Poor mobile phone coverage when you’re out in the sticks is a perennial complaint, particularly when it’s with a 3G signal required for mobile internet access. Mobile phone operator coverage maps don’t tell the whole story and not even Ofcom’s recent mobile broadband speed test survey painted a completely accurate picture for coverage across the whole of the UK,

So, the BBC has decided to conduct its own speed tests using a ‘crowd sourced’ solution — by getting us to do the testing, in other words.

The testing relies upon Android smartphone users installing a free app that records the device’s signal strength and feeds the data back to the BBC, along with the GPS-located position.

The BBC will collect the data for about a month and then collate it into a database that’s searchable by postcode in order to give a more accurate portrayal of mobile phone coverage, A clickable map will also show how coverage varies from area to area — assuming enough people take part in the tests, that is.

For technical reasons, the UK 3G Survey app is only available for Android smartphones, which will limit the scope of the tests, but it’s a starting point, at least. The free app is available for download from the Android market.

[BBC News]