Skip to Main Content
Go to Penn Libraries homepage   Go to Guides homepage

Mobile Coverage Explorer : GIS data: Home

Mobile Coverage Explorer overview

Mobile Coverage Explorer is a representation of areas covered by mobile networks around the world. The data are compiled and generated by Collins Bartholomew from submissions by mobile network operators who are members of GSMA, the trade body for GSM, the Global System for Mobile Communications.

Mobile Coverage Explorer data are provided as GeoTIFF images, that may be processed and viewed using ArcGIS, QGIS, or other geographic information systems applications as well as displayed using imaging applications.

NOTE. The Penn Libraries holdings for Collins Bartholomew Mobile Coverage Explorer had been in ESRI ArcGIS shapefile format. Collins Bartholomew has replaced those shapefiles with new GeoTIFF raster datasets. The old shapefile formats are no longer available through the Penn Libraries license.

The Penn Libraries Mobile Coverage Explorer GeoTIFF data may not be used by people who are not currently affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania. If you a not a current Penn, student, faculty, or staff member, then you should contact your own librarians for guidance on how to acquire the data.

Appropriate use of Mobile Coverage Explorer datasets

These Mobile Coverage Explorer GeoTIFF datasets are licensed for the University of Pennsylvania through the Penn Libraries. It is important to understand appropriate use for these datasets.

  • The coverage data are for research, scholarship, and educational use only by current Penn students, faculty, and staff only.
  • The coverage data may not be used for commercial purposes. For clarification, use of the data to support research that is partially funded by a corporate source does not constitute a commercial purpose.
  • The coverage data may be represented in research results as static images, tables or text as necessary to convey research findings.
  • All screen images derived or generated from the coverage data should incorporate proper attribution.
  • The data may not be redistributed in their raw form.

Mobile Coverage Explorer raster datasets

Each annual Mobile Coverage Explorer ZIP archive contains two data folders, Data_MCE and Data_OCI, with PDF and XLSX metadata and other documentation.

Data_MCE coverages are sourced directly from network operators. Data_OCI coverages are sourced from OpenCelliD tower locations. It is important to read the accompanying documentation to understand how coverages are presented.

Each data folder contains two data subfolders, Global and By Country. The Global subfolder contain raster data for 2G (GSM), 3G, 4G, and 5G technologies, with worldwide coverage. The By Country subfolder contains raster data for individual country coverages within subfolders for 2G (GSM), 3G, 4G, and 5G technologies. Country name abbreviations used in By Country filenames are explained in the accompanying metadata.

Mobile Coverage Explorer data are in GeoTIFF format as either 2-BIT (MCE) or 1-BIT (OCI) raster format with pre-built pyramids using nearest-neighbor resampling. The data use Web Mercator (EPSG;3857) map projection, with a nominal resultion of approximately 260 meters on the ground at the equator.

Mobile Coverage Explorer dataset documentation

These documents are representative of the documentation provided in each annual ZIP archive.

Mobile Coverage Explorer datasets
Year File Notes
2006-2009 Global only. MCE only.
1999-2004 : 2G.
2006-2009 : 2G, 3G.
2010 MCE only.
2G, 3G.
2011 MCE only.
2G, 3G.
2012 MCE only.
2G, 3G, 4G.
2013 MCE only.
2G, 3G, 4G.
2014 MCE only.
2G, 3G, 4G.
2015 MCE only.
2G, 3G, 4G.
2016 MCE only.
2G, 3G, 4G.
2017 MCE only.
2G, 3G, 4G.
2018 MCE only.
2G, 3G, 4G.
2019 MCE and OCI.
2G, 3G, 4G.
2020 MCE and OCI.
2G, 3G, 4G, 5G.
2021 MCE and OCI.
2G, 3G, 4G, 5G.
2022 MCE and OCI.
2G, 3G, 4G, 5G.
2023 MCE and OCI.
2G, 3G, 4G, 5G.

Other Resources

Current GSMA mobile network coverage visualizations

GSMA provides current-year web visualization tools for national mobile network coverages through two websites:

Penn Libraries Home Franklin Home
(215) 898-7555