Vodafone Sure Signal review
|Review: April 2012|
In a nutshell: The Vodafone Sure Signal connects to a fixed broadband line in your home or office and provides a reliable Vodafone 3G voice and data connection. A must-have gadget for everyone working from home.
Getting a good mobile phone signal is a problem a lot of us have to face, whether it's from home or office, so the Vodafone Sure Signal appears to offer a perfect solution. Set up a Vodafone Sure Signal, and you have a 3G transmitter & receiver wherever you want, as long as you connect it to a fixed-line broadband modem or router. OK, so you can't carry it around with you, but you can set it up in your home or office and it will provide you with 3G coverage in the building. Data is transmitted via your fixed broadband connection, providing you with a full voice and data service that should be indistinguishable from a normal 3G service.
We tested the device in a house located far from any towns, and with thick stone walls, where mobile reception usually varies between zero and one bar and where 3G has not been seen in living memory. We used a BT Business Total Broadband 8Mbps connection and a BT Business Hub.
Setting up the Sure Signal was easy enough, once we realised that the instructions supplied by Vodafone were incorrect. Start by logging into the Vodafone website with your account username and password and click "Register your Sure Signal." Enter the postcode of the location where the device is to be used, the serial number (printed on the back of the device), the floor level on which you'll be installing the device and register a list of mobile numbers that are authorised to access the service (so passers-by and neighbours won't be able to piggyback on your 3G signal.) The list of authorised numbers can include any 3G devices with Vodafone SIM cards, including mobile broadband USB modems. Up to 32 numbers can be registered.
Once you've completed this registration process, you connect your Sure Signal to your modem using the supplied ethernet cable (you'll need a spare ethernet socket on your modem or router), plug it into the mains and switch on. The device then powers up and can take up to an hour to configure itself. In our test it took 30 minutes. You should only need to do this once, as the device stays on 24/7.
Once fully configured, any registered device can make calls or transmit data over the 3G network. Over a period of one month testing, we found the service to be very reliable, although not 100% solid. In the room where the Sure Signal was installed, registered mobiles showed a full 3G signal all the time. Call quality was excellent, although one call was dropped and on one occasion the 3G network disappeared, which was solved by rebooting the Sure Signal device. Data transfer speeds were usually around 0.5MB per second (4Mbps) for file sizes up to 14MB. This was probably a limitation of the fixed broadband connection.
The maximum range of the device seems to be about 40 metres, which is enough for a typical house or a small office. At a distance of 20 metres, with three intervening walls, the 3G signal dropped to about two bars and data transfer slowed by 50%. We didn't test the device with multiple phones, but Vodafone say that the maximum number of simultaneous users is four.
You may be worried about the health implications of installing a mobile transmitter in your home or office, but the Sure Signal emits a lower level of electromagnetic radiation than a standard wireless router, which in turn is much less than a normal mobile phone antenna. This is why the range of the device is so limited.
We found that the Sure Signal did the job it was intended for. Whilst the signal wasn't bullet-proof, it was probably as reliable as the kind of signal you'd enjoy in most city centres, with only one call lost in a period of one month. Data transfer was very fast and reliable. If you live in the country, or in a basement or other blackspot, then the Sure Signal will solve your reception problems. And if you work from home or have a small office, then the cost of buying the Sure Signal greatly outweighs the benefits. We'd have awarded it 5 stars if we hadn't dropped that one call.
Vodafone Sure Signal features include:
- Works with up to 32 registered 3G phones, laptops with 3G modems, and USB 3G modem sticks
- Up to four simultaneous users
- Works with Vodafone SIM cards only
- Requires a fixed broadband service with a spare ethernet connection on the modem/router
Vodafone Sure Signal user reviews
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Average rating from 7 reviews:
Reviewed by Mike G
on 25th Feb 2015
The Sure Signal maybe promise a lot and perhaps it can work under the right circumstances but ... after owning one for 2 days I am still not able to get it to work.
The installation guide promises very simple set up. According to the installation guide, you register it online; plug into your router; power up and you are done.
The reality is a million miles away. What they do not tell you, is the chances of it working following these simple steps is close to ZERO.
Once you contact technical support, the real trial begins.
Vodafone will tell you to set all manner of port forwards on your router; something like 10 ports, a mix of TCP and UDP protocols need to be forwarded to the sure signal; whoa I hear you say, what does all that mean - spend many hours trying to figure out all that! Basically, for an averagely literate computer user, this is still complex stuff and requires that you get into your routers advanced configuration and risk opening your home network to the whole world if you make a mistake.
Even after doing this it still does not work - ah, perhaps your ISP is not on the Vodafone whitelist - whoa, what does that all mean. Again, you are in the realms of internet and network protocols.
Vodafone request traceroutes, ping tests, speed tests details of your IP be posted PUBLICLY!
I wish I could report that even after all that, the trials and tribulations were worth it - sadly I cannot. After 2 days, still no working sure signal despite following all the guidance and advice.
I am sure under the covers, the technology is okay but in a world of consumer devices this falls very very short of the plug and play appliances we are all so used to. Vodafone do not help matters by making their own servers that service the sure signal so hidden from the web that individual ISPs must be permissioned on their firewalls that they use network methods really not appropriate to domestic use.
It's a shame.
Reviewed by Fithian
on 13th Jan 2015
All the users here are muppets, I'm sorry, but you are. I worked for years in Tech support and you people are the absolute worst people to deal with. You're completely and utterly inept, so you blame the equipment.
A monkey could set up a Suresignal.
Plug it into a power socket.
Plug the supplied ethernet into the DSL socket on the Suresignal
Plug the other end into your router.
Go online and register for a voda account
Register your sure signal and phone numbers.
if you can't do any of the above, then I can only assume you must carry a card around with you saying "Breath in, breath out".
Reviewed by John Harvey
from United Kingdom
on 15th Nov 2014
Chronically difficult to set up unless you're a smart arse or a tech wizard. I'm neither, but my home uses three Vodafone mobiles. I got a friend to help but I'm not convinced this gizmo has improved my reception.
Reviewed by Steve P
on 3rd Sep 2014
Advertised as "Sure Signal", it's anything but!
Regular dropping of calls and poor voice quality when it does connect. To be fair I live well out in the sticks and I think the issue is a combination of poor broadband speed and a lack of IT knowledge on my part. This is exacerbated by a support team that appear to operate to a script and give a fixed response to a given issue.
Overall not impressed as all of this limits my ability to work from home when I can't connect to conference calls on a reliable basis.
Reviewed by Sarah terry
on 13th Jun 2014
We are very disappointed and haven't been able to register for a vodaphone account let alone register the sure signal as we don't get a mobile signal to receive the text with the code. Wish we hadn't bothered. Spent far too long using live chat, not successful and drove a few miles to try and pick up the text.
Any advice gratefully received!
Reviewed by WS
on 3rd Jun 2014
Rural area. Without sure signal two bars in one spot in the house standing by window. With sure signal four bars but only in the same room as the unit is plugged in. A straight forward automatic setting up procedure with a text from Vodafone to verify connection completed. At least I can now send and receive text from home, but at a cost of £100 for the unit to work in only one room makes it an expensive option.
Reviewed by Barry Simms
from UK. Leicestershire
on 3rd Apr 2014
It should be noted that Vodafone Sure Signal will drop calls if your internet DOWNLOAD SPEED drops below 0.50 mb or even 1.0 mb so you need to do
speed test.net to keep eye on your I.P whoever it is.
Another thing Vodafone (tech support) say we only garantee the product for 12 months from sale and registration after that your on your own
"is this consumer right legal ? " after all you are paying for a service of 3G in 2014 from them Whos responability is it to provide that monthly or contract period ? Any body checked this out yet what chance of you getting 4G in 2020.
For your information Vodafone are on Version 3 some customers are authorised by LEVEL 3 team head office in Newbury to free replacements on renewal after contract negotiations .other than that pay up and move on it gets you there only for now though.