Posting Bad Spots... don't do it! (Part 1)


Really quite unlikely in the UK if:

  • use a modern phone that operates on Band 20 (800MHz)
  • use a modern phone that supports VoLTE
  • use a carrier with good rural coverage

Since switching to EE I’ve not yet had a problem with coverage in the UK (mainly Scotland) from a summit. This is mainly due to EE providing the coverage for the emergency services once Airwave type services are switched off.

There are gotchas and there are people who know more about this than the small experience I have. But if your phone can do VoLTE (4g voice calling) then on EE it can use B20. Or no VoLTE = no band 20 on EE. There are lots and lots of rural B20 masts being rolled out. So with my phone I get a 4G signal just about everywhere in Scotland.

Whether your phone will support VoLTE is “interesting”. If there isn’t a “VoLTE” icon it’s not in VoLTE mode. You can dial *#*#4636#*#* and from the Phone Information option you can see if your phone is VoLTE provisioned. If it is, there will be an option to enable VoLTE and/or Wifi calling somewhere.

But it all seems to depend on the phone, the actual SIM, the network, the phase of the moon and your inside leg measurement.

My old phone (G6 Play) would do VoLTE on EE. I have an ASDAmobile (vodaphone) SIM which should do VoLTE but doesn’t. The battery was dieing in that so I now have a g53 5G phone. It does VoLTE on EE. I tried the ADSAmobile SIM and I can do Wifi calling but it doesn’t look like VoLTE was enabled. But Wifi calling is a good indication it should to VoLTE.

So in the UK for best coverage you want a VoLTE enabled EE phone.


What a sweeping statement, Andy. You do make me laugh - maybe that was the point.

I have a fairly modern iPhone and I recall activating quite a few G/LD summits only last year where there was no phone reception, and I hadn’t even activated many of the remote western ones. I recall on many occasions trying repeatedly to send a self-spot SMS only to get the infamous “message not delivered”.

I remember last July trying different sides of Hard Knott G/LD-034 summit and, when standing in the right place, got a roaming message from the Isle of Man network and got my SMS to send.

I like how you covered yourself with the caveat “good rural coverage”. That’s just the point, it’s not economic to provide good coverage in sparsely populated mountainous areas. So come on, be a bit more nuanced.

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Not using VoLTE .AND. Not using EE .AND. Not on B20.

You need B20 as it has better coverage per cell than other 4G bands in the UK. (B1, B3, B7 )
You need EE because EE is required to provide rural coverage for emergency services so it has cells in the middle of nowhere using B20.

You only get B20 on EE if you can do VoLTE. i.e. so your voice calls are IP switched not circuit switched
3G calls.

You need all 3.

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Andy, you’re missing the point.

I have a perfectly-good modern iPhone which serves my needs (and which supports VoLTE, I believe). I don’t want nor need to switch network provider (to EE) or buy a replacement phone even if that gave me greater coverage in the Lake District which I very much doubt or buy a Garmin Inreach so that I could send QSY SMS texts mid QSO/pile-up to chasers who can’t copy my weak signal and callsign on air.

Self spotting should be a ‘nice to have’ not a crutch that activators and chasers rely on.


Hi Andy, I assume from that statement you’re a purist who never self-spots? :wink:

Self-spotting is a technological advancement, as is InReach, RBN, rural cell coverage, APRS2SOTA and lately SOTAmãt. All part of the development of the hobby and SOTA programme. As a SOTA activator, we should embrace everything, and be ready for nothing (in terms of cell coverage). Finding alternative ways to spot is all part of it. We owe it to the Chasers.


Nope, I’m not missing the point but I answered your question “How do you cope when there’s no phone reception at summit?” with how you can almost guarantee reception at the summit.

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Fraser, why should you assume that? I said they were a ‘nice to have’, I never said one shouldn’t use them. You obviously didn’t read my earlier posts in this thread where I said I always alert and always try to self-spot.

If you read my previous 3 or 4 posts, what I object to is a chaser asking me to self-spot if I QSY after the initial chaser contact, especially if it’s because that chaser is having trouble hearing my signal.

The :wink: was a hint that I was joking.

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Okay, fine.

It’s often hard to tell from an emoji if the writer’s statement is really a joke or covering a serious point. In a heated debate like this where contributors are often talking past each other, I try to avoid any ambiguity by keeping it simple. So thanks for the clarification.

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There was consistently better EE coverage on The Hebrides than at home in the North Pennines. Just starting to see some new EE sites appearing locally. From memory struggled to spot on Rogan’s Seat and High Street in the last year or so so there are some summits that can be harder but it is getting better.

On the last few activations I have looked for a clear frequency to QSY to - checked it was free then spotted for 145.500 qsy to This will only work if the frequency stays clear and it is an extra faff for the activator.


Hi Andy,
While in the UK last year, in the Lake District in a spot where no Cell networks could get through, I had Vodafone and T-Mobile (Deutsche Telekom - uses the EE network I think) SIMs in my 4G LG smartphone (which supports VoLTE / WiFi Calling) but neither would work via the WiFi network where we were staying. In my 4G noname Android tablet however I had an O2 SIM installed - it worked - so it seems that whether these features work, also depends upon the service provider as well as the hardware. I swapped the SIMs around and could use the Smartphone via the O2 network over WiFi.
Wouldn’t it be great if all networks supported all features - but I guess that’s a pipe dream!

73 Ed.

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I have to say, I strongly believe that if “it is not a real spot” then it should not be submitted at all. Use the messaging feature within SOTAwatch. Create or add to a reflector thread. But please don’t clutter the spots - even if it is obviously fake.


Whoa - there is already a messaging feature in SOTAWatch? Tell me more. This is what I was suggesting in an earlier post - I did not realise it already existed. I can’t see it.

73 Ed.

Just sent you a PM Ed to test / illustrate.

Click on your profile pic above then on the mail icon.

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Messaging feature



Hi Ed!

Here it is.

Hi Tom - this is in the reflector, not in SOTAWatch.

My suggestion was to add a mode of “MESSAGE” to SotaWatch Spots - as the SOTAWatch website and all Apps have the ability to filter by Mode, those who want to see messages can do so and others who do not, can exclude the “mode” MESSAGE.
73 Ed.

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This will be controversial, but sounds like a gap that could be filled by WhatsApp.

Reaching for hard hat and retreating to a safe distance :joy:


Maybe we can add a way to BLOCK a stations call sign using the FILTERS on the SOTAwatch page?

Then if someones spots are is bugging u can choose to ignore them?

I realize this requires some software work…just a thought.



Yeah you have discovered the joy of VoLTE roaming. Or the lack of such :slight_smile: My phone (replaced this December just gone) would be on VoLTE in the UK all the time but when I was in Switzerland, Germany and France it would roam fine for text/data but the voice calls were in classic 4g. i.e. the phone would try to do 2G/3G circuit switched. That didn’t work anywhere in Germany as there’s no 2G or 3G networks. So voice calls didn’t work. Voice calls worked in France near Geneva but I can’t remember if I was on a French or Swiss network when on the summit in France overlooking Geneva.

Wifi calling was available but was not included in my roaming package. i.e. I’d be paying £’s/min for Wifi

As 2G/3G disappears the networks should be sorting out all of these issues. It reminds me of 1994 when I was first trying out roaming and what would and wouldn’t work. Was that 30 years ago? Sadly yes!

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I must confess that, as a chaser, I concluded long ago that it was best to ignore spots on the VHF FM calling frequency, at least partly because there are quite likely other (usually much stronger local) callers there, and I’ll not hear a distant SOTA station calling anyway. Also, assuming the activator has followed normal VHF practice, they’ll have moved to a clear (to them) frequency to complete their contact anyway, so if I want a follow-on contact I need to be there. Now, assuming the SOTA activator’s signal is such that I have to turn squelch off and pick their signal out of the noise, and the chaser they’re working is as far from them as I am, there’s a good chance even the chaser’s signal is going to be low. Of course, there’s also the chance that the channel they’ve chosen is in use near me, so there’s no chance I’ll catch the SOTA, but if they’ve spotted their working frequency then at least there’s a chance.

…and yes, if I’m going to work a SOTA activator on VHF FM it is very likely their signal will be close to the noise, and I may well have difficulty hearing them. I have decent VHF paths to three summits (G/WB-009, G/WB-019 and G/CE-003), and two of those are stretching the range of an HT unless it has a decent antenna. There are other VHF-reachable summits (like G/CE-001, G/CE-002, G/WB-006, G/WB-007, G/WB-014 and G/WB-018), but they’ll need good conditions or something stronger than an average HT at the summit end because the paths are sub-optimal. It often isn’t easy, but good spots help, and it’s good to catch them…


I’m with you Phil. I cannot see the point of a spot for 145.500 when the activator’s going to move away. I very rarely self spot but if I do it’s for the actual working frequency I am on. I’m perhaps lucky here in G/NP (or sometimes G/LD or G/SP) land that I can call CQ on S20 (V40) and usually get a response. Usually several chasers will follow us onto our working frequency but if it goes quiet I might self spot on the working frequency. I’ll also call CQ again on 145.500 and specify that I am listening on 145.550 or whatever.

Yesterday on G/NP-005 I had a massive pile up on 30m. It was hard work making out any stations and my brain just froze and couldn’t make out any CW characters. In the end I worked 52 stations in 40 minutes. At times I felt like switching off the radio because it was incessant sending. I was sent 44 many times so I think perhaps there were a number of WWFF chasers with nothing else to do…