I went for a little shopping trip into the Cardiff city centre equipt with 2 mobile phones, each 3G enabled, one with an Orange SIM and the other with an O2 SIM, and a very patient wife. I hate going shopping normally, so it was very pleasant to be able to perform an experiment while making approving nods at pairs of purple shoes. Following on from my earlier post here is the result of my experiment.
Have a look at the map below. The testing points are marked with a green pin, where there was 3G signal for an operator you will see a little brand marker.
View 3G reception in Cardiff in a larger map
I probably got some very funny looks from people on the bus while I was checking 2 phones, but then most people on the bus can’t help but give funny looks, they were born that way. My wife tutted every time I got the phone out but she saw the scientific justification for the experiment.
The most noticable thing was that the O2 signal drops out with such regularity. There are less than half the number of pins for O2 than for Orange. Orange’s signal was by far the most versatile. I will admit that the Orange reception in my house is not great but that is a small victory for O2, since I mostly don’t use my phone in the house.
As part of the experiment I deliberately lost my umbrella in a shop and had to ask several attractive shop assistants if they had seen it. None of them had, but they were all very helpful. This has not influenced the results.
My conclusion is, if you are thinking about which operator to get and iPhone (or any phone that you want to use with 3G) don’t bother with O2, Orange have much better coverage.
On Tuesday 10 November, the exclusivity deal that O2 has with Apple ends and the iPhone will be available with other operators. This is good because more competition in the markplace is usually good for the consumer. Unfortunately the prices Orange have announced for its tariffs are exactly the same as O2, with the exception of a 30 pounds/month contact which gives 150 mins/250 texts on Orange (double the equivalent on O2). This is good news, although I suspect O2 would match this if I went to them an threatened to move. This is based on a conversation with O2 where they said the could ‘come to some arrangement when Orange released their tariffs’.
We all wanted a price war which just didn’t happen – grrrr. Vodafone are making noises about getting the iPhone early next year, but I just don’t like their logo: smug red inverted comma.
I am still not keen on staying with O2. Partly because they shafted me over the iPhone 18 months ago (the staff in store need much better training), but mostly be Orange have the best 3G network in UK. Ofcom have quoted O2 as having 85% of the country covered, while Orange have a cheeky spread of 93%. This extra 8% doesn’t sound much but it will really help with the train journey to London and Liverpool.
Today I am going about some errands in Cardiff and will report on how good the the 3G signal on both operators is.
2 Similar (but not identical) Sony Ericsson 3G phones. One with my O2 SIM and one with an old (but still functional) Orange SIM.
Check back for more excitement!
UPDATE: Have a look at the results blog entry to see which is my preferred network (complete with coverage map).