October 18, 2021

Bad Cell service? Blame the fog. It’s going away on Wednesday.

The inversion and resulting fog will continue today. It was zero visibility on some parts of Highway 4 near Whiskey Creek this morning so please drive carefully.

Below is what the UWash model looks like when it is like this. Notice the very heavy cloud in the northern Strait of Georgia that extends quite far onto the East side of the Island from north Nanaimo up to Campbell River. The fog in Port Alberni is a function of the Valley effect and inversion.

This morning’s satellite image confirms the cloud is even more extensive in the Strait stretching the entire length of the East coast. I have had a heck of a time uploading images to this post as I ride the bus because the cell data signal has been so weak. I will blame that on the fog. Did you know that moisture scatters radio frequencies like cell tower transmissions? There is a good simple explanation why here.

Basically, higher frequencies, around and above 2000MHz get scattered more by moisture like dense fog or especially rain. So in conditions like we have had you might notice your data signal is not as strong or reliable.

Cell companies use both low (850MHz) and high frequency signals to provide you with service. The table below is what the Telus system uses. Notice they use 2100MHz for their LTE “across Canada” but also 850MHz for fallback because it is more reliable.

You will be hearing about 5G networks soon. And those networks will feature even higher ranges. Fallbacks will be 600MHz but will range up to 6000MHz. There will also be versions of 5G in the 24000MHz to 86000MHz (24-86GHz) range. Expect those to be more affected by moisture.

To compensate and ensure the same coverage and promised speeds, cell companies will need to install more towers.

The good news is that Tuesday will be the final day that we see this heavy fog. A front will push in from the West bringing light showers on Wednesday morning and throughout the day. A stronger front will bring more rain on Thursday morning. Once those two we will have a chance at clearing skies.

Drive carefully!