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
Smart toy Cozmo by @anki, complete with an "emotion engine", shows how far artificial intelligence has come https://t.co/z0eG7eXfQR
Follow CCS Insight
Shaun Collins
RT @BTBusiness: "In order to keep up with every changing technology you need to have trusted partners". @shauncollins @ccsinsight https://t…
Follow Shaun
Ben Wood
@HeathrowAirport This is T5. About 1p mins ago.
Follow Ben
Martin Garner
RT @imbadatlife: Brexit in a single gif. https://t.co/HBQKT6FwLI
Follow Martin
Geoff Blaber
RT @sherifhanna: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a formal timeline for 5G standardization! June 2018 is freeze date for 5G New Radio. https:/…
Follow Geoff
Nicholas McQuire
The #CASB market is consolidating before it gets moving. A good move & combo w #Meraki > @Cisco to buy @Cloudlock https://t.co/bM7tmFUfKw
Follow Nicholas
Paolo Pescatore
Credit @orange. Great coverage during #ITAESP. Chatting about game with friends back home #feelathome #EURO2016 https://t.co/OvC6QNliMz
Follow Paolo
Marina Koytcheva
VR/AR the largest value contributor to the £1bn+ wearables market in the UK in 2020. @CCSInsight's latest forecast: https://t.co/eM3fPihEW4
Follow Marina
Kester Mann
For a full in-depth analysis of the UK enterprise market, message me or contact @CCSInsight
Follow Kester
Jasdeep Badyal
RT @benwood: CCS Insight's take on Xiaomi's deal with Microsoft https://t.co/DX4nSKDCI4 "Patents alone won't assure success" https://t.co/8…
Follow Jasdeep
George Jijiashvili
If you missed it, here's my take on VR announcements at the #E32016 [https://t.co/9WZId7TU6D] #VR #wearables https://t.co/4wXJcdbdry
Follow George
Rebecca Morley
Daily Insight: UK Business Telecom Market Undergoes Rapid Transformation: https://t.co/SRpMPAC7Qt
Follow Rebecca
Katie Taylor
Multiple Sclerosis could be reversed with calorie-restricted diet, study suggests https://t.co/Ak4mJh3mSI
Follow Katie

Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post
Meet Cozmo, "the Coolest Robot Ever" Artificial Intelligence in a Plaything Artificial intellige... Read more
Blog Post
Chinese Regulators Tighten Rules for Search Engines New Regulations Will Make Baidu a Government Watchdog Last ... Read more
Blog Post
UK Business Telecom Market Undergoes Rapid Transformation EE Helps Shake Up Sector Once Dominated by Vodafone and O2 ... Read more
More blog

Latest Company News

Blog Post
UK Wearables Sales to Reach Five Million Units in 2016 1.7 million fitness trackers to be sold this year ... Read more
More news