Feeds

Tremble, operators: UK gets ACCURATE mobile coverage guide

Who is this stranger come to free us from your lying maps?

Website security in corporate America

A US company mapping mobile coverage has jumped the pond – nimbly bypassing the operators – and is now providing detailed UK coverage maps by combining professionally gathered data with cloud-sourced samples.

Root Metrics was set up in 2008 and has been happily plotting US network coverage since then, using researchers with standard handsets and smartphone apps downloaded by volunteers to create a hexagon map of the country showing what's available where. Now the hexagons have spread to Blighty, which the company sees as a staging post into Europe.

The business plan is to make money selling detailed reports to network operators and other interested parties. However the Google-maps-based coverage checker is free to use and shows actual reception of voice, messaging and data services as well as speed and reliability of the connection, and its backhaul.

That's in contrast to the network operators' maps which are calculated on expected reception based on cell sites and local topography, and often infuriatingly wrong as well as failing to register overloaded or badly back-hauled cells.

Root Metrics sends out researchers with standard handsets to measure reception, ensuring a decent spread of indoor and outdoor readings, but also provides iOS and Android apps which automatically or manually test network speed and quality to contribute to the mapping effort. In the US the focus was largely on voice and text, but the ubiquity of such services in the UK has allowed greater focus on the speed of data connections here.

So far only Hull has been properly mapped, but all the UK's major cities are sprouting data points, even if a few of them are slightly suspicious (the Verizon cell in Mayfair, and perhaps the availability of Sprint around the London Film Museum), but that's nitpicking - the vast majority of the data looks accurate.

In Hull it turned out that Three has the best data coverage, which shouldn't be surprising given how much emphasis the UK's smallest operator is putting on data these days, but being able to focus right down to street-corner level makes the maps from Root Metrics a good deal more useful than those from the operator, or the regulator.

Root Metrics will also be doing annual awards on the best network, and plans to start comparing handsets and tariffs in the future, once it's recognised as a decent source of impartial data. The model comes from JD Power and Associates, who fund the collection of customer-survey numbers though the sale of detailed analysis to the industry. Funnily enough, James David Power sits on the advisory board of Root Metrics.

It's not the hippy ideal of crowds freely sharing data between them, but the American operation is sustainable and there's no reason why the same model shouldn't work here – especially as LTE starts rolling out and network operators start shouting numbers which will need to be verified. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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
ISPs' post-net-neutrality world is built on 'bribes' says Tim Berners-Lee
Father of the worldwide web is extremely peeved over pay-per-packet-type plans
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names
Handbags at dawn over free content ad network's ID policy
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
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?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.