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Putting the Galaxy to rights #1 – Sitefinder

September 28, 2010

Vista busy cursor I am still iPhoneless and likely to stay that way. I seriously toyed with waiting for Windows Phone 7 but memories of being an early adopter of Vista were enough to put a dampener on that idea. So it had to be Android and a bit of research suggested the Samsung Galaxy S was the best handset on the market, just shading the offerings from HTC. The main attraction for me was the bigger screen, reputedly bright enough to read in the open on a sunny day.

I have been an O2 user for years as has everyone in my household and we have all complained about the poor cell coverage when at home. Rather than blindly land up with more of the same I tried to look into which carrier was likely to offer the best coverage and hit upon the Ofcom Sitefinder website. This is the UK Government’s independent database of mobile base stations and it has a natty user interface which shows you on a map all the stations closest to say your home, which carriers they belong to and which services they carry, eg normal cellphone communications, 3G, etc.

It turns out that at the moment the nearest base stations to my home are operated by 3 and T-Mobile, both supporting voice and 3G, and considerably closer than the nearest O2 stations. I did look briefly at 3 but they seem to be widely panned by their users for poor quality of customer service. In fairness, all the carriers do (it is after all the most disgruntled who are the most vocal) but I thought I could detect significantly more disgruntlement on the part of 3’s users than anyone else’s.

It was decided. I would get my Samsung Galaxy S on a T-Mobile contract, although improved mobile coverage was not a foregone conclusion. We live along the side of the Bollin valley and the local topography appears to interfere with the signal from the main cluster of local base stations which are in and around Hale Barns village. The nearest T-Mobile base stations are in the opposite direction, close to the M56 motorway. My guess was that distance and topography would both favour the T-Mobile signal but until my phone arrived I would not know for sure.

In the event the coverage has proved to be considerably better than with O2. The signal strength is often weak but I hardly ever lose contact with the network whereas on O2 I could sometimes be waiting 15 minutes for enough signal to send out a text message.

Oh, and I can see the screen even in the sunshine (if I turn the brightness up) not that we get much sunshine in the Manchester area.

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