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BBC needs your help to map out UK's 3G coverage

The BBC is trying to build a map of the UK's mobile network coverage. You can take part by downloading an Android app that monitors your location and signal strength.

The BBC is trying to map out the UK's mobile network coverage, by asking people with an Android phone to install an app that will send back data on how good their 3G signal is.

The app is called UK 3G Survey, and it's been built by a company called Epitiro, which will also be in charge of collating the data that's harvested, and sending info back to the Beeb. The survey will take place over the next month.

The aim is to build a comprehensive and accurate map of our fair nation's coverage, highlighting where a decent signal is to be found, and which areas have fewer bars than an open prison.

Networks like O2 and Orange already provide these kinds of maps, but an independent map, based on real people's signals, would be much more useful.

The app runs in the background, and keeps track of your location and how much signal you've got at any one time. The BBC's terms of engagement message (which you can examine yourself by clicking the download link on the BBC story) says the app uses very little bandwidth 'as it reports on data already present on the phone through its normal background communications with the network'. But those terms also state that the BBC has not made any enquiries or research in relation to this.

The BBC isn't the first to try something like this. Opensignalmaps.com already has a user-built map that does the same sort of thing, and it also offers an accompanying Android app so you can help build up the data.

Currently, the Epitiro app is only available for Android phones, which is a shame. If an iPhone app could make it through Apple's approval process in the next week or so, then Auntie could benefit from a much bigger sample size.

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