comparing UK HSDPA coverage
Way back, when I used to be a mobile phone man (in the days when there was only Cellnet and Vodafone) the constant battle for customers was all about coverage.
by the way a typical deal was £300 for the cellphone £25 a month and then 25p per minute peak 10p off peak ( Primetime for business customers ) no inclusive minutes and barely anyone used texts so I don’t remember the costs
Both companies had to reach a 99% population coverage by a certain time to maintain their licenses and there seemed to be a bit of a competition in areas to get a degree of exclusivity. Certain areas were always Vodafone and others Cellnet ( IIRC Vodafone used to edge it normally). The companies were also very precious about cell sites and that, and the specially relaxed planning regs for their kit, is the reason for the proliferation of antennae across our countryside.
My customers often used to buy based more on what worked where, than what the handset looked like and there actually used to be a preference for big old Motorolas over their slimmer rivals as the monsters worked more places and had a massive ariel ( Americans will know what one of these looks like on a cellphone as we’ve grown out of them over here ;) )
Anyway by the time I left the world of Mobiles behind, there were four players (0ne20ne Orange, Vodafone and Cellnet) and the coverage argument had died it’s death it was all about inclusive minutes and the beginning of value added services as the driver.
Recently I’ve been doing some work for a customer on a rapid deployment solution for areas that are difficult to get traditional comm’s into, the plan is to use HSDPA as a network connection and provide back link VPN to the office over the radio spectrum. we use HSDPA as a means to enable true flexible working as well as you can get speeds of up to 1.8 Mbps from a Cellular connection, truly independent working.
so, guess what? Coverage is back on the agenda, so I though it would be useful to summarise the HSDPA coverage claimed by the various MSPs.
Orange HSDPA Coverage:
Orange HSDPA coverage doesn’t actually feature separately on their coverage map as they don’t have a UK wide service, they call it Orange 3G+ (probably the best product name) and according to their website they ‘ have launched 3G+ in London and will soon be bringing it to the UK’s other major cities‘ their overall coverage claim is that they have the largest integrated 3/2.5G network in the UK (nicely spun)
they do offer EDGE in the UK though
no 3G+ coverage abroad but a fair number of 3G / GPRS & EDGE partners who are listed here
Vodafone HSDPA Coverage:
Vodafone HSDPA coverage can be found here you need to select the Mobile Data Map and 3G Broadband options although as everyone has been describing 3G as broadband speeds on your mobile this name muddies the waters a little. Vodafone win the prize for the most down to earth and honest statement of coverage – maybe a hangover from when they knew they ruled the roost
O2 HSDPA (lack of) Coverage:
O2 HSDPA coverage is non existent, they do mention the fact that they had the first UK GPRS network and they are rolling out 3G and WLAN (no good people you can’t afford to be behind this curve) their coverage data is found here
3 HSDPA (lack of) Coverage:
3 HSDPA coverage is also absent as they too don’t offer HSDPA they get more of a paragraph than O2 as they have the nastiest sting in the unlimited tail I’d suggest this is because 3 don’t actually own a 2G network, they have in country roaming agreements with existing MSPs
they also get more fingertip skin expended (positively this time) as they allow you to use your 3G datacard in the 7 countries in which they own a network at the same rates and tariff as at home (nice touch – MUCH MORE OF THIS PLEASE).
T-Mobile HSDPA Coverage:
in conversation T-mobile claim the highest penetration of 3G in the UK and claim 99.4% population coverage (maybe optimistic, and no such claims on the website). They do have the best limited unlimited options available and bundle WiFi access to their 1500 hotspots with 300 openzone roaming minutes a month ( at least until the end of March 2007).
Streetcheck gives street by street coverage – and actually shows some of the deadspots I know to exist so they probably win on honesty here, but beware it inflicted the BSOD on my notebook when trying to zoom out on the map.
we’re assessing T-Mobile and Vodafone so expect some feedback over the next few weeks.
by the way…. points to anyone who doesn’t have to google TSCR and E-TACS