Interference from Venezuela on mobile devices

If you encounter slow mobile internet or dropped calls, you may be inclined to complain about your mobile service provider. The obvious suspect is not always to blame, however. In this news bulletin Agentschap Telecom (Radio Agency Netherlands) explains what the cause may be.


Radio applications make use of a scientific phenomenon to propogate and that is why radio signals are not always behaving in a predictable manner. Weather conditions, buildings, the landscape and radiation of the sun all have their influence on the way radio signals travel.


With extremely beautiful weather, mobile telephone networks on Bonaire, but also on Aruba and Curacao, sometimes suffer from interfering signals that originate from Venezuela. Mobile phone towers on the coast of Venezuela are situated on a mountain ridge and are therefore positioned relatively high. That alone is already bad news for neighbouring countries. But when certain combinations of temperature, air pressure and humidity occur, radio signals can suddenly travel much longer distances than under normal conditions.


Scientist call this phenomenon “ducting”. Instead of dying out over a certain distance, radio waves are reflected between layers of air and sometimes also the sea. The energy stays concentrated so to say. Signals travelling five times the usual distance are no exception. The approximately 100 kilometres between Venezuela and Bonaire can easily be covered in such cases.


As a consequence, operators on the ABC Islands are having difficulties maintaining the quality of the local connections on an acceptable level.


Agentschap Telecom seeks, in close cooperation with Bureau Telecommucatie & Post and the Venezuelan regulator Conatel, to persuade mobile operators in Venezuela to make adjustments to their networks. In view of the current political and economic situation negotiations are tedious.


On a local level, Agentschap Telecom is investigating possibilities to have operators make use of other frequency bands, that suffer less from interference. This takes time, however. Until these solutions are established, this problem deserves your patience and understanding.


If you would like to check if ducting conditions are probable, you can find a prediction on the following website:


Agentschap Telecom is the telecom regulator for Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba.