Online House Hunter: Finding your connected home
IT’S becoming more and more vital for your new home to have good broadband and mobile phone coverage. Those who are moving home with a view to setting up their own business in the spare bedroom or working from home more will certainly want to check out connectivity, speeds and the like before they sign the dotted line.
Sadly, as the BBC’s latest crowd-sourcing survey has shown, finding out that information is not as straight-forward as you would hope. Auntie recruited over 44,000 volunteers, asking them to download an app that would check 3G coverage as they wandered around the UK. The results only said if there was a connection, not how good it was. And – prepare yourself for another ’shock’ headline – they found that 3G coverage in the country is not as the operators claim.
Those looking for more official data will find Ofcom’s broadband map of some use. This is for fixed broadband and is only broken down by administrative region rather than by street. However, it does reveal that if you want the fastest broadband buy a house in Edinburgh. Luton in England and Newtownabbey in Northern Ireland have the highest number of addresses served by a superfast broadband enabled telephone exchange.
Most people are cynical already about claims of download speeds and mobile phone coverage so this latest project isn’t going to do much for the industry. It’s no good buying that three-bedroom house in Hampstead but then finding out that the office/bedroom can’t connect with the outside world. There are a number of websites offering postcode checks but each comes with copious amounts of small print about differences with service providers, weather conditions etc.
Opensignalmaps is a much larger volunteer-run survey of cell phone signal strengths and Wi-Fi access points that is collected via an Android app. You may wish to compare their results with the results you obtain from the official maps drawn up by UK operators. A number of sites including broadbandchoices offer quick links to the UK providers.
Samknows offers a range of searches including one of local telephone exchanges, giving their precise location and what services they have to offer. This is of more value in rural areas where broadband deteriorates the further you are away from the exchange. Their broadband availability checker will show you what is available by postcode and compare the various packages on offer.
Uswitch.com gives users an impartial comparison and switching service. They offer a broadband speed test service but – more importantly for the house-hunter – they offer a stats for UK streets to guide you when looking for a new home.
There are more links below to help you but we surely all await the day that accurate broadband and phone coverage is detailed with any house sale details. Or it’s so perfect anywhere in the UK that such data is not necessary.
- Independent online property search
- Independent House & Home section
- BBC 3G coverage map
- Ofcom broadband map and guides
- Ofcom broadband guide
- Open Signal Maps
- Broadbandchoices – price comparison site accredited by Ofcom
- Three broadband coverage
- O2 coverage
- Orange coverage
- T-mobile coverage
- Virginmedia broadband
- Vodafone coverage checker
- Ofcom map of mobile phone masts in the UK
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