If you already have a wireless provider, you’re either happy with their coverage, or you’re not. If you’re shopping around for a new provider, you owe it to yourself to find out how their coverage is in the areas that you plan on using your phone.
That’s where things get tricky.
Unless you plan on going door-to-door, asking people in those areas what carrier they’re using, and what their signal strength is (which may get you a nice talking to by a uniformed officer of the law), you’re going to have to trust the coverage maps that are compiled and published by the very carriers that want your business. Of course, the fine print on those maps says that coverage isn’t guaranteed and is just an estimate, yadda, yadda yadda. In short, you don’t know.
pocketnow.com reader rahlquist (a new Captivate owner) recently contacted me with an app and service that aim to answer your “where do I have coverage” question by using actual data obtained by actual people in the actual area using actual phones — not “personas” that “should” be fairly representative of what a person “might” expect in and around that “area”. (If you can’t tell, I dislike legalese mumbo-jumbo that serves to mask the truth.)
According to their website, “Coverage Mapper is a crowd sourced cellular coverage mapper.” The app runs on your Android, collects signal data, ties that to your location, and sends it to their server.
The server then aggregates your data with that of other users to generate “accurate coverage maps … to give you a better idea of the coverage in areas you care about.”
Presently in beta, and only available for Android, Coverage Mapper is a work in progress, and only records data while your Android’s screen is on, but the data that it collects is actual, real-world information. It’s not filled with a bunch of “most” and “should” and “may” terminology, it’s the real deal.
If you want to help collect data, Coverage Mapper is available free in the Android Market. If you’re only interested in the coverage maps, head on over to their website.