Public Mobile off to shaky start: It basically doesn’t work

Public Mobile, which vowed to be a “different” kind of cellphone company, has written itself a rough opening chapter. The cellular service, promised to begin on Friday morning, was riddled with areas of bad or no reception.

Gina Couture, 46, spoke to the Montreal Gazette over the matter.  She has never owned a cellular phone, but has always wanted one. However, she found the plans of existing cellphone companies too expensive. That’s why she enrolled with Public Mobile. But, alas, there is no cellular reception in her area (Mont Royal).

“I was told by a customer service agent that the service isn’t guaranteed to work inside, but there seems to be no reception anywhere near where I live,” Couture told the paper.

Her incident is not isolated. Dozens of complaints were posted on the Public Mobile blog by today. The company was expected to have full coverage of the Montreal Island by Friday. Supposedly, West Island residents will have to wait several weeks before they get any reception. One saviour is that Public Mobile has given them a month of free service to ease their pains.

For the most part, Public Mobile has not admitted that it is having coverage problems. It said those who are experiencing problems should charge their batteries. If that fails, call a specific telephone number. Gina tried that. But the only thing that ended up working for her was to go to the nearest Public Mobile. That’s where the network appears to be strongest.

Brian O’Shaughnessy, Public Mobile’s chief technical officer, has said customers should experience improvements every week, as the company continues to build out its network. He also said his team is noting all  coverage complaints and marking them on a map of Montreal – so far, most of the problems are centred around a few specific areas.

The company’s next problem may be mass cancellations: the mobile  entrant doesn’t have any contracts, so subscribers can cancel on a whim. And boy, is that looking tempting!

Tell us your experiences thus far with Public Mobile in the comment section below.