1-1 and essential services. Moreover, residents have been complaining of poor customer service, missed appointments, and that Bell MTS has failed to respond to service outages in a timely manner. Many of the complaints refer to deteriorating telecommunications infrastructure across the city,” the CRTC said in a letter to Bell MTS.

Bell, which owns Bell MTS, is the parent company of CTV News. In a statement, Bell MTS said the extreme weather events this winter and spring have caused damage to cables.

“We have called in staff from outside of the area and our technicians are working overtime to get customers’ services up and running as quickly as possible. As calls for repairs are up over 60 per cent, we have been connecting with customers who may be experiencing prolonged outages to offer alternative service solutions,” the company told CTV News.

Bell MTS also said to prepare for the flooding it sandbagged its infrastructure and deployed batteries and generators in case of power outages.

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