Streetwave Maps Mobile Network Speeds in Caerphilly Using Bin Lorries

Mobile network analyst Streetwave has partnered up with the Caerphilly County Borough Council (CCBC) in Wales to harness local refuse (bin) collection trucks in order to map the local network (mobile broadband) performance across the area, which covers services from EE (BT), O2 (Virgin Media), Vodafone and Three UK.

The idea of using bin collections to map 4G and 5G mobile coverage is one that has only recently been implemented. In fact, Streetwave are a key partner on a similar scheme (here) that’s currently occurring across Mid Wales (Powys and Ceredigion), but this idea is one that’s clearly spreading.

NOTE: CCBC has a population of 176,000 and is characterised as a mixture of urban and rural communities. Caerphilly’s topography is hilly, with the borough stretching from the Brecon Beacons National Park in the north to Cardiff and Newport in the south.

The big news today is that Caerphilly has become the “first council in the UK” to also provide a mobile coverage checker, based on a similar method of data collection, for its “residents to check [their] mobile signal” (we expect the same from the aforementioned project in Mid Wales too).

Following coverage complaints from staff and residents, CCBC began working with Streetwave to measure mobile signal quality across the council in September 2023. The use of bin lorries has since enabled the project to complete weekly mobile coverage surveys across every address in the council.

Network quality is now continuously being analysed across the four main mobile operators – covering data points such as throughput speeds, signal strength, and network generation information. Local residents can use the following links to see the exact download and upload speeds that EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 offer within a 30m radius outside of their homes/businesses.

Link to English language coverage checker:

Link to Welsh language coverage checker:

Naturally we had a quick look at this, which returned both an average download and upload speed for the addresses we tested (although you have to click to show uploads in the FAQs – lower down the page). But there’s currently no visual map to help people easily identify weak and strong areas of service performance, as well as no data for signal coverage or 4G/5G availability.

Suffice to say that it’s not, yet, a full replacement for the traditional coverage checkers offered by the mobile network operators, which merely estimate the mobile network quality you will receive at an address via mathematical modelling, and limited surveying. Streetwave also didn’t provide any overall network statistics for the area, which would have been useful to see.

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