Calling, texting, 3G, 4G: how the accuracy of coverage maps will improve am

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The telecoms regulator is launching a consultation on a draft decision to refine the quality of coverage maps, so that they describe access to mobile telephony, SMS, 3G and 4G even more precisely.

Do you feel that the maps showing the level of mobile coverage are not accurate enough, or that they don’t reflect your daily life at all? The good news is that the criteria for developing them will be tightened during the year, to get closer to reality. This was announced by the telecoms regulator on 29 January.

Raised thresholds for mobile coverage

In concrete terms, the aim is to increase the reliability rate of My Mobile Network cards from 95% to 98%. This rate corresponds to the success rate of a given test carried out in an area that an operator claims to cover. The telecoms regulator verifies every year, through extensive field measurement campaigns (more than 1.5 million for 2019), whether what is declared is correct.

This new threshold, to come into force in the third quarter of 2020, applies to all areas of at least 1 000 square kilometres. But in order to provide even more accurate information, the regulator intends to develop another reliability rate, this time at the local level, for any area of at least 50 square kilometres. At this level, the expected reliability rate should be at least 95%.

  • Read: Which operator has the best mobile network in 2020 between Free, Orange, SFR and Bouygues?

À gauche, une surface de 1 000 km carrés. À droite, une zone ne mesurant plus que 50 km carrés. Dans la première, il est attendu un taux de fiabilité d’au moins 98 %. Dans la seconde, 95 % ou plus. Ces tracés sont à des fins d’illustration.

On the left, an area of 1,000 square kilometers. On the right, an area measuring only 50 square kilometres. In the former, a reliability rate of at least 98% is expected. In the second, 95% or more. These plots are for illustrative purposes.

This distinction is intended to avoid the effect of averaging: if a location that is poorly served by operators is in the same area as a location that is much better covered, the former can benefit from its rate, depending on the areas considered. Hence the idea of cutting smaller cells. An area of 50 square kilometres is about what a mobile site can cover under good conditions.

These reinforced requirements will cover both telephone calls and the sending of SMS and MMS (2G), as well as 3G and 4G internet access These are the different mobile phone services that the regulatory authority evaluates during its annual campaigns (in cities and in the countryside, inside or outside buildings, in transport or not). The 5G is not included as it has not yet been deployed.

The final element of the regulator’s strategy is the obligation for operators to publish combined 2G and 3G cards, in addition to the 2G-only cards published today, in order to be, once again, “as close as possible to the current uses of mobile networks“. But before launching anything, a consultation phase is open to gather feedback on its draft decision. It will last until March 6.

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