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Ofcom network census starts next month

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Network reliability will be under the microscope from 23 March to 23 May, with even minor outages forming part of Ofcom's upcoming report on the state of connectivity in the UK.

That's one of the conclusions (PDF/124KB) reached following Ofcom's consultation on metrics needed for the first of its three yearly reports on the state of the UK network.

The consultation was launched in July last year, and received 22 responses from the industry about what should go into the report. Ofcom will deliver the first report to the coalition government by 7 August, it is likely to be published some time after that.

That report will include the availability of wireless and wired coverage, down to postcode level (or 100m2 for mobile phone coverage). It will also cover the reliability of the coverage as well as its speed, both locally and nationally, and how congested the back haul is.

Ofcom will also look at who can receive digital TV and radio services.

Ofcom had proposed detailed measuring of network performance between April and June, but the networks argued that they needed a month or two to put the figures together, so now the period under the microscope will start before the end of this month. During that period, every outage will be recorded.

There's still some debate as to what constitutes an "outage", but Ofcom intends to gather as much detail as possible. The bigger network issues will be recorded regardless of when they happen, but that two-month period will be the benchmark.

The data will only be gathered on the more-popular networks, and those available to the public. Wi-Fi hotspots won't be included this time, though they could be in 2014, while Ofcom has decided that private networks such as Airwave are outside of the scope of the report.

Deciding that scope has been complicated by the government's inability to say why it wants the data, or what it plans to do with it. Several of the 22 respondents suggested that Ofcom should do a minimalist job this year, and then use the response to that to decide how much effort to put in next time.®

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