Ah, the mobile coverage map. With all your pretty shades of blue, yellow, pink, or red, you live to lie to us. This shade of blue means “Fair” coverage, but this slightly deeper shade of blue means “Good” coverage, what the hell does that mean? If you’ve shopped for a new mobile carrier, well ever, you’ve probably spent some time studying coverage maps that make an atlas seem like a Dr. Seuss book.
Mobile coverage maps found on carriers’ websites are derived from the carrier’s own data, which as anyone would guess, is going to do its best to paint the best scenario for its future customers. OpenSignal puts honesty into mobile coverage maps by using real-time, crowd-sourced data from mobile devices in use. The difference is undeniable.
For example, my current carrier (at least for the next 48 hours until my Verizon iPhone 5 arrives) is AT&T. Let’s take a look at the difference between what AT&T’s map shows for coverage and what OpenSignal’s map shows for coverage in my neighborhood. As you’ll notice, AT&T’s map is full of dark orange indicating “Best” coverage, but OpenSignal shows a very different (and more realistic in my experience) picture. In fact, although not pictured, according to OpenSignal, of the four major carriers, AT&T is ranked dead last in my area for network coverage. However, a future customer looking at AT&T’s map only and not checking OpenSignal would probably think completely different.
AT&T Coverage Map
OpenSignal is taking mobile coverage maps from the fiction section to the non-fiction section with the use of crowd-sourced, real-time data to make the most comprehensive mobile coverage map available. Through the use of its Android (and soon to be launched iOS) app collects anonymous data from smartphones to recreate an up-to-date, reliable coverage map.
OpenSignal has just announced they have received $1.3 million in seed funding from O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Passion Capital and Qualcomm Ventures. Two million people have already downloaded the OpenSignal Android application (Google Play link), and with an iPhone app coming soon, expect even better mobile coverage data upon its arrival. OpenSignal also announced a new third-party developer API for app developers to use in their own mobile applications.
While still in its early stages, if you’re ever looking to switch mobile carriers, OpenSignal is a great way to fact check the mobile carriers’ claims of network supremacy in your area.