The BBC has announced plans to carry out a survey of mobile coverage across the UK with the help of Epitiro, who have developed an Android app to collect the data.
The survey will measure mobile signal strength for 2G and 3G but will not test connection speeds.
The data will then be used to create an online, clickable map which will be featured on the BBC website. Users can then check coverage in their area.
Gavin Johns, Chief Executive of Eptiro, told BBC News that “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.”
A report in 2009 by the communications consumer panel found that over half of consumers had experienced poor reception and over a third of these said they regularly experienced the problem. The panel conducted research in order to better advise Ofcom and other industry bodies on mobile technologies.
According to Ofcom there are over 12 million smartphone users in the UK, meaning that 3G coverage is becoming even more important to consumers.
Some providers have already allocated some of their freed-up radio spectrum in order to be able to provide more services. O2 has already done so, with Vodafone expected to follow suit in the near future.
At the moment, the UK average speed is 1.5Mbit/s with Milton Keynes having the slowest 3G in the country, and Peterborough enjoying the fastest speeds at 3.6Mbit/s, according to a survey by Top10.com.
91% of the population of the UK use mobile phones and most of these users say that the most important place to have coverage is at home.
This is problematic for 3 as they own more 3G which has trouble penetrating walls, unlike the lower frequencies such as those used for voice and radio.
Alex Buttle, Director of Top10.com told the BBC in an interview: “There’s clearly a disparity when it comes to 3G connectivity across the UK. Despite efforts by the government and mobile operators to increase the speed of 3G services, there is evidently still a long way to go.”
An app showing coverage already exists on the Android platform. However, it doesn’t collect the data for analysis as will the BBC – the clickable map can be found here.