Who's mapping 3G?
Whose network should you choose if you want the best 3G coverage for your phone?
According to Orange, it's obvious. "The Orange 3G network covers more people in the UK than any other operator," boasted the company in a newspaper advert.
But its rival network Three hit out at that claim, insisting it had better coverage of the UK.
Now the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that the Orange advert was misleading.
The dispute centred on the difference between population coverage and geographical coverage, and the ASA went to the only source of information about these issues, Ofcom's maps of each network's reach [667.34KB PDF] published last year.
What those maps show is a very broad brush picture of the geographical reach of each network, rather than any data on how many people each of them can reach.
They do show that Three has more coverage of the UK than Orange, but there is no information on how many people they reach.
Orange says its network is ahead of Three on that count, using statistics published by each network.
While Ofcom has done some work on measuring 3G population coverage, it has not published any findings. So the ASA ruled that Orange was not in a position to claim that it was ahead of Three.
Confused? I don't blame you, and this all goes to show how difficult it is for consumers to get reliable information about the quality of the networks.
When people are buying very expensive smartphones they need to know whether they will be able to use them in their area - and right now they just have to take the word of the retailer or the network.
What's needed is a lot more data about people's real life experience of getting a decent 3G signal.
At the moment all we have is anecdotal evidence - like the story from a colleague who's just turned up at my desk to complain that a brand new top of the range smartphone can barely get a signal from the Orange network in London.
So isn't it about time someone undertook a large-scale comprehensive and objective study of how the different UK mobile networks perform for their customers?