Finding the Not-Spots

BBC Uses Crowdsourcing to Map the UK's Signal Coverage

The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones appeared on TV yesterday morning to promote an initiative to measure 3G network coverage across the UK. He unveiled an application for Android phones that continuously records signal strength and sends the results back to its developer, Epitiro. The BBC and Epitiro hope to use the findings to produce a postcode-level map of mobile coverage in the UK.

Mobile network operators are already obliged to provide the UK regulator, Ofcom, with details of signal coverage and strength. But they're not keen to divulge this information, as it might identify weak spots in their infrastructure and help competitors. Their own coverage maps sometimes don't reflect what to expect in a given village or street. Ofcom has a poor track record of publishing detailed data, though this appears to be changing. In 2010 it commissioned Epitiro to measure mobile broadband speeds in the UK, and the BBC's survey can been seen as an extension of this work.

I do wonder what's prompted the BBC to get involved. The broadcaster is a major provider of digital content — its iPlayer TV catch-up service accounts for a significant proportion of Internet traffic in the UK — but it has little control over this distribution medium. It holds spectrum licences for broadcast frequencies, and it's part of a consortium looking at the use of "white space" spectrum for mobile networks. But currently the BBC's at the mercy of Internet service providers and telecom companies when it comes to distribution of its content over the Internet. Indeed, it's come under fire for using Internet infrastructure without contributing to its upkeep. Critics claim that iPlayer can clog up a network to the detriment of other users. As more and more Internet traffic shifts to bandwidth-constrained mobile networks, the arguments can only get more heated.

Perhaps the survey will find, among other things, that the problem isn't simply one of bandwidth. Of course, signal strength and bandwidth are related functions in the complex calculations of network coverage, but if your local base-station isn't providing a 3G signal, the amount of bandwidth you need for streaming video becomes largely irrelevant.

I'm looking forward to the results of the survey. It may reveal some uncomfortable truths about 3G coverage in the UK, and even push some providers to speed up plans to improve their networks.

This entry was posted on July 19th, 2011 and is filed under Services. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Posted By Robert Caunt On July 19th, 2011


Comments
(There are no comments yet)
Leave a Comment

Hot News

Team Tweets

CCS Insight
More deals by @Alipay will help Chinese travellers spend money in Europe and support its goal of 2 billion users https://t.co/8myjdX2H5x
Follow CCS Insight
Shaun Collins
RT @kestermann: The latest @CCSInsight Hotline is a critique of O2 Home and a review of the wider connected home market in the UK: https://…
Follow Shaun
Ben Wood
The Global Virtual Reality Association is a who's who of key players in VR. Interested to see how it evolves.… https://t.co/6jCF251gWg
Follow Ben
Martin Garner
At last authorities getting tough on crappy #IoT devices for privacy/security: https://t.co/zsC9R8YGy8. I saw Cayla… https://t.co/VUGPdaTYNF
Follow Martin
Geoff Blaber
@sdrakemobile @redhatmobile thanks Steve. @nickmcquire warrants some kudos for the Apple prediction in that piece :)
Follow Geoff
Nicholas McQuire
@lsherloc thanks for sharing!
Follow Nicholas
Paolo Pescatore
Punchy offer from #SaltMobile. Shaking up the Swiss market. Expect the same if & when it decides to move into fixed… https://t.co/MvpmBTvtKR
Follow Paolo
Marina Koytcheva
@hsorrell Sorry only saw your message this morning at 9.
Follow Marina
Kester Mann
The latest @CCSInsight Hotline is a critique of O2 Home and a review of the wider connected home market in the UK:… https://t.co/LZX3Xqgv8R
Follow Kester
George Jijiashvili
RT @benwood: Wow. Great HTC Vive Black Friday / Cyber Monday deal. £100 discount. @htcvive https://t.co/ichPmK3fVJ
Follow George
Katie Taylor
Pfizer fined record £84.2m for overcharging NHS https://t.co/uYCM6GUxUi
Follow Katie

Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post
Alipay Expands into Europe The Payment Service Taps into Chinese Overseas Travellers ... Read more
Blog Post
Moto Takes a Breather Lenovo Turns Away from Smartwatches The Moto 360 was one of... Read more
Blog Post
MediaTek Unveils Auto Ambitions The Automotive Chipset Space Heats Up As cars become smart ... Read more
More blog

Latest Company News

Blog Post
The Mobile Phone Market Has Peaked   Shipments hit a plateau of about 2 billion units a year ... Read more
More news