Opinion

Carrier 5G coverage maps are rubbish – US FCC

Carrier 5G coverage maps are rubbish

A report from the US Federal Communications Commission found that Carrier 5G coverage maps are rubbish at least 40% of the time. And judging from experience in Australia, that may be the best-case scenario.

After discussions with all the carriers, the FCC ran its coverage tests. These included detailed analyses of everything from uplink channels to ‘reference signal received power’ (RSRP). It also provided its custom speed test to users to map out their coverage.

Our analysis and speed tests suggest that the submitted MF-II (5G Fund) coverage maps did not match actual coverage in many instances

FCC

Of course, the Carriers blamed the FCC testing methodology. How dare it reflect ‘real-world’ use – not the hypothetical mumbo jumbo provided by the carriers.

Why the disparity between real-world and carrier maps?

Carrier Maps use a theoretical coverage – not a real one. Telstra has in its fine print that the coverage map uses tools that predict the likely areas of outdoor coverage. This excludes in the home, business, or vehicle and does not take into account geographic issues (dead spots).

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone succumbed to the imperative to sell more 5G handsets. They are promising coverage that is very far from reality.

Back to the US FCC statement – Carrier 5G coverage maps are rubbish

The FCC wants accurate coverage maps – not the marketing hype. To get that, it needs operators to submit data or maps to the agency showing their Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) or Reference Signal Received Power (RSRP) information. That information is in all carriers ‘link budgets’ containing detailed information of all signal gains and losses between a transmitter and a receiver (phone).

Such data can create “heat maps”. Carriers are worried because it helps to show operators’ signal strength data in the same way that the number of service bars on a customer’s phone reflects the strength of their provider’s signal in a particular location.

Of course, the major carriers and their lobby body have argued that it would impose ‘unnecessary burdens on mobile network operators and create ‘consumer confusion’.

But the Carriers own trade association – the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) – disagreed. It argued the FCC should collect signal strength data because doing so would “help ensure reliable coverage maps and will help in the comparison of maps across carriers.”

“CCA continues to believe that RSSI and RSRP provide the best estimation of network performance and are effectively the calculated output of various parameters to generate coverage maps,” the group wrote to the FCC.

Back to Australia

You can read about real-world coverage in Sydney Australian 5G speeds – truth revealed and Desperately seeking 5G – the saga continues. GadgetGuy stated “All we have ever asked of Telstra is to tell the unvarnished truth about 5G speeds and coverage. At least stop using the words’ population coverage’ – it is misleading. Telstra refers to where most people live, not the Australian continent. If you are outside the capital or regional cities, you will wait a long time to see 5G.”

The bottom line is that 5G handsets now are approaching 4G prices, and like 4K TVs, there is no need to buy a 1080p at the same price. Price parity was the only driver needed – not all this marketing crap fed to use by desperate Telcos.

If you want a quality 5G handset for the best price, you cannot go past the $349 OPPO A54 and the $399 OPPO A74 9.8/10.

What OPPO has done, before any other company, is to democratise 5G for all.