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Telus or Rogers? Which gets best reception
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2013-01-20 at 6:55:16 AM GMT
Posts: 8
Telus or Rogers? Which gets best reception

I currently have a Telus cell  phone and am thinking of going with a Fido contract as its considerably cheaper.

Fido assure me that they run on the Rogers network and I hear from others that the Rogers network is equal to Telus.

I am interested in the Gulf Islands, round Vancouver Island and up the coast to Queen Charlotte island etc.

Is the reception really as good as Telus off shore?

I came down the Sunshine coast this summer from Powel river to Vancouver and the reception with Telus was good.  Not perfect and I dont expect perfection.


Last edited January 31, 2013
2013-01-20 at 4:32:22 PM GMT
Posts: 8
Doubt it matters much north of Desolation

I only have experience with telus, so I can't offer a useful comparison.  But I don't think you can expect very much from any cell phone once you leave Georgia Strait and Juan de Fuca Strait..  In 2010 I sailed around Vancouver Island and in 2011 I sailed up the inside passage as far as Alaska.  Once I got past Campbell River I very rarely had cell phone coverage.  I see the current telus coverage map shows coverage most of the way between Campbell River and Port Hardy, so maybe things have changed a bit - but the map still shows no coverage on most of the west coast of the island, the inside passage, or Haida Gwaii.

2013-02-01 at 9:28:24 AM GMT
Posts: 15
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2013-02-06 at 8:48:21 PM GMT
Posts: 15
They're both about the same...

For most of the Georgia Strait: you'll find that Rogers/Fido is the predominant service.  Telus and others also have a strong presence South of Campbell River.  Either way, you'll find good cellular coverage pretty much everywhere there is population to support the need.  Be aware though, you will loose service in the middle of the Strait.

A note about the southern half of the Strait on the Mainland side.  You will lose reception in most of the isolated arms and bays.  This is because so much of the mainland coastline remains unpopulated as compared to the Vancouver Island side.  However if you can 'see' the waters of the Strait... there is a good chance of a cellular signal.  The advice here is not to wait until you're snuggled into a protected anchorage to make that critical phone call.  Do it while you're still underway and out in the open.

You probably already know this, but some carriers get along, and some don't.  Depending on their relationships, they will share towers.  Rogers, Fido, T-Mobile are examples of service providers who get along with each other and share towers together.  Telus and Bell are another example, and share towers with each other, but not with Rogers, Fido & T-Mobile.  As new players enter the cellular arena the mix might change.  Enough said: here's a link to the Canadian Cel Tower map. Check it out and you'll see for yourself how sketchy cellular communication becomes as you travel North and/or around the island.

As a rule of thumb, you can expect communication if you have line-of-sight, max 10-12km.  You might have communication up to 3km in Near or No-Line Of Sight situations.  Reference the map above to estimate your chances for where you plan to go. 

Line of sight, really is... line of sight.  If you're interested, here are some examples: Using the Telus tower at the entrance to Desolation Sound as the reference point (Green Tower on the map) – my experience is as follows:

  1. Entrance to Squirrel Cove (distance from tower=10.4k) Clear Line Of Sight and good signal.
  2. Inside Squirrel Cove (distance=10.9k) Near Clear Line Of Sight.  The signal remains usable but has become marginal.
  3. Next example.  Still using the same Tower.  While anchored deep inside Von Donop Inlet and the distance has become 12k but now there's another hill and lots of trees getting in the way.  No Clear Line of Sight and as expected, the signal has become intermittent.  You might be able to make a messy, 20 second connection before it drops but essentially... it's unusable.
  4. If you dingy ashore, and hike to the hilltop - you'd probably be fine.

One more example, (still referencing the same Telus tower.)  Even greater distances:

  1. West Redonda Island, NE of Rosco Bay (distance to tower = 14k) Clear Line Of Sight and a very good signal.
  2. The boat turns, and moves further North.  Heading for Pendrell Sound or Waddington Channel.  As you pass behind the West Redonda headland, the Clear Line of Sight becomes No Clear Line of Sight... and the signal IMMEDIATELY vanishes.
  • It's a little strange to look at the water 100 feet behind you, still disturbed by your passing - and know that 'just over there' you can have nearly full bars, and perfectly good communication. 

So for your trip, do take your cel... as it's the easiest way to communicate with family at home - but depend on VHF for marine communications.  Adding to this:  considering SSB is a worthy thought North of the Desolation Islands.

Question: Is your interest in Cel... just to stay in touch with people at home? If so – seriously consider the Delorme InReach. This device offers interactive 2-way SMS text  messaging via the Iridium Satellite System and works anywhere in the world you can see the sky.  It also sends/receives short emails.  The SMS ability is exactly like two telephones communicating with each other except for how a phone, when it goes over the character allotment for a message - that message gets broken into multiple messages.  The satellite version will simply truncate your message so you need to pay attention.

Idea for the Cellular side of things:  You can use a booster to enhance/extend your Cellular range.  You will need to match the booster to the Cellular Technology you intend to use (frequency and signal type of your phone...) but with this setup, you will increase the sensitivity of what you can receive, and by a large degree -- increase the power by which you transmit.  Very effectively increasing your cellular range. The units work really well... but there's a cost so depending on your situation, "How important is this to me?” is a question you will find yourself asking.

A note about enhancing cellular signals:  The cell phone in your hand will be very near the signal regenerator (aboard your boat) so your phone will always see full bars.  You need to keep in mind however, that your signal regenerator might be regenerating a 1 bar signal - so in reality, you are working with a very powerful single bar.  What's the point you ask?  Well... your phone, by itself probably won't work well with a single bar, but a signal regenerator can do amazing things with that bar.

Everything has it's limits, and the final decision is yours.

Last edited February 29, 2016
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