Carphone Warehouse wants to give you a better idea of which network will suit you by showing customers independent data on local coverage.
Getting an accurate idea of mobile coverage in your local area is particularly important right now, because the phone companies are still building their 4G networks, and 4G service may not have reached your neck of the woods yet. The last thing you want to do is commit to a lengthy and expensive contract only to discover that you won't be able to enjoy the service you hoped for simply because you can't get a signal in your neighbourhood.
So Carphone Warehouse has partnered up with RootMetrics, an independent company specialising in analysing mobile network performance. One of its major products is the CoverageMap app, which builds up a picture of phone signal across the nation with a combination of scientific tests and crowd-sourced samples from users.
Staff in Carphone Warehouse shops will use the app, helping customers see which network might suit them in their local area. Staff will be able to show customers data on the four major networks -- EE, O2, Three and Vodafone -- showing how reliable and speedy they are in a given area.
The app measures call performance, data download speed and upload speed. You can set the app to test quickly run a single test to check coverage where you are, or set it to run continuously for more thorough results. If you have an Android device, you can choose to run the test in the background and get on with using your phone as normal.
The results are then plotted on a coverage map, which RootMetrics claims gives you accurate information right down to individual streets.
Individual networks do provide coverage maps. But because data is gathered independently of the networks, RootMetrics should provide a more accurate picture of network performance than the promises made by the networks themselves.
The CoverageMap app is available for Apple iOS devices and Android devices. For more on coverage, including your rights if you're stuck with a sketchy signal, check out this guide by the telecom watchdog Ofcom.