In the United States, one of the biggest considerations when selecting a smartphone is what carrier works best in your area — not which phone best suits your needs. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the state of cellular networks in the US today.
What’s the best way to know what carrier provides the best coverage for where you need to use it? After all, you’ll need good coverage at home, at work, at school, and any other places that you frequent.
Do you look at the coverage maps provided by the carrier that wants to sign you up for a two-year contract? Of course they’re going to make their coverage areas look good. They even go as far as printing in very small letters that coverage is “estimated” or “not guaranteed”. It’s almost like they’re embarrassed about their actual coverage. (Perhaps they should be, but I digress.)
A new app is hoping to change all that. Users like you and I can install the Carrier Coverage application on our smartphones and every few minutes (or more if you’d like) the app checks your location and signal strength. It tallies all that up into a nice little report, and sends it off to Carrier Coverage.
All of this is done in the open with you, the end-user, being able to opt-in to whatever reporting you’re comfortable with. The more people that run the app, the more data points are collected and real coverage maps begin to appear.
One downside: currently the app only runs on non-rooted phones, which is a shame because it’s us power-users that are perhaps more likely to run this kind of app. Luckily the makers of the app have changed their stance on rooted devices and plan on releasing an updated version within the next week or so which will welcome us “rooties” to the party.