What can one guy in a BMW with a bag full of cell phones do for you?

He can test the city s cellular network, one block at a time.

It s all for a company called RootMetrics. The Bellevue-based firm created a free app that allows you to compare carriers all over the country.

It allows you to look at a map and see who s going to be the best carrier for you and the locations that are going to be important to you, said Bill Moore, RootMetrics CEO.

Remember that BMW full of phones? That s going around town collecting data and sending it to the company s server. App users who test their phones will also become part of that same data pool.

That information is placed on a map. Green means good coverage. Red or black is bad and could mean more dropped calls and slower data speeds.

But it s typical because there are too many people on that particular cell tower or that technology didn t hand off real well from that cell tower to the next cell tower, Moore said.

Moore said the best areas for all carriers in Seattle are the Space Needle and the waterfront. The reason: There are lots of open space and cell towers.

The CEO s conclusion is clear.

Lack of congestion, said Moore. You got a lot of foot traffic here, a few people doing it, most people taking in the sights, not talking on their phones. A few pictures being uploaded but other than that, you re not taxing the networks right here.

Among Seattle s worst is the Ravenna neighborhood. And what s to blame?

There s a lot of park over here where you re never going to get a cell tower, explained Moore. There are a lot of ingrained neighborhoods and older buildings. And then you ve also got a lot of huge trees in the area that are mature, so it s probably a combination of those things.

If you live near the I-5 corridor in Seattle, get ready for a data backup. Six spots on the freeway are among the region s worst. It s just too many users in a single area.

The app s maps allow users to compare provider s performance at home and workplace. This lets you make an informed choice before you get tied up into a two year contract.

So which carrier has RootMetrics best score?

It s Verizon, followed by T-Mobile, AT&T is next and then Sprint.

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