What you need to know
- The FCC was suspicious of coverage maps and conducted its own drive tests.
- Verizon, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular were all singled out for suspicion.
- The report recommends an Enforcement Advisory detailing consequences.
Wireless carriers are required to submit accurate coverage maps, and the keyword here is "accurate," to the FCC so that public funds can be properly allocated to support broadband access — especially in communities where coverage is sparse. The FCC recently realized that three mobile carriers — Verizon, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular — "overstated their coverage and thus were not accurate reflections of actual coverage." This comes according to a new report bumped on Twitter by Mike Dano, Editorial Director for Light Reading. By misrepresenting coverage on maps, the mobile carriers have used public dollars that should have been spent elsewhere.
Wow.— Mike Dano (@mikeddano) December 4, 2019
The FCC tested Verizon, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular 4G LTE coverage in rural areas and found that THE CARRIERS WERE LYING ABOUT COVERAGE about 40% of the time. https://t.co/XqaU6r4Xpa
Takeaway: Cellular coverage maps are absolute shit. $VZ $TMUS $USM
To confirm the problem existed, the FCC ran drive tests covering 10,000 miles of driving and almost 25,000 tests. The results were abysmal. Verizon and T-Mobile couldn't even offer the minimum download speeds in more than 35% of the tests run by the FCC. The smaller U.S. Cellular fared even worse, with more than half of the tests coming in under the minimum speed. Additionally, even though coverage maps claimed users would find 4G LTE service, in many instances the FCC found no such coverage. T-Mobile failed to provide promised LTE coverage more than one-fifth of the time, while Verizon did a bit better and U.S. Cellular a bit worse.
Imagine living in one of these locations. Your carrier assures you that coverage is good, just check the map. The carrier bills you for the faster service, when your data may be slower or nonexistent at times. Then, when the federal government decides to step in and help you out with better service, the carriers have provided maps that claim you don't need any help.
The FCC report recommends an Enforcement Advisory, which is sort of a warning with a list of consequences attached. It is not clear whether the carriers will be sanctioned for submitting inaccurate government documents, but the FCC also concludes that further investigation is required, and future testing protocols should rely on the government representatives, not mobile industry promises.
With 5G coverage on the way
Sprint has a great deal on unlimited plans, and when you check the coverage map to see if you're well-connected, you can be sure it's accurate.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.
From the Editor's Desk: Navigating the Chromebook crunch of 2020
Chromebooks are wonderful little laptops for a great many people, but they're especially well-suited to children. Now if only retailers could keep them in stock this back-to-school season.
Here's every U.S. city with 5G coverage right now
5G deployment is moving fast and the list of cities with coverage is growing all the time. See if your U.S. city has coverage yet by Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T.
It's time to stop using SMS for two-factor authentication
Not all 2FA is equal. Using SMS to get a code might not be "better than nothing" after all.
Grab a case that comes from the same place as your Note 20
Now that the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra have arrived, the first thing you'll want to do is pick up a proper case. But instead of waiting around for third-party retailers to make their cases available, why not grab one from Samsung alongside your Note 20, giving you the whole package right at your doorstep?