Network Coverage

By Mobile coverage we mean :

  • Where you can pick up a mobile signal
  • The strength of that signal
  • If it offers 2G or the latest 3G services.

The availability of  mobile services is a very hot topic.

Many action groups are fighting to get faster speeds to help local businesses and the general community thrive.

Simple Coverage checks

Below are the current links to the major mobile operator’s coverage web pages.

http://www.vodafone.co.uk/vodafone-uk/personal-coverage/index.htm

http://www.o2.co.uk/coveragechecker

http://search.orange.co.uk/ouk/portal/coveragechecker.html

http://www.three.co.uk/Support/Coverage

Reality

The way coverage information is displayed varies between operators. Take your time to understand exactly what they are telling you.

In my case, the coverage information given by my operator does conflict with the service I receive, as marketing hype and reality clash.

The alternative method for you to understanding coverage is to actually see where your local masts are located and who operates them.

Ofcom’s site below does that:

http://www.sitefinder.ofcom.org.uk/search

On the Ofcom site you will see:

  • Operator/s
  • Frequency

The key is the frequency

  • UK 2G services run in the frequency band 900-1800MHz.
  • High speed 3G services the frequency range is set around the 2100Mhz band.

Ofcom also provides http://maps.ofcom.org.uk/ based on information from the communications providers.

Then combine that information with  http://www.opensignalmaps.com

This site maps actual service reports from real customers on a geographically and operator basis. Their August 2011 report is a very revealing read.

 http://opensignalmaps.com/reports/uk-august-2011.php

No Coverage

The section 3G  Overview ‘ describes how the whole service works, but  think of each Mast as providing access to the mobile network over a geographical area(service footprint ) surrounding that Mast.

 

Each Mast overlaps slightly with one or more neighbouring Masts.

This overlapping effect means that a mobile service is maintained as you move.

There are locations where no Footprint/Service is available and hence you have No Coverage.

As for what the signal bars mean on a mobile phone, no one knows as there is no common standard and hence it is up to the individual manufacturer.

2G and 3G Services

Whilst all operators push a 3G service to their customers, coverage is clearly not universal and is more typically found in the major cities and towns.

 

Whilst 2G has a data element it is much slower than 3G.

Ofcom are considering using the FM radio frequency range(freed up when digital radio arrives) to offer better rural services.

Better out than in

Basic physics dictate that brickwork acts as a barrier to any signal and hence reduces reception.

Many fail to realise that Building Regulations mean most modern houses have foil lined insulation blocks, which act as a great barrier to our high frequency phone signal.

Femtocells

Femtocells are small mobile base stations that connect to your existing broadband service boosting the mobile coverage especially inside buildings or homes.

So for business with mobile connections issues(and suitable broadband) femtocells make sense, however many argue that they are paying twice, once for the service(which is not good enough) and then again for a femtocell booster.

However the latest twist is ‘Open-femto’ where the Mobile operator rents its own broadband and attaches femtocells to telegraph poles etc. The ‘Open’ nature of the service means any customers can access the mobile service. The goal is to reduce the number of Not-Spots in an Operators UK coverage.

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