The BBC’s ambitious plan to map mobile coverage across the UK

The BBC’s ambitious plan to map mobile coverage across the UK

BBC has announced an ambitious crowdsourcing project which seeks to map-out mobile phone coverage across the UK.

The British broadcaster is seeking the help of the public to download the free UK 3G Survey app, which measures the signal strength as a user moves around. The one major limitation with this project is that the app is only available for Android handsets at present. However, the purpose of the project is to determine signal strength, so as long as they get a wide enough spread of Android users on board, then this shouldn’t make too much of a difference.

Once you install the app, which is now available in the Android Market, it runs in the background, wherever you go, analyzing the signal you’re getting and sends that data back. It will also show you on a graph how much time you’ve spent on different signal strengths:

The BBC’s Technology Correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, says:

“The various phone networks do put up their own coverage maps on their websites, but there’s no one single map with all the coverage.”

And this is what the BBC’s project aims to do – to get a clearer picture of mobile phone coverage around the country and when the project is complete, the aim is to plot the findings on a map and make them searchable by postcode.

We’ve written before about the UK’s m-commerce ‘not-spots’, with research showing that 16% of the UK has at least a fifth less mobile-spending than the average across the country due to 3G black-spots. And last month, we reported on a study being carried out by researchers at Cambridge University, with a special ‘Device Analyzer’ app developed to help them understand key aspects of mobile phone usage, such as how often people charge their phones, numbers and lengths of phone calls and texts, which applications they use, which networks they are connected to and other details.

OpenSignalMaps is another similar initiative to the BBC’s project, and it is currently building a comprehensive database of mobile phone towers, cell phone signal strength readings, and WiFi access points around the world.

Here’s Rory Cellan-Jones explaining a bit more about the BBC’s UK 3G Survey:

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