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Concerns over a lack of cellphone coverage in one of Dunedin’s outer suburbs have led to calls for better service across the wider area.

Earlier this week, residents of Ocean Grove called for more reliable coverage after a woman experienced a stroke at Tomahawk Beach and could not contact her family for help.

The Otago Daily Times received many emails and messages from readers about a lack of coverage in their area.

Areas such as Outram, Brighton and Wingatui were identified as problematic for coverage.

Some suburbs closer to the city, such as Maori Hill, Musselburgh and Belleknowes, also had inconsistent coverage.

A Halfway Bush woman said she had could only get a signal in one area of her house.

The dead patches in coverage around the area were annoying, ‘‘especially when you consider how much we pay for these services,’’ she said.

George Gardener, of Sawyers Bay, said he often wandered around his backyard trying to get reception.

He had spoken to Vodafone about his connection problems multiple times, but had seen no evidence they were working to remedy the problem.

Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) head of communications and engagement Caitlin Metz said there were a variety of reasons why coverage might be inconsistent even in areas which providers said had reception.

Natural obstacles such as hills or thick vegetation could affect signal and there was little that could be done about that.

However, the problem was not just that simple, she said.

Many cellphone sites throughout Dunedin’s outer suburbs provided 4G connectivity, which could only be picked up by phones that supported 4G coverage.

Most voice calls were made using 3G, which was not supported by the cellphone sites.

Customers might need to upgrade their phones to access 4G voice calling, Ms Metz said.

A compatible coverage plan was also needed, which was up to the individual provider.

The situation was case specific, as some providers would offer 4G connectivity in some areas while others would not.

Those who had issues with coverage would need to speak to their individual providers, she said.

The RCG was working to complete 31 cell sites across Otago to provide rural residents with access to 4G services.

Sixteen of these sites were already live, including sites in Mihiwaka, Outram and Fortification Hill, she said.



And they wonder why people want to retain their landlines. Far more reliable and clearer reception also makes them stand out as a primary basic communication service. Yes, we can have our cell phones, and they are very handy when travelling, but for anything we do at home, it's the landline for us.

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