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Ofcom launches UK mobile coverage checker to help spur competition

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Ofcom has launched a new tool allowing users to check the strength of mobile coverage across the UK, which it hopes will encourage competition in the market.

The online service allows users to check the strength of network services from operators EE, Vodafone, Three and O2, including the quality of voice calling and 3G and 4G data services.

Users can search by postcode, with a colour-coded map indicating whether network coverage is good, fair or poor in a specific area. 

The strength of mobile coverage both indoors and outdoors can be checked using the tool.

The regulator said the service would help users select the best mobile network based on their needs and would also encourage more competition between operators.

The latest report from Rootmetrics once again saw EE top the charts for overall network performance.

Coverage-checking tools are frequently provided on the websites of mobile operators themselves, although Ofcom’s tool allows users to compare multiple networks simultaneously.

Ofcom added the service was a continuation of its efforts to improve the process for switching between different mobile providers.

The regulator also plans to introduce a new switching process that puts the responsibility for the switch in the hands of the operator to which the customer is moving.

[Read more: New Ofcom CEO gives operators a dressing-down, brings in new policies]

Steve Unger, Ofcom’s Chief Technology Officer, said: “Access to reliable mobile phone coverage used to be a ‘nice to have’. Now it’s essential to many people’s lives.

“We believe our map is the most comprehensive tool available to consumers and businesses to check mobile coverage. We’re encouraging people to feed back after using the map, so we can continue to improve its accuracy.”