Lost in Bern: Why the Swiss city is one of the worst places in Europe for sat navs

Lost in Bern: Why the Swiss city is one of the worst places in Europe for sat navs

A new study by British comparison site has found that Bern is the seventh-worst city in Europe for GPS signals. The study found that the signal dropped out 47 times during the test in Switzerland’s capital, meaning drivers may have to ask for directions to get around the cobbled streets.

Sofia ranked as having the worst signal for sat navs in Europe

The study looked at how strong GPS signals are in the urban areas of Europe, to see how each connection can affect driving accuracy, safety and overall journey times. To calculate each city's score, analysts looked at the total number of GPS satellite failures, download speeds on local internet, and internet latency within each city between January and April 2021. These results were then converted into a score out of 100, with 0 being the best.

The study found that Sofia had the worst GPS signal in Europe, with slow download speeds and high latency amounting to a total score of 91,97. Worldwide, Port-au-Prince in Haiti had the worst connection.

Bern suffers from low download speeds and many signal blackouts

In Switzerland, Bern was found to have the seventh-worst GPS signal in Europe, with a failure score of 72,43. While it scored well in internet latency, found that download speeds were especially low, with 47 complete “blackouts” detected during the test where the signal was lost completely.

Zurich found itself mid-table in 15th place, with faster download speeds, lower latency and fewer blackouts. On the opposite side of the list, Paris was the best city for sat navs, with a perfect score of 0. The question remains: why is Bern’s GPS connection so poor?

According to Christine Früh, head of geoinformation for Bern’s council (Gemeinde), the way the city is constructed makes it especially difficult for satellites. “You need a line of sight,” she said, explaining that the narrow old streets and the fact that the city is oriented east to west - while most satellites are oriented to the south - means that there are often buildings in the way.

Top 10 worst cities for satellite navigation in Europe analysed how well sat navs fare in cities around Europe. The top 10 worst cities in Europe for GPS signals were:

  1. Sofia (91,97)
  2. Barcelona (90,83)
  3. Stockholm (88,53)
  4. Ankara (83,93)
  5. Luxembourg (82,77)
  6. Madrid (73,60)
  7. Bern (72,43)
  8. Hamburg (67,83)
  9. Helsinki (65,50)
  10. Lisbon (63,20)

With scores like these, it may be better for the inhabitants of these cities to ditch the sat nav and use a map.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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