back to article Measure for measure: Why network surveys don't count what counts

If you can't measure something, does it actually exist? That's a question raised by Dr Paul Carter, founder of the oldest mobile network performance operation, GWS. Carter's company has been doing labour-intensive drive-testing of the networks for over 20 years, which is not cheap, but it is thorough. The more rigorous, …

  1. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I have terrible coverage on EE where i live, I can move my phone 6 inches and go from a good signal to poor, and this is in the suburbs of a large city not some out of the way rural area and their is a mast on the railway line within line of sight of my front door (although no idea if it is an EE mast)

    So i mostly rely on the home Wi-Fi when using my phone indoors as I get good WI-FI signal all over my house thanks to reusing an only D-link router with DDWRT as a wireless repeater.

    1. Mike Pellatt

      It's not "terrible coverage" that you're suffering from. It's the Laws of Physics, Jim.

      In this case, radio propagation. The idea that coverage can be achieved in every single cubic centimetre of a city is Total Bollocks (tm) (1). With far fewer massive solid objects to reflect the waves and cause multipathing, you could perhaps get closer to that in rural areas. But there, of course, there aren't enough base stations and the issues become signal strength and line of sight rather than multipathing.

      (1) Ob. Peter Cochrane - unless we'd put fibre into every home with NTEs that were also pico-cells.

  2. A-nonCoward

    now I get it

    why in the US cellphone ads are all about "speed" and streaming...

    and voice calls sound like a tin box...

  3. Korev Silver badge

    The most important network function people want in the UK – and we gave them a long list – is making voice calls. 69 per cent of people want that. Texting is important for 53 per cent of people, and the web third, with 43 per cent.

    In the days of Skype, WhatApp etc. aren't people forgetting that the "web" is the most important criterion for reliability for many people?

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Of course they might change their mind suddenly if they need to call the Police etc

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      I don't find the web to be most important for me. My primary web use case is e-mail, which doesn't take much data. Even those who upload a lot of photos won't need consistent bandwidth. In my case, if my data gets killed, then I have to wait to read my email until I'm in WiFi range. It could be annoying if I'm on the road for a long time, but that rarely happens and I can almost always wait. If I can count on being able to have a voice conversation that doesn't drop out and where people can hear what I'm saying, and that my text messages will arrive without being forgotten, then my main uses for my phone's wireless capabilities have been met. For those who use online apps more often, or for those who actually stream on data plans, the factors are undoubtedly different. For me, it's not that critical.

  4. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Try including the "not-spots"

    Many places in the Scottish Highlands have NO mobile service. (let alone data!!!)

    In the largest town on the Isle of Skye (Portree) there are many dead zones with no coverage on any network (i.e. not even emergency calls). To make a mobile to mobile call there requires that you are in a zone with mobile coverage - and then hope that the person that you are calling is also in such a zone.

    For people in such areas, phone calls and texts are important - video and data are completely unimportant (as they are never available). (Text is often more important than phone calls as a text message can be sent and the picked up when the recipient is in a zone with mobile coverage.)

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Try including the "not-spots"

      Portree is a *good* spot for my father: from his croft at Struan he can get signal only if he climbs on the roof and hangs on to the chimney. And at pushing ninety, he's a tad old for that... that my parents have to use hand-held radios so one can be informed - if not in the room - that the land line is ringing is rather sad. The only time I can call them on the mobile is when they're in Portree.

      I, on the other hand, work five miles from Cambridge - allegedly the technological hub of the country - and I have, er, no signal. Nor much of one all the way down the A428 until I get to the A1.

      I don't ask much. Like the bulk of the users questioned in the survey the primary function I want from a phone is the ability to make calls. And that requires some signal. (Which is why, on occasion, I have asked this question after Register phone reviews: how well does it work to make calls?)

  5. chivo243 Silver badge

    double something....

    "Clearly data services are not unimportant

    Clearly data services are important?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: double something....

      You're positing that "important" and "unimportant" are binary qualities with do not overlap, nor permit any alternative "indifferent" status between them? I beg to differ.

  6. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

    He'd have far more credibility if his opinions matched with my real-life observations.

    People don't care about voice quality because if that's not there but data is available, they'll use skype or whatsapp or FB messenger to instigate a VoIP call.

    Also, 3 simply cannot be rated as top for anything when simply straying 3ft away from a large town means you have no signal. If the stats are "quality where signal present", that's a useless metric because lack of coverage will improve those stats.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      Real life experiences

      Say it with me now: "The plural of anecdote is not 'data.'"

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