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BBC to map the UK’s 3G signalBBC to map the UK’s 3G signal

by Jenna Mc

There is nothing more frustrating than having no signal on your mobile phone and being unable to phone anyone or access the internet. The BBC now plan to investigate this issue by surveying the availability of 3G and 2G services all over the UK.

Although some mobile operators have their own coverage map, the BBC will provide an independent survey. They will measure the availability of 3G and 2G services up and down the country over the next month. The measurements will be made using an app which can be downloaded by anyone with an android smartphone and it will record street level coverage across Britain. The BBC will therefore require people from all over the country to download the app to help out with the survey. The results will then be displayed in a clickable map.

A similar project has been carried out by opensignalmaps to identify mobile coverage globally.

The UK’s average mobile download speed is 1.5Mbit/s. In areas of good 3G coverage, that figure rises to 2.1Mbit/s. The quality of mobile coverage can be affected by many different things like the structure of the building you are in, if the walls are thick then your signal will not be as strong.

The scheme hopes to provide information about which networks have the best coverage in different areas. So once the experiment is carried out we could use the information to find out which network provides the best mobile coverage in our local area and then decide which network provider to go with. Network providers will be also be able to see which areas their coverage is poor in so that they can take measures to improve it. The success of this project and the usefulness of the results rely on lots of people over the UK downloading the app.

One major weakness of the BBC survey is that it will not measure speed. With more people using their mobile for downloading and web browsing it is a very important factor and a slow internet speed can be just as frustrating as having no signal. A recent test carried out by Ofcom and Epitiro into mobile internet speed showed that the best network providers for speed were O2 and Vodafone and that Orange had one of the slowest speeds.

The BBC survey app is called “UK 3G Survey” and can be downloaded from the BBC website or the app market.

Will you be taking part in the BBC mobile coverage survey? Let us know below.

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