The launch of the iPhone 4 and its arial problems suddenly created a massive interest in the quality and reach of mobile phone and WiFi networks across the planet. The issue has only increased as smartphones have proliferated. So being able to work out which mobile carrier was best for you based on where you are, in real time would be a dream come true for many. OpenSignalMaps launched at the start of this year to do just that, and now they have hit a million downloads on the Android app store.
The data is also producing some interesting results. Lately they’ve been picking up some unreleased devices being used with the application. For example, it appears AT&T is testing some phones on their new 4G network (which was only released recently and currently has no released 4G phones that work). Their data shows that the network is – at least right now – blazing fast (but this could slow down once more people are using it of course).
The startup recently released a UK 3G ‘notspot’ study in collaboration with BBC and, just last week, a USA buyers guide to the iPhone 4S showing which network is best state-by-state (testing network speed, pricing etc).
An iPhone version of the app is on its way and they are also rolling out an Enterprise platform. Their database now equates to two billion data-points contributed by users.
The app compares and maps the signal strength of the nearest mobile base stations in realtime, running in the background on Android phones.
It turns out crowd-sourcing the signal strength of mobile base stations is very smart, providing information on signal strength, data, speeds, and the cell towers nearby. Users can share the data the app gathers with the OpenSignalMaps site, where the information is processed and visualized on a map.
Russia is interestingly their number two country after the US in usage, followed by Italy, Germany then UK.
The OpenSignalMaps team consists of four former Oxford University Physics graduates: Brendan Gill, Sam Westwood, Sina Khanifar, and James Robinson. They were inspired to start OpenSignalMaps after working with customers of their first startup, RepeaterStore, which sells mobile base station repeaters for domestic use in the US.
And there’re still bootstrapped.