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Query:

I am trying to find a map, or database/API, which shows the cellphone network coverage given an arbitrary point for anywhere on the planet.

This is in the context of planning a hypothetical around-the-world voyage, so coastal coverage is of primary interest, but the generalized form of this question is for any point on earth's surface, land or sea. The path planning for this notional voyage will optimize for staying close to coasts where there is at least 3G coverage, and attempt to reduce the length of non-coverage legs.

The more essential assumption in this question is that a typical international roaming data plan will be compatible with all the coastal networks found in this search*. A more broad follow-up question would be: What is the current state-of-the-art for international roaming cellphone data plans? Which vendors allow for world travel with a single plan and no SIM card switching? Ideally, I do not want to reconfigure the around-the-world cellphone with location-specific SIM cards or other trauma.

The correct answer for this question would answer the following programmatically, or with light human-user interaction:

  • What are the cell networks, if any, that cover 26.186,-80.086? 7.350,-12.405? -8.447,112.659?
  • For each network, what is the link type? 3G? LTE?

Own Search Results:

I've searched using terms such as "global cellphone coverage kml" and variations. Here is what I am finding:

  • https://www.gsma.com/coverage/ - This is quite possibly the closest solution for my query, but it is only a per-nation and per-carrier presentation. It might be possible to web scrape this source, or perhaps there is a bulk/raw version of the database, or an API, but it is likely this will require membership or payment of some sort?
  • https://webcoveragemap.rootmetrics.com/en-US - Like the GSMA result, this also allocates results based on what specific carrier is selected in the user interface.
  • https://www.opensignal.com/networks - Same story. Select the nation, then the carrier. No way to compile all networks for the entire globe, or to select an arbitrary point and resolve coverage offered.

Potentially Related

Posts:

Is it possible that another SE Community might service this question more effectively? Candidates:

* Note: This appears to be true only for Google Fi at present.

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  • With "a typical international roaming data plan will be compatible" do you mean compatible from a technical perspective, or that it is also included in your monthly price already?
    – dunni
    Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 8:58
  • @dunni Both. Or, if the dataplan decides to start tacking on extra charges, that is no issue, so long as it just switches over automatically with no SIM card swaps, etc. Again, that is probably better left to a follow-on question, the main essence of this post is to find any data source that shows all networks for a given point.
    – Steve
    Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 9:06
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    I am not sure where you are coming from, but at least where I live, most cell phone subscriptions allow data traffic when roaming without any fuzz. The exception is rather that data while roaming is not allowed. Your pain level when it comes to charging is however probably very much a relevant point. My cell phone provider charges up to €1490/GB for data traffic when roaming and such price levels are unfortunately not exceptional. Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 9:27
  • It might be worth noting that if you are planning voyage by sea, height of the receiver can make a significant difference in some areas, to the point where you might be able to get a good signal from hoisting a mobile hotspot 30-40ft in the air where otherwise there would be no coverage. Online charts aren't going to show this. Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 12:48
  • @user1937198: That is a good point. The assumed transceiver height can be 7 to 10 meters in this case. Perhaps re-phrasing this question as "Where can I find a map of all known cellphone towers on the planet and who owns them" is a better approach?
    – Steve
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 8:30

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