back in broadband land

Osmotherleycoverage Such a relief to be back with a reliable online connection – though it will take a couple of days to trawl through the backlog of communication I could only partially review and edit.

The problem (and its not a new one) was going away for a few days to stay with a group of friends in a youth hostel – this time on the North Yorkshire moors. There was no O2 mobile reception at the youth hostel. That I could deal with. But there was no O2 mobile reception in the local village of Osmotherley either. There was no O2 mobile connection at Rievaulx 10 miles down the road. In fact more often than not mobiles were completely useless in this part of the world for trying to co-ordinate up to 10 vehicles ferrying parties of walkers to different walks on the moor. Actually we learned to live with this relatively quickly – suggesting to me that coverage outs for voice calls are less reported than for data.  The level of outages was a real headached for data because it meant that to monitor email I had to stop and answer critical emails then and there because I didn't know when I would again have coverage. It didn't mean that my email replies were promptly sent out either because often the coverage would drop so the email would have to stay in the outbox till the phone picked up a connection some time later. And it became very tiresome when trying to access GPS and the widgets that plotted your direction and speed. Because old fashioned map and compass were much better than the non existent data coverage.  Try the map out for yourself.

All 4 mobile networks claim to offer national cover. What they actually do is to ensure that they cover almost all the calls they think they can handle – when most of the volume comes from high population centres. This doesn't matter so much for voice. But as a roving data user – the disruption to mobile data communications is much more critical. And as more and more of the population switch to smartphones I would expect perceptions of service levels to decline. Because we are using mobile coverage for different tasks than we were 5 years ago, tasks that the original network designers never even thought of. And a lot of this is out and about in remote places. Where we expect the same level of access that we get from our mobiles at home and are surprised when we don't get it. Is this set to change? I don't think so. Mobile companies get rich on volume – so unless we can encourage a lot more people to try to access data in remote areas and complain about the lack of coverage nothing is about to change. I recall that the government in the digitalbritain consultation last year was aiming for 10MB connection nationwide. As far as I am aware no ISP has stepped forward and offered to fill this gap. Here's a piece about the problem.

Rievaulx

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