Ofcom exposes true mobile coverage


Coverage Checker provides a place for consumers and businesses to receive data on coverage for each mobile network

Mobile operators in the UK have nowhere to hide dodgy network coverage any more, thanks to a new tool from UK regulator, Ofcom. Ofcom has launched a mobile coverage checking tool for Brits that want to discover the quality of a mobile service in an area they live or work in, or may be intending to move to.

Bringing together all the main UK mobile operators, Ofcom’s Mobile Coverage Checker provides a place for consumers and businesses across the UK to zoom to a specific location on a UK map, or enter a place name or postcode, to receive data on coverage for each mobile network. The service works down to 100 square metres and uses data provided by EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.

The map also takes into account the difference that internal aerials used in the vast majority of smartphones make to mobile service.

According to Ofcom, consumers increasingly expect a reliable mobile service and the new map shows where reliable coverage is likely to be available, whatever type of handset is used, based on new research by Ofcom into the signal strength needed to provide a good consumer experience.

Steve Unger, Ofcom’s chief technology officer, said: “Access to reliable mobile phone coverage used to be a ‘nice to have’. Now it’s essential to many people’s lives. We believe our map is the most comprehensive tool available to consumers and businesses to check mobile coverage. We’re encouraging people to feed back after using the map, so we can continue to improve its accuracy.”

The map shows: voice and data coverage by mobile operator; coverage inside and outside of buildings; and topographical information allowing users to identify areas where there are natural obstructions to coverage, such as valleys and hills.

Ofcom stated: “Helping to improve mobile coverage and quality of service are priority areas for Ofcom. The new map is designed to support consumers in choosing a service that best suits their needs, while promoting competition between mobile operators.”

Ofcom is asking users of the map to leave feedback on their experience to help refine the tool. The regulator will take this information into account and will publish a new map in autumn based on it.

Related to the coverage map, Ofcom is also looking at ways to improve the switching process between mobile providers. Ofcom outlined possible options to achieve this in July, and will take this work forward in the coming weeks.





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