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BBC launch survey of UK mobile coverage
Monday 18 July 2011 10:45:42 by John Hunt

The BBC have launched a survey to measure mobile coverage in the UK. Over the next month, they will be asking users to use a mobile phone app which will record the availability of both 2G and 3G services and they will then create a clickable map to show the data. The project is in collaboration with Epitiro who have developed the application for the android smart phone. It will measure signal strength only, and won't performing any testing of the connection.

"Coverage is the number one issue for consumers. Our coverage app will provide the information consumers need to see if 3G services are available and from which mobile operator. As mobile broadband is important to many of us, we hope people volunteer and make the project a success.

Gavin Johns, (Chief Executive) Epitiro

One of the problems with mobile phone signals is that signal strength will drop when impeded by something. This is commonly seen by walls reducing the available signal, such that when in buildings, the signal strength is much lower. This is largely due to the frequencies which are used. At 2.1GHz for 3G, more signal is blocked by walls than the 900MHz used by some 2G networks. This means that users sometimes find that they can still access mobile networks when inside, but are often using the slower 2G GSM network.

A recent ruling has meant that networks which use these lower 900MHz frequencies (O2 and Vodafone) can now use it for 3G services, however this will only benefit customers on those networks. Next generation services such as LTE, which are frequently called 4G, will use spectrum in the 800MHz range and this will also be able to penetrate further into buildings, although it is estimated that these won't be available for use until 2013 or 2014 at the earliest.

Some network operators are calling for a standardised way to measure mobile coverage as some operators grossly exaggerate their expected coverage. This project by the BBC may help to name and shame those who are reporting coverage incorrectly, if they can be easily compared.


Posted by mitchja over 6 years ago
only for Android handsets though....what about iPhones/Nokia etc etc????????
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
Nokia is increasingly irrelevant, sadly. Great hardware - crap software. Even worse business sense.

The iPad version is probably awaiting Steve's permission.
Posted by JttB over 6 years ago
The iPhone version proved unreliable depending on how you held the phone.
Posted by mervl over 6 years ago
Whatever the merits (which I suspect are much less than some people expect), I thought the BBC's current governance through the BBC Trust was that they shouldn't be in every market just because they could be. As usual sounds like a policy more honoured by the breach than observance. But the devil has a way of finding work . . . especially for idle managers to do.
Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago
Can an iPhone multitask enough to do this ? didn't used to be able to cut & paste.

Debatable use of BBC funds, other apps do same thing. Results will not be informative to mobile nets, shrug ans say "so what?".
Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago - oops, been done already.
Posted by SheepFarmer over 6 years ago
I don't believe they're doing it to create a comprehensive database. I think they're doing it as an investigation. The method they've chosen is a good way of getting people involved and interested.
Posted by timmay over 6 years ago
How do you kill an android app? This continues to use GPS when closed!
Posted by timmay over 6 years ago
There's a better way to do this that'll give more complete coverage/data. Give an android phone to all post men with the app installed!
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
@timmay:I use Advanced Task Killer. It runs all the time on my phone. Some people claim that isn't necessary with Android but I disagree, I easily get two days out of a single battery charge with my Desire and that's more than most people.
Posted by Gandalf over 6 years ago
Totally killed my battery in less than a day of normal use on my Desire too. Rooted and with a custom OS, normally can get two to three days of normal use.

So uninstalled, it's had 24 hours of data from me!
Posted by bigluap over 6 years ago
an updated version has been released which it is hoped will increase battery life.
Posted by KeithjDerby over 6 years ago
I've used both versions and the new one, even though it is better than before, still hammers the battery on my Galaxy S. As an example, I used the phone with the screen on for four minutes, the screen took 45% but this App took 30%, readings taken from the About Phone/Battery Use section of Settings.
Posted by bigluap over 6 years ago
Installed the latest version of the app for improved battery life, it has improved from taking 36 hours to drain the battery to 20 hours, HTC desire.
The only thing I have noticed whilst running the program I get a better signal, than when it is un-installed. Which makes me wonder if the networks can identify the program & boost your performance to give false readings.
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