BBC plans 3G coverage map with new app

Mobile map

The BBC launched a survey of the UK's 3G coverage today, hoping smartphone users will get involved by downloading a new app.

Developed by Epitiro, the app will record the level of signal on a phone before sending the data back off to researchers.

Once the BBC and Epitiro decide enough data has been collected, the pair will launch a map.

An Android app has been launched today so users can get involved immediately.

"The aim is then to plot the findings on a map which will be searchable by postcode. If we succeed, this should yield some interesting results," said BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.

"It could tell us, for instance, whether our mobile networks are capable of delivering broadband connectivity in parts of the country where the fixed line service is patchy, whether coverage across cities is consistently good, and whether some operators are supplying a better service than others."

The project is not without its flaws, however. Cellan-Jones admitted the app will only be made available for Android.

Given the significant number of iPhone users in the UK, as well as 3G enabled tablet owners, the project has some notable limitations and will not give a truly accurate reading of coverage.

Problems could also arise from the need for user involvement, but Cellan-Jones remained hopeful.

"Android is growing faster than any other mobile platform, and my bet is that users will be keen to take part."

IT Pro downloaded the Epitiro UK 3G Survey app, which is currently limited in interactivity. At the time of publication, all that was viewable was an image of the UK, with some notices running along the top bar.

Once more people have joined in, it should be possible to click through to certain areas to determine the quality of coverage.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.