Ofcom drafts in public to build mobile coverage maps

The application will automatically log data from Android devices

Ofcom has launched an initiative to crowdsource mobile coverage maps, helping consumers make a decision about which network they should choose.

The regulator is inviting Android mobile users to download the Ofcom Mobile Research Android app, which will automatically log app use, voice call reliability, signal strength, location and data speeds.

The data will then be used to perform a detailed comparison of mobile phone providers, which will be launched in 2017. This data will then be used to create more detailed coverage maps than Ofcom already offers consumers.

"Our research aims to build an independent benchmark for both consumers and industry," said an Ofcom representative. "It will help mobile customers make purchasing and switching decision, and will be used to enhance Ofcom's mobile coverage maps and consumer research."

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The application won't be available for iPhones or other iOS devices because Ofcom says there are too many other apps that will interfere with the data it needs to collect.

Any data collected is anonymised, so Ofcom won't be able to track you down, nether will it be used by other companies to target you with marketing or be available for authorities to use against you.

However, when launching the app, you will be asked your age group, gender, occupation, postcode and home broadband availability.

"Ofcom takes data protection very seriously. Therefore, all users' data will be completely anonymised. Ofcom is working with a technical partner on the project - P3 Communications," Ofcom wrote in the announcement.

"P3 has experience of collecting anonymised data for public companies - such as the Germany railway network, Deutsche Bahn, for which it helped develop a mobile coverage app. Data will be anonymised and P3 and Ofcom will ensure the data collected is not attributable to any individuals. Participants can opt out of the research at any time by simply uninstalling the app."

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