Feeds

Ofcom gives shonky Sitefinder Google Maps boost

T-Mobe and Orange still won't play, so inaccuracies multiply

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Ofcom has finally overhauled its Sitefinder database, overlaying the data on Google Maps and saving a fortune - though that data is getting less complete and more inaccurate every day.

The new version of Sitefinder was launched last week, proving a welcome relief from its previous archaic interface which some suspected was designed to discourage use.

Ofcom tells us that the integration with Google Maps has saved it a fortune, which makes it all the more remarkable the upgrade didn't even warrant a press release. Perhaps the regulator didn't want anyone to be reminded that the cell site data for T-Mobile and Orange is getting steadily more out of date.

That's because T-Mobile hasn't been providing any base station locations to Ofcom since 2005, and since last year's merger Orange has joined the boycott in refusing to supply information despite (or because of) the regulator's obligation to tell us about it. Given that Three shares that network it's hard to tell where it stands*, so it's only the data from O2 and Vodafone that can be trusted no matter how prettily it's displayed.

The boycott is justified on the grounds that Ofcom might lose its long-running appeal against the Information Commissioner's decision that it should share site locations in a machine-readable form (as a single database).

Back in 2007 T-Mobile argued that such a database would be invaluable to the competition, but then admitted that it hadn't itself bothered investing the thousand man hours that would be required to compile the data from existing sources. So Ofcom tried arguing that the database would be too useful to thieves and/or terrorists, a point now undermined by the fact they still appear in local planning documents - not to mention lack of endemic thefts/explosions from O2 and Vodafone sites that are still listed.

Even more inventive was the argument that given photons' lack of mass they can't be considered "emissions", and therefore have no need to be registered.

Basically the network operators will do anything they can to avoid handing over the data, which is still voluntary despite being recommended by the Stewart Report in 2000. That report argued that public disclosure was essential to allay health fears surrounding mobile phone usage.

So while O2, Vodafone and Three (and Airwave and Network Rail) provide three-monthly updates to the sitefinder database, Everything Everywhere steadfastly refuses to do so. So while it's good news that Ofcom is saving a fortune by using Google Maps to display site information, it would be much better news if that site information wasn't getting less accurate every day. ®

* Three has been in touch to tell us it always keeps Sitefinder updated, so any sites it shares with Everything Everywhere will be shown, though only Three's emissions will listed in the details.

Business security measures using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.