.net programming, computers and assorted technology rants

Why Does My Cell Service Suck. Check OpenSignal

Courtesy Mark Gibbs, NetworkWorld.com

Whenever one of my friends calls me from the 118 just east of Somis her cell signal gets choppy then dies. Why? Go to OpenSignal and you can see why; according to their data there’s a stretch of several miles of road where cell service completely vanishes.

OpenSignal is a great tool for checking which carriers provide the best service in any given locale and their heat map display shows the signal strength data collected by crowdsourcing users of their eponymous iOS and Android app, OpenSignal.

The site lets you filter the data by coverage or towers and cell service type (any combination of 2G, 3G, and 4G) as well as by provider. The Web service also shows the percentage that the selected location is better or worse than the average city and similarly for worldwide average.

An OpenSignal cell service heatmap of Nairobi

The app shows the same data as the Web site plus it adds

  • a "signal compass" that shows you the direction your current signal is coming from
  • which carrier you are currently using and the connection quality
  • the WiFi network you’re connected to and the number f networks nearby (it can also show you a list of all nearby WIFi networks)
  • a Wi-FI map to locate nearby public networks.
  • a speed test feature allows you to see the true speed of your connection.
  • a stats page to track your cellular and Wi-Fi data usage

You can also share your findings on Twitter and Facebook and compare your connection with other users. To round all of that off, OpenSignal even provides an API so you can access and massage the data yourself.

This is a great service and one of the best ways to figure out why you, or your friends, have lousy cell service.


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