If you break down on the Transmission Gully highway, or have a prang, you might not be able to use your cellphone to call for help.

For there’s an immediate problem with the new $1.2 billion, 27km stretch of motorway out of Wellington, officially opened this morning: mobile blackspots. The head of an industry group says the patchy cellphone coverage stems from the limited access that Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees got to the project during its construction and the telco’s design plan being ignored – and that he understands the solution will involve smashing up parts of the new motorway.

But Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency says a “future-proofing” ducting system should negate the need to dig anything up, and that it sees the ball in the telcos’ court. It also says that although 111 emergency calling isn’t possible at some points, a subcontractor will monitor the entire stretch of new road 24/7.

“The mobile network operators produced a design plan to provide coverage on Transmission Gully back in 2020,” says Paul Brislen, head of the Telecommunications Forum that counts Spark, Vodafone NZ, 2degrees and Chorus among its members.