MOBILE phone users are being asked to turn detective and help map reception rates across rural Britain.
Rural businesses and communities received a far poorer service than urban users – despite paying the same to use their mobile phones, said the Countryside Alliance.
Now it is searching for evidence to ensure people living in the countryside are not forgotten by mobile phone companies.
The alliance has collected numerous examples of bad service.
Students at Harper Adams University in Newport, Shropshire, have no mobile phone service on campus – unless they are on Orange.
Those with other service providers may as well turn their phones off as they are in a completely dead zone, said Merek Hammond of the college.
"We have to warn the new students. I think you'd be pretty peeved if you signed up to a year's contract before starting at Harper Adams and then realised you had no signal.
"We have a good Orange signal and you can just about get a Vodaphone signal in some places on campus but other than that, forget it."
Alison Hawes and her husband John Walters-Symons have virtually no mobile phone signal at Borough Farm in Holbeton, near Plymouth.
Mrs Hawes said the poor service was hard for their organic farming business. "There are only a few places on the farm where we have signal. It's very frustrating," she said.
Countryside Alliance executive chairman Barney White-Spunner, said: "The rates of phone coverage quoted by phone companies are a best case scenario.
"We all know how much phone reception can vary in the countryside and we feel households and businesses based there at a disadvantage."
The Countryside Alliance is asking people to download a free RootMetrics app and use it while they are at home as well as while they are out and about.
The app tests the strength of their signal and automatically records the result. It can also check which company provides the best service in a given area.
Information collected by the alliance will be used to lobby phone companies and the government to improve rural reception.
For further information on how to use the app and to see results so far, visit www.rootmetrics.com/uk/
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