Feeds

Tremble, operators: UK gets ACCURATE mobile coverage guide

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

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
EE fails to apologise for HUGE T-Mobile outage that hit Brits on Friday
Customer: 'Please change your name to occasionally somewhere'
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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?