Everything Everywhere (EE)
Vodafone Sure Signal Review
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.
Features of the Vodafone Sure Signal include:
Vodafone Sure Signal User Reviews
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