If you use a smart phone, you are connected. To stay connected, you need data. To get data, you need coverage- either from your cell provider or from a WiFi connection. We will look at two services that help you find coverage.
OpenSignal is based upon a simple concept- to measure the signal strength and point you in the direction of the strongest signal. you can download the OpenSignal app from the Play Store or the App Store, based on what device you use. OpenSignal also serves a higher purpose- they serve the data they have and put it on a map. The result is a heatmap that shows you the signal strengths of your provider across the area you live in- a fascinating visualization! You can also get information on which provider has the best coverage in your location.
When I moved to New Delhi in 2011, I took a new cell subscription from provider A. Provider A had good coverage for most of the places I frequented except the ones that mattered most- home and office. Needless to say, I cancelled this subscription and moved on to provider B which served me like a charm. Now, if I had known that provider B had better coverage for New Delhi than provider A, I would have chosen provider B in the first place. This is one scenario where OpenSignal could help you out- making informed decisions regarding your cell subscription.
Mozilla Location Service
Mozilla Location Service is a relatively newer product and aims to map WiFi coverage around the world. You can open a map of your area and see where you can get open WiFi connections. The service is relatively nascent and will take time to catch up but I’m sure that if Mozilla plays the cards right, we will have a monster of a service on our hands.
Both OpenSignal and Mozilla Location Service are crowdsourced. You can contribute with the OpenSignal app for the former and MozStumbler for the latter.