Signal Strength

The mobile phone signal strength is the most critical test we undertake. Where there is no phone signal you can't make calls or call simply drop out. Mobile phone signal strength is measured by your phone constantly. The Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) is captured in dBm and consolidated into the 5 bars on the top of your screen. With the Mobile Coverage App the results are amplified into a pin colour and number representing the signal strength. Where the signal is zero, a black spot is registered. The remaining 31 bands are broken into 1-10 (red shades) as the Low Signal Range, 11-20 (blue shades) as the mid signal range representing the middle of the spectrum and finally the 21-31 (green shades) representing the high signal range and the strongest signals possible.As the testing vehicle drives we capture signal strength measures ever 50 to 100 metres.

Over a 500klm test drive we can capture between 5,000 and 10,000 markers for each carrier. With as many as 30,000 markers showing qualitative results, we can esaily highlight network strengths and weakenesses.

The results for an area are then exported to Google Earth and review every signal strength result against the network and the carrier coverage maps. We then prepare blackspot coverage maps to highlight where there is no service or where the service is so weak that a call is likely to be dropped. With this information our clients are then able to easily identify local priority locations. Discussions with carriers regarding future invetment priorities become informed and proactive.

Why is testing signal strength important?
We look at mobile phone and mobile internet coverage in terms of which side of the digital divide your area is. We regularly use the figure below as a lens to help assess the current status of a region and set targets for prioritising investment.

Signal strength is the best indicator of how successful you will be making a mobile call. The carriers have coverage maps online for their respective networks. The Digital Economy Group Mobile Coverage App tests all three networks at the same time with matching equipment that a typical user has. This way the testing is a real world user experience. This information is then exported onto a Google Earth Map and the signal strength of the three carriers compared. We then synthesize the results into colour coded lines showing where the Blackspots are and which Carrier(s). Clients then have an independently generated evidence base to discuss with the carriers and seek investment in their region.

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We can see the Signal Strength results on the screen in the app, then when exported to Google Earth the blackspots are clear to see, we translate these into priority areas for our clients.