Do you have a bad mobile signal in the one place you want to use it most? It’s a more common problem than you may think. Whilst networks do their utmost to provide the best service they can, it’s hard for them to legislate for people with basement flats or metal structures in the workplace. This is where the Vodafone Sure Signal aims to stand in by using your broadband to provide you with your very own Vodafone hotspot.
This is the latest iteration of the Sure Signal. The last one was a standalone box, whereas this is a compact unit that sits on your mains socket. It even acts as a pass-through, so that you can still plug something else into the same socket.
- Great signal for up to 32 users
- Ease of setup
- Need for it and your router to be left on
What you get
The small box contains the Vodafone Sure Signal – a plug-top unit that reminds me of one of those timers you use for turning lights on and off automatically. There’s also an ethernet cable and a quick start guide.
Dimensions: – 142 x 72 x 38 mm
Weight: – 250g
Output power: 20mW (13dBm)
Form factor: Femtocell Plug
Ports: 2 x Ethernet, reset button, Pass through AC power connector
Features: Up to 30 m radius coverage, up to 8 concurrent calls, Supports
3rd party DSL connectivity
Box content: Main unit, Ethernet cable, Quick Start Guide incl. certificates
This is the most difficult part of using the Sure Signal, and it’s dead easy! The first thing you do is log in to your Vodafone account though their website using your mobile phone number or a username you may have already created. Next you use the ‘manage your Sure Signal’ link to register the unit to the address you’re using it at, click a couple of confirmation emails, then plug it in to the mains and the ethernet cable to a spare socket on your router. Don’t worry if your router only has one port, there’s a second ethernet connection on the bottom of the Sure Signal where you can plug your computer/television/games/console/printer/fridge/death ray into).
You will now have to wait for the unit to do its initialisation, which you can follow via four LEDs on the front of it. These go through various flashing sequences and colours. The quick-start guide has an explanation of what the colour codes mean, but the easiest way to see if it’s ready is to see the signal bars on your phone leap up to maximum.
There really isn’t much to it after installation. Just sit back and enjoy your new 3G signal. There is a simple management console on the Vodafone website that allows you to control who can access your Sure Signal, meaning that nobody can leach from your hotspot unless you want them to.
The claimed range of the Sure Signal is 30 metres, but I couldn’t test that conclusively, because by the time I got that far away I was in range of a normal Vodafone signal. I have no reason to doubt their figures though, and I’m sure that the vast majority of users will be perfectly happy with this range.
One downside is for those people who don’t like leaving their router on all the time. If you want phone reception, then both the router and Sure Signal will need to be on.
The Sure Signal does exactly what it says on the box and it does it well, without fuss.
The matter of value for money is an interesting one. For me, £100 is a lot of money. Conside the extra data charges that will appear on your broadband bill from using your phone. A number of people I’ve spoken to about it have said that Vodafone should be providing Sure Signal boxes free to customers on contracts. I can see this as a good marketing ploy, but that’s open to abuse by people who think losing one bar of signal is unacceptable.
The bottom line is that if you need a Vodafone signal and there’s no other way for you to get it, then £100 is the price you have to pay. At least you get a well built, high quality, easy to use piece of kit for your dollar.