In these modern days, we expect mobile coverage to be ubiquitous. The networks each advertise their networks as reaching "99% of the population" and not 99% of the country. Mobile mast sites are chosen where they can cover the widest area, and as such reach a larger number of potential subscribers. Coverage is "patchy" at best, please do not expect to receive full signal (and full services) everywhere.

Everything Everywhere

Everything Everywhere is a new company born from the merger of T-Mobile and Orange. Since mid-2011, Orange handsets can receive and use T-Mobile network signals, which has greatley extended coverage.

Your handset will connect to the Orange network first, however, if the signal is too weak and a stronger T-Mobile signal is available, your handset will connect to the T-Mobile network.

3G roaming allows your phone to receive and connect to 3G services via the T-Mobile signal as well as the Orange signal.

Overview of mobile coverage

The service you receive from the mobile network operators can vary widely. Information regarding coverage advertised by the operators on their website, and service you expect to receive often vary too.

So where can you go for a more independent view of mobile base station locations?

OFCOM provide a mobile site finder database which provides a fairly comprehensive overview of mobile masts.

However, the mobile operators are reluctant to provide this information in an efficent and timely manner. T-Mobile has bluntly refused to provide OFCOM with this information, and as T-Mobile is now part of Everything Everywhere, availability to the infomation may become even more difficult. EE are taking the case to the EU department of justice to fight to need to provide this information.

What do the industry watchers say? Cell Site Information EE Reluctance to share data Ofcom 3G speed test results

The mobile operators say that they all do provide the information, but it is only provided to 402 local authorities, no one else will be provided with the information. Many local authorities simply do not know what to do with this data, and access to it is not a simple or straight forward process.

Who else can provide mobile mast information?

Concerned citizens are setting up their own databases in a process known as "crowd sourcing". You may well be aware that iPhone and Android handsets keep thier own databases of cellular masts and Wifi access points. Groups such as "Crowdflow" for iPhone and "OpenSignalMaps" for Android handset, promote the sharing of the location databases in order to build their own "picture" of network availability.

The BBC also recently launched its own campaign which involved nearly 45,000 mobile user across the country to provide coverage information which was gained using an app on their smartphone. BBC interactive map

(Please note: Newcastle Univeristy can not accept any responsibility for content provided on other websites)

Until OFCOM are provided with complete mast information from mobile carriers, we all have to anaylse and correlate the information from multiple sources ourselves to determine the actual service you can expect to receive.

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