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National Wireless Independent Dealer Association

Wait… Carriers Don’t Drive Test Anymore?

Back in the days when I worked for a carrier (#MetroOne), we regularly sent out techs (and sometimes non-techs) to “drive test” our coverage area. Literally people in cars, with like 5 cell-phone antennas on the top – looking for holes in the coverage and seeing where our competition had better coverage than we did.

Apparently, that stopped being a thing some time ago – and the FCC wants to bring it back. And the carriers don’t.

Last year, the FCC determined that US carriers were exaggerating coverage and speeds in their maps. While the carriers tried to blame this as a “regulatory problem” (lolz), the FCC is still mandating better testing for more accurate maps. However, both AT&T and T-Mobile are formally objecting to the plan as stated, claiming it would cost them too much, and that more honest testing might actually confuse customers somehow.

Objections from both AT&T and T-Mobile (h/t Ars Technica) were filed recently in response to a proposal by the FCC that the carriers submit better evidence of coverage with real-world so-called “drive testing.” Verizon objected to details regarding real-world testing as well last year.

AT&T claims that “it is not possible for all carriers to use the same parameters and produce maps that accurately predict their individual network performance.” In addition, they claim that the effort and cost to produce these maps would outweigh any perceived benefit. T-Mobile agrees:

“Doing so would only impose more burdens on providers and lead to further customer confusion without providing a commensurate benefit.”

Stay tuned…

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