back to article Ofcom gives shonky Sitefinder Google Maps boost

Ofcom has finally overhauled its Sitefinder database, overlaying the data on Google Maps and saving a fortune - though that data is getting less complete and more inaccurate every day. The new version of Sitefinder was launched last week, proving a welcome relief from its previous archaic interface which some suspected was …


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  1. Peter Galbavy

    Don't arm the consumer

    The *real* reason for not handing over the data for fear of publication and reuse is that the paying consumer will get more information in helping make informed choices about who to hand over money to.

    Imagine having access to an independent coverage map to help you decide if you can move from one crappy network to another in the four common locations you spend time in (office, home, pub, girlfriend ... whatever) ?

    It's not really in the network operators interest to reveal how poor they actually are. Especially with the Nothing Nowhere consolidation going on...

    1. James Hughes 1


      Interestingly, 02 do provide information - and their reception around here is woeful.

      Perhaps the providers should consider the fact that more people may choose them IF they provide the information.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Consumer Choice

        If Ofcom had any sense they would spend some cash advertising this site as the definitive, independent source of coverage information. If they push it hard enough then people will start using it to choose their network. As it stands most people don't even know it exists.

        If Ofcom can get people to use it then what's going to happen? Revenues will go down for Nothing Anywhere and they will start to provide the information.

    2. David Beck

      I don't think they know

      I'm sitting in my house with a "6 bar 3.5G" signal on my E52. This on T-Mobile. If I do a "Check your Street" at the T-Mobile site I apparently have no 3.5G at all, and a very poor 3G. This situation has been the case for about a year now. So I suspect T-M aren't supplying the info because they have no idea where they have signal and where they don't. They are certainly not overstating the case on their own signal maps.

      This doesn't say the backhaul is any good, just the reported signal. The 5MB test file at Thinkbroadband takes 10-12 seconds to d/l. That translates to roughly 3-4Mb which suggests the backhaul is clear but I live on the edge of a small town and wouldn't expect the service to be congested.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    So really...

    ..we can look forward to the time when the fourth operator can be referred to as Nothing Anywhere then?


  3. Anonymous Coward

    What is the problem?!

    So they must have the OSGB co-ordinates or every point stored in DB or at least an Excel sheet somewhere ( I assume! ), these must be updated as required by the techs who work at these telecoms companies, so WTF is the problem with running an extract every 24 hours and sending the OSGB dumps to OFCOM's techs to import into the plotting DB?

    Oh yes, then we'd have disclosure of information and Joe Public would know stuff. Oh no, we can't have the ordinaries knowing stuff that they're entitled to!

  4. Dawid Lorenz

    Silly that is

    Few years back Ofcom's equivalent in Poland has publicly released full database of all official permissions they gave to network operators to build their sites - GPS coordinates included. Funny thing is that there are lot of cases where permission has been issued to the operator but site has not been built (yet). Having said that, we now have pretty good community-made Google Maps mashup visualising both existing and *planned* base station sites - all conveniently for free. - although site is Polish, clicking through the map using English-speaking mice should suffice.

    Now, that is in Poland, so I am quite surprised that Ofcom here in the UK still has problem with a) enforcing operators to share their station locations; b) releasing all that data free. And btw, EE (or NN rather) arguments are, well... silly at best. Base stations aren't just invisible or hidden somewhere deep underground so both thieves and/or terrorists should have no hassle robbing/exploding their gear without a map, right?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      re: english speaking mice

      that one got a laugh.

  5. James Hughes 1

    New site is a PITA

    There are so few transmitters in our area that nothing appears at our postcode, so you zoom out, and it says it doesn't display them at that zoom level. So you have to zoom back in again then pan around to try and find the nearest transmitter. A right PITA.

    They need to display a lesser zooms to make it easier to find base cells. Once you do find one, the data provided is pretty good though.

  6. Shonko Kid

    Crowd Source it

    Given that by their very nature these things are fixed, and broadcast their identity, how hard is it really for anyone to build their own database of them?

    I really don't think the information can be all that 'invaluable' to the competition after all.

  7. JaitcH

    Make it a condition of installing a transmitter

    For the country that controlled every emitter above infra-red things have come to a pretty sad state of affairs. Way back we used to to joke the only thing you didn't need a licence for was semaphore flags and flashing torches.

    Most countries require cell sites to be registered within 39 days of their installation. What happens when a frequency oscillator goes wonky and need to eliminate transmitters by turning them off sequentially.

    Admittedly they are relatively low power but signal interference can extend for many miles.

    The company I work for has 5-watt VHF portable transceivers but we still have to register their approximate location.

    The local cell carriers have cell sites mounted in 4-wheel drive vehicles for special events to bump up channel counts and they, too, require notification to spectrum management authorities.

  8. Barrie Shepherd

    Missed opportunity

    OFCOM missed an opportunity – they should have paid Google Street View to record the sites along with the locals WiFi. Everything they needed could have been collected. Mind you I thought OFCOM (radio investigation branch) had some pretty nifty frequency scanner/traingulators of their own.

  9. HollyHopDrive

    I get really hacked off....

    I get really hacked off with large companies just not doing that they are told to do. I know, technically they are not obliged, but the fact they just say no. Start a court case and get out of it for whatever reason.

    And as for not having a database of the info. Thats just rubbish because how would they monitor and send engineers to equipment.

    I'm also sick of Gov. organisations with no teeth. Why isn't the law just, if its not on the map, its not turned on. If it is, 1 very big fine which is outragiously large and disporportaional to the actual offence.

    Mobile companies need to stop resisting everything (roaming charges, termination charges) and just be a bit more modern.

    And if anybody from t-mobile is reading this, your service sucks and when my stupid contract expires (damn those 24 month contracts) I'm off to somebody who can provide some coverage. Did orange make you turn off 70% of your transmitters? (Which would explain the not having a map of the ones left on.)

    Right, I'm off to sit in a darkened room until my blood pressure returns to normal.....

  10. b-a-r-k-i-n-g-m-a-d

    'no teeth'

    Know what you mean about 'no teeth' - they should be made to turn off any transmitter NOT listed.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Everything Everywhere.....

    Quite how they can claim they don't have the information in an easily dumped database is beyond me, as someone has already pointed out how do they send people out to fix broken sites without addresses and directions for their engineers?

    Also how on earth can they offer a coverage checker on their website if they don't have a system of plotting the location of their sites (see and

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ask google.

    I'm sure they had a handset from each vendor jacked into a computer in each car of their googlemaps fleet.

    Of course you'd have to sign a legally binding agreement not to sue them after receiving the data.

  13. CallumUK

    Orange and T-Mobile are a pile of sh*t

    I didn't go with T-Mobile because they didn't provide information.

    It really pisses me off this corporate boycott. Why can't ofcom just rule that they HAVE to give data. Why must they just stand next to them stroking T-Mobile on the shoulder and maybe suggesting that they should provide data, "but only if you want to, mind"

    Ofcom is the regulator and the operators should do as they are bloody told.

    I live opposite a block of flats and i've watched the roof slowly fill up with transmitters. But according to Ofcom there's nothing there. My Blackberry is showing -37 dBm on Orange which is really high, I went to my parents house and full signal was -66 dBm, baring in mind that the larger the number the higher the power. My friend's house is -96 dBm which is 3 bars. Basically my house is in the fry zone and yet the map says my nearest transmitter is the Three mast 500 metres down the road.

    Wouldn't it be funny if the Orange mast, were to break? He he he

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