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New apps track phone coverage woes

Date

It just got easier to make a complaint about mobile coverage.

ACCAN's Phone Rights app on Android.

ACCAN's Phone Rights app on Android.

New smartphone apps will make it easier for people to make complaints about call drop outs, delayed text messages or slow internet.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network's (ACCAN) Phone Rights app, launched on Wednesday for Android and iPhone, allows mobile phone users to test their reception and log where and when they're experiencing problems so they can make a complaint to their provider.

The app joins another called My Mobile Coverage, which recently launched in Australia.

What Telstra's network looks like on My Mobile Coverage after a number of users tested it in Sydney's CBD.

What Telstra's network looks like on My Mobile Coverage after a number of users tested it in Sydney's CBD.

As well as making it easier to report problems, Phone Rights offers advice on how to resolve phone and internet issues such as contracts, global roaming and data charges.

The information in the app is based on the new Telecommunications Consumer Protections code, ACCAN spokeswoman Elise Davidson said.

"The rules around telecommunications can be really confusing for customers, and this app makes it simple for consumers to figure out how to get a problem fixed," she said.

What Vodafone's network looks like on My Mobile Coverage after a number of users tested it in Sydney's CBD.

What Vodafone's network looks like on My Mobile Coverage after a number of users tested it in Sydney's CBD.

The app also features a function that allows a person to contact their provider or make a complaint to the Telecommunications Industry ombudsman.

"If you've signed up to a contract and you're not getting the service you're paying for, it's worth making a complaint to your provider about it," Ms Davidson said.

"This app makes it easy by providing you with a record of where and when problems are occurring."

What Optus' network looks like on My Mobile Coverage after a number of users tested the network in Sydney.

What Optus' network looks like on My Mobile Coverage after a number of users tested the network in Sydney.

A similar app Australian consumers recently got access to is My Mobile Coverage.

It is available for Blackberry, Android and iPhone, but iPhone users can only view coverage data recorded by others and not record coverage.

As well as recording signal strength on most platforms, the app also records all events, such as successful calls, failed/dropped calls, loss of 3G and loss of voice coverage.

This information is then displayed on a map and can be used to report problem areas to a carrier.

"I believe it can be a lot of benefit to mobile users in 'proving' what actual coverage and network performance is like," said My Mobile Coverage's David Griffiths.

"When a user registers, they can view . . . coverage on a website for their carrier and the other carriers.

"This view of coverage is a real world view of what users have actually experienced compared to the theoretical coverage maps that the carriers provide."

A user can also perform data speed tests with My Mobile Coverage, Mr Griffiths said.

The difference between My Mobile Coverage and the Phone Rights app is that carriers must pay for the data produced by people using My Mobile Coverage.

"The mobile carriers can subscribe to the service which lets them see aggregated data from all their users," Mr Griffiths said. "This provides a valuable view of how their users are experiencing their network and with hundreds or thousands of users collecting data it gives them far more data than they could collect themselves by doing drive tests."

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Simon Cohen welcomed ACCAN's Phone Rights app.

"This is a very good feature that should help consumers to quickly resolve mobile phone complaints, and increase the accessibility of TIO services," Mr Cohen said.

With AAP

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