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In the Dead Zone

5:55 PM -- Good news for mobile phone users in the United Kingdom: There is now a U.K. version of DeadCellZones.com, the popular Website that since its 2001 founding has received more than 100,000 complaints about dropped cellular coverage in specific locations.

Currently, the DCZ database has over 18,000 searchable dead-cell-zone coverage complaints.

There's something incongruous about complaining about a technology that hardly existed a quarter-century ago and doesn't work perfectly and ubiquitously today -- it's kind of like complaining in 1935 that cars don't have air-cooled engines yet, and by the way you can't drive from New York to L.A. at an average speed of 75 mph, encountering no traffic lights along the way.

But DeadCellZones.com founder Jeff Cohn strikes a tender nerve when he says, “Mobile Operators are always keen to sell the latest technology and the latest gadgets. However, many consumers wish that they would spend more time, money and resources improving the quality of the basic service."

Plus, DCZ has had an effect, if a minimal one: Earlier this year the carriers themselves began providing feedback on consumer complaints to the Website. The DCZ site also includes this classic story from The Wall Street Journal about dropped calls.

The fact is, carriers have little incentive to provide ubiquitous coverage, for the same reason big airlines, until recently, had little incentive to improve their dismal service. Like the airline industry of 10 years ago, the cellular carrier business is an oligopoly, and getting more so almost daily.

By the way, I live in a dead zone, less than five miles from downtown Boulder, Colo. I would complain on DeadCellZones, but somehow I don't think that my carrier, Verizon Wireless , is going to respond.

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

IPobserver 12/5/2012 | 3:45:26 AM
re: In the Dead Zone Can't see the use of this in the UK -- there really are very few dead zones nowadays.

About the only place left without coverage is the underground system. Let's hope someone will get around to fixing that.
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