Having a good mobile signal has always been important, but with the rollout of 5G and the growing number of people using 4G and 5G for home Internet, it has become increasingly important to make sure you have a good signal where you live and its surrounding areas.
In the past couple of years, I have reviewed:
All of the above are excellent, but they are all reliant on the signal you can get. Also, almost all the phones I have reviewed in the past couple of years have been capable of 5G, yet I am unable to get 5G in my house!
When 5G first started rolling out, Vodafone announced they would be one of the first companies to have 5G in my home town. Partly because of this, I ended up signing up for a cheap 2-year contract with them. To date, it appears they have maybe one 5G mast.
EE are no better with the same level of coverage as Vodafone.
In comparison, it looks like Three have covered around 50% of my town.
Each provider has its own coverage and network status map, and they provide a basic overview of what coverage is provided. You get informed if there is an indoor and outdoor signal, and that’s about it. No mast data and nothing on the bands used.
For most people, that data is fine, but for others, you may want some more detailed information.
Ofcom Site Finder
In the past, Ofcom had its own site finder tool, which allowed you to look up took, which provided some mast data. That has now been taken down, and instead, they have checker.ofcom.org.uk, which provides the same sort of data you get direct from each network. It is perhaps a bit better than the network data as you can switch between each provider and the indoor and outdoor signal data, and it gives you an idea of the quality of coverage.
If you want more detail, then there are two websites that can provide information.
Cell Mapper – Crowdsourced mobile phone mast locations
Cell Mapper is the best free option that I am aware of. It appears a lot of the data on this website is crowd-sourced, so it may not always be 100% accurate. You can sign up for an account, but this does not appear to be necessary.
I found the best option was to find the location you want to check on the map, then right-click and select the provider. This will display the available providers in your location.
By default, it will load up the 4G signal data and also show the location of the masts and the bands they are using.
When you select the mast, it will provide the coverage area and then a breakdown of each cell.
Mastdata – Useful for getting mobile mast planning applications
The other option, Mastdata will try and charge you a monthly fee, but some of the data is free of charge. You can either download the Android app or use the website. I preferred manually searching on the website.
With a free account, you can get signal coverage maps and use the signal survey feature. It says you can not get the mast location maps, but when you sign up for an account, you get a 28-day trial with a maximum of 250 hits.
However, when I tested this, after a couple of searches, I got a 10 hit limit and was informed that free trials are only available for emergency services at the current time.
I found that this website was good for getting some information on planning applications for new masts.
The paid plan is £15 per month, and I don’t think this will be very appealing to casual users.