Ofcom launches one-stop mobile coverage checker

13 August 2015

  • Check mobile operators’ coverage, wherever you are, indoors or outside
  • Help improve the coverage checker by telling Ofcom about your experience

People can now check their operator’s mobile phone coverage using a simple, powerful online tool launched by Ofcom today.

Ofcom’s Mobile Coverage Checker provides a single-stop for consumers and businesses across the UK to discover the quality of the mobile coverage in areas where they live and work, or somewhere they intend to move.

Users can zoom to a specific location on a UK map, or simply enter a place name or postcode, to receive data on coverage for each mobile network - down to 100 square metres. The map uses data provided by EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.

Consumers increasingly expect a reliable mobile service. The new map therefore shows where reliable coverage is likely to be available, whatever type of handset is used, using new research by Ofcom into the signal strength needed to provide a good consumer experience.

The map also takes account of the increasing shift from handsets with external aerials to smartphones with internal aerials, which can sometimes be less effective at picking a signal.

Each area has been ranked with a colour-coded system, with green showing the highest likelihood of mobile coverage and red the lowest. The map shows:

  • Voice and data coverage by mobile operator;
  • coverage inside and outside of buildings; and
  • topographical information allowing users to identify areas where there are natural obstructions to coverage, such as valleys and hills.

Helping to improve mobile coverage and quality of service are priority areas for Ofcom. The new map is designed to support consumers in choosing a service that best suits their needs, while promoting competition between mobile operators.

Ofcom is inviting users to check their coverage experience and leave feedback, which will help refine and improve the tool, with a new version expected in the autumn.

In related work, Ofcom is seeking to improve the process for switching between different mobile providers. Ofcom outlined possible options to achieve this in July, and will take this work forward in the coming weeks.

Steve Unger, Ofcom’s Chief Technology Officer, said: “Access to reliable mobile phone coverage used to be a ‘nice to have’. Now it’s essential to many people’s lives.

“We believe our map is the most comprehensive tool available to consumers and businesses to check mobile coverage. We’re encouraging people to feed back after using the map, so we can continue to improve its accuracy.”

mobile map screenshot

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1. Based on the Ofcom’s drive testing research conducted for last year’s Infrastructure Report, Ofcom identified that a signal level of at least -86dBm was needed to provide good 2G voice call coverage. This level was used to report on 2G mobile coverage levels in the report. Mobile operators use a lower (-93dBm) signal threshold to determine 2G voice call coverage. While it is possible to make calls at these lower signal levels, it is more likely from the drive test results to lead to consumers experiencing interrupted and/or dropped calls. While Ofcom’s most recent research supports the historic use of -86dBm for traditional phones, a more realistic threshold for modern smartphones is -81dBm.