Mobile phone networks are constantly telling us how great their mobile coverage is, but we have never had an independent survey carried out to establish if they are telling us porkies or not.
Now the BBC has decided to step in and fill the void by conducting a major survey into the state of mobile phone coverage in the UK. The project will run over the course of the next month and attempt to establish the availability of 2G and 3G services around the country.
The availability will be measured by a special app that has been developed by network analysis firm Epitiro, and which can be downloaded to any Android phone. It will help to record street-level coverage across Britain and the results will be displayed by the Beeb on an interavtive clickable map. It could help to show up areas in the country without fixed-line broadband services could be catered for by mobile broadband connectivity.
"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," said Gavin Johns, chief executive of Epitiro. According to Ofcom there are currently 12 million smartphones in use around Britain today.
While Ofcom has published the average download speeds of mobile operators and a broadband speed map of the UK, it has not combined the two to provide a map of where the best mobile coverage is. While the BBC project won't be measuring speeds, it will give a searchable database letting users around the country check what services are available to them.
With 4G rollout still a couple of years away (at least), providing consumers with an accurate map of where mobile coverage is available is certainly a welcome move and could help get operators to improve their coverage in those areas which prove to have low service availability.