How do I figure out network coverage for my area?

telephone in the wild

Clare TD Michael McNamara has questioned Irish mobile operators claims of ‘99% coverage’. McNamara claims that mobile coverage leaves ‘a lot to be desired’. The TD also stated:

“most of the 1pc of the Irish population that the telephone companies admit do not have coverage must live in Co Clare,".
- Michael McNamara

So what's this 99% claim all about? The '99% coverage' that is promised by providers means that they cover 99% of the population, rather than a geographical 99%. 

For those on prepay or SIM-only plans, switching to networks with better coverage in their area is an option. However, for those locked into long-term mobile contracts, it may be very difficult to exit a contract. As such it pays to be wary of coverage before committing to a contract!

In the UK, the communications regulator Ofcom have created a tool that allows you to examine network coverage, which it claims is more accurate than maps provided by mobile networks themselves. What Ofcom found was that much of the service reported by providers to be adequate was in fact below the threshold required for non-frustrating mobile use!

Who's responsible for mobile coverage?

There are currently three license holders providing mobile network services in Ireland at present; Vodafone, Three, and Meteor (Eircom group). All networks in Ireland will operate on one of the three aforementioned infrastructures, see table below:

Network Infrastructure
Vodafone Vodafone
Three Three
Meteor Eircom
Eir Eircom
Tesco Mobile Three
Lycamobile Three
Postmobile Vodafone
iD Mobile Three
Virgin Media Three
Blueface Three
48 Three

How do I check coverage in my area?

  • Coverage maps are available on the Three, Meteor and Vodafone websites, these coverage maps can also be used to gauge the service of MVNO's using their infrastructure. These maps are created by the operators themselves.

  • Opensignal.com is a great site that uses crowdsourcing to determine mobile coverage across the world. While operators will tend to claim consistent coverage, it’s great to have access to more impartial data. The coverage map on the site isn’t definitive, due to its crowdsourced nature, but should provide a pretty solid indication of coverage quality.

  • Comreg have a site that allows you to view the location of telephone masts and bases throughout Ireland. While the site doesn’t give you specific coverage information, it provides an indication of what the quality of service in area should be like. With telephone masts indicating that there is better coverage in the area.

 

We had a look at a few different addresses on the Open Signal website. As you could guess, coverage is best in Dublin and other cities. With KillBiller's office address boasting coverage that is 38% better than the Irish average — YAYE!