Network maps could keep telcos honest

Summary:Vodafone has this week released a coverage checker tool on its website that shows the quality of signal that customers can expect in their area, and it's a good start.

Vodafone has this week released a coverage checker tool on its website that shows the quality of signal that customers can expect in their area, and it's a good start.

Vodafone coverage

(Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)

In the latest move to address concerns over the telco's network issues and to tout its network upgrades, Vodafone has released a new coverage tool. The tool aims to show the quality of call and 3G data services across the country, with bars graphing signal strength based on whether you're indoors or outdoors.

Of no great surprise is that the best coverage for Vodafone appears to be in the capital cities, as I would expect it to be for any telco — it's where their highest concentration of customers would be.

What surprised me most was how little coverage extends beyond the city centres. Although, given Australia's geographically-dispersed population, it does make sense. Comparing the New South Wales coverage with the fibre footprint for the NBN roll-out (below) shows a fairly similar picture — and the NBN fibre network will reach 93 per cent of the population.

NBN map

(Credit: NBN Co)

Optus and Telstra have coverage maps on their websites, too, though neither use Google. It would be excellent for the telcos to feed their coverage information into a Google maps app like Vodafone has. Or better yet, to provide the data as open source for some enterprising developer to put together a true and accurate coverage map for all of the telcos across Australia.

If the information is kept accurate and up to date, it has the potential to shift some the competition between the carriers from which telco has the best price to which telco has the best coverage in your local area.

In a time when the telcos are under intense pressure for how their networks cope with consumer demand for 24 hour availability of both voice and data coverage, this sort of added functionality will only encourage them to get their acts together and keep their networks in line with demand.

Topics: Telcos

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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