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Spotty landline service a constant source of frustration, says Wellman Lake man

Landline users in the Wellman Lake area say they've had years of spotty service.
Landline users in the Wellman Lake area say they've had years of spotty service. Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

A group of residents living in the Wellman Lake area of western Manitoba say they’ve had to deal with spotty landline phone service for years and it’s gone beyond just being frustrated.

Frustrated resident Gordon Hart told 680 CJOB he’s lived in the area for 17 years and has had issues with his landline the entire time, and there have been days when vital communication has been lost.

“The past two weeks, we were three days without a line, starting the night of the 25th, where it would come on for a matter of a little while,” he said.

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“For the last four or five days now it’s been the same thing. It usually goes out in the evening and then they usually get it up and running just before lunch, so it’s going out for the better part of the day.”

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Hart said he pays $36 a month to Bell MTS for the line, but has invested much more in attempts at building his own DIY tower to improve coverage.

Cell service, he said, isn’t an option in his neck of the woods.

“There is a tower within a mile of here but they will not put up cell service, and to get access to cell service if you’re driving and you’re line’s down, you’re travelling at least 20 km to get into some sort of cell coverage — and then it’s even iffy there.”

Hart said his biggest concern is that someone in the area might have a medical emergency and be unable to get help.

“They’re playing Russian roulette. This could turn out bad for somebody up here, but I guess money’s the bottom dollar. They just won’t do anything,” he said.

In a statement to Global News, Bell MTS said crews have made repairs to an aging cable in the area during the past month and says they are looking for a permanent, long-term solution.

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“We have made repairs in the area over the last number of months, however a new issue was discovered on Sunday,” a Bell MTS spokesperson said.

While Hart said there are only 19 people who live in the area year-round, there’s always an influx of visitors, and it’s only a matter of time before someone can’t access phone service in a crisis.

“You’ve got ski-dooers, fishermen… there’s 130 cabins up here, and there’s over 50 cabins that have phone service of some sort.”

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