Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/08/22/countryside_alliance_needs_allies_to_spot_not_spots/

No signal in Seascale? Countryside Alliance wants to hook you up

No really, hunting and fishing chaps want to help not-spot spotters

By Bill Ray

Posted in Mobile, 22nd August 2013 11:23 GMT

Taking a break from the promotion of bloodsports, rural campaign group the Countryside Alliance is looking for help mapping mobile phone not-spots in the hope of embarrassing operators into filling them.

The wax-jacket-wearing organisation is asking those who care about rural mobile coverage to install Root Metrics on their smartphone. The app, which records radio strength and GPS coordinates, comes from the eponymous US outfit which makes money analysing the collected data, but provides free coverage maps which the 'Alliance uses to highlight the holes.

The UK government is committed to spending £150m of taxpayers' cash on extending rural coverage, and while the Countryside Alliance is more associated with the right to kill things with dogs and/or guns, it also promotes a rural lifestyle which, these days, includes constant telephony.

The UK version of the Root Metrics app is more concerned with data speeds than voice connections, though it records the availability of both. It also measures tested connection speed, so is more accurate than the operators' numbers which are based on best-case scenarios.

Root Metrics sends out regular updates, pointing out (for example) that Edinburgh has faster mobile internet than Glasgow (which, given the demographic spread, we could have worked out), but more surprising is that Nottingham and Coventry have faster mobile internet than London once backhaul and contention issues are taken into account.

Root Metrics' business is all about scale - if they can get their app installed on enough handsets, to create enough data points, then their business will work in the UK as it does in the USA. To do that, however, it needs volunteers who feel they're contributing to something worthwhile.

Bolstering the business of an American company clearly doesn't cut it, but contributing to a database which will be used to lobby the government for better rural coverage just might, which is why the Countryside Alliance's initiative appeals. ®

Bootnote

For those wondering, Seascale is a village on the West Cumbrian coast.