Published: August 24, 2011
BBC study exposes patchy 3G mobile data coverage in Burnham

The patchy nature of 3G mobile data coverage in the Burnham-On-Sea area has been exposed this week by a major new BBC study.

Despite operator claims of high 3G coverage, there are still many so-called 'notspots' in the Burnham and Highbridge area, according to the map, where no coverage is available.

The BBC gathered the data last month by inviting people to download a mobile phone app that collated the 3G coverage their handsets were getting. 44,600 volunteers took part and testing firm Epitiro has analysed some 1.7 million hours worth of data from across the UK.

The map - which can be accessed here - displays a green blob to indicate where 3G coverage is accessed, purple for slower 2G coverage, grey blobs for no coverage and clear areas indicate no data.

The map at the top of this page shows merged coverage from all the operators, but the results suggest that the performance of different operators varies enormously across the Burnham area.

While the M5 motorway appears to be well covered by 3G, large swathes of Burnham and Highbridge appear not be covered by major operators like O2 (shown on the smaller map above).

Mobile coverage has become a huge issue as people rely increasingly on their smartphones to surf the web and send email, as well as making phone calls.

"The BBC's crowd-sourcing survey is well beyond any scale seen by the mobile industry in this country or any other," said Gavin John, chief executive of Epitiro. "Over 44,000 volunteers participated with 42 million locations tested from every county in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For the first time consumers have the means to see 3G coverage precisely where they live, work and travel."

O2 said it "welcomed the crowd sourcing experiment", but added that more detail - for example signal quality - would have been useful while Three said it was concerned that the picture painted by the map was driven as much by the number of people from each operator taking part as by actual coverage.

What's your opinion? Should 3G data coverage be improved in the Burnham-On-Sea area? Contact us here with your views

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