Calls, SMS, 3G, 4G: how coverage map accuracy will improve

by Kelvin
Calls, SMS, 3G, 4G: how coverage map accuracy will improve

Operators will have to comply with new rules from September to represent their coverage maps. They will further describe the quality of signal reception.

Do you have the feeling that the maps showing the level of mobile coverage are not precise enough, or even that they do not reflect at all what you experience on a daily basis? Good news: the criteria for developing them will be tightened during the year, to come closer to reality. A project launched at the beginning of the year by the telecoms regulator is in the process of being completed.


Recall of facts. On January 29, the authority launched a public consultation until March 6 to gather feedback from all stakeholders on its project. At the end of this work, a decision was adopted on March 31, the regulatory authority (Arcep) specifying the content and methods of the coverage maps intended for the public, and describing the methods of verifying the reliability of these. information.

This decision was published in the Official Journal on May 6, with a government decree homologating it. From now on, the provisions it contains will come into force from September 18. A somewhat distant deadline, but which should leave time for operators (Orange, SFR, Free Mobile and Bouygues Telecom) to prepare for this new framework.

Raised thresholds for mobile coverage

Concretely, the aim is to raise the reliability rate of Mon Réseau Mobile cards, from 95 to 98%. This rate corresponds to the success rate of a given test carried out in an area that an operator claims to cover. The telecoms regulator indeed checks each year, as part of extensive measurement campaigns on the ground (more than 1.5 million for 2019), whether what is declared is correct.

This new 98% threshold applies to all areas of at least 1,000 square kilometers. But in order to provide even more accurate information, the regulator intends to develop another reliability rate, which this time concerns a local level, when the surface which is measured is less than 100 km² (and no longer 50 km² as had been planned). at the beginning). At this level, the reliability rate should be at least 95%.

These thresholds appear justified and proportionate in view of the results of recent campaigns to measure the reliability of coverage maps, “which show that operators are able to achieve this level of reliability”, justifies Arcep, in its opinion. It also took into account “”, which pleaded for a slight lightening of the frame.

For further

Coverage My Mobile Voicemail Network Reunion Island

An example of a coverage map, for Reunion, proposed by Arcep.

This distinction aims to avoid the effect of averaging: if a location poorly served by operators is located in the same area as a location with much better coverage, the former can benefit from its good rate, depending on the areas considered. Hence the idea of ​​cutting out smaller cells. To get an idea, an area of ​​50 square kilometers is roughly what two mobile sites can cover under good conditions.

These strengthened requirements will concern both telephone calls and sending SMS and MMS (2G), as well as access to the Internet in 3G and 4G. These are the different mobile telephony services that the regulatory authority assesses during its annual campaigns (in town and country, inside or outside buildings, in transport or not). 5G is not included, not being deployed yet.

Operators will have to publish a map showing the coverage areas regardless of the terminal used, as well as another showing the coverage for terminals with access to more recent technologies than 2G, such as 3G. Three levels of coverage should be visible: limited, good, and very good coverage – in addition to no coverage, if any.