Android app aims to fill Optus network holes

Users can opt out of anonymous data collection

Optus users can report network dead zones after the telco updated its OptusNow app for Android.

Using data from the app, Optus will crowdsource network info including signal strength to identify areas to upgrade, location of black spots, mobile phone faults, call dropout locations and strength of coverage inside buildings, the telco said.

The network reporting runs in the background and does not access information about what websites or apps a user has viewed, Optus said.

The data collection function is switched on by default, but the app notifies users with a pop up and provides an option to opt out, an Optus spokesman said. The collected data is anonymous.

“Our customers tell us network quality is one of the top reasons for choosing their telco, so understanding actual network experience and making improvements based on this are absolutely critical for us,” said Optus head of customer experience, Amanda Hutton.

“Networks are incredibly complex, so this app is designed to gain insight into network experience at an individual customer level, not just the average experience.”

Optus is currently testing a version for Apple devices and considering launching it for iOS 7 in the near future, an Optus spokesman said.

A similar app was released in March by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network. The ACCAN Phone Rights app for Android and iOS uses a mobile phone’s GPS chip to pinpoint where a consumer experienced call dropout or sub-par data speeds.

The app includes a function to report the problem to a service provider or the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

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