Feeds

Vodafone silences punters in mini-mast upgrade bungle

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Vodafone customers relying on Sure Signal boxes for mobile connectivity have been hit by an update that left them less connected than ever.

The boxes are femtocells – small cellular base stations – hooked up to punters' broadband connections to boost Voda's phone network in areas with patchy coverage.

Not every Sure Signal box was affected, but a vocal minority of users have taken to the Vodafone forums to complain that the overnight update knocked out their connectivity, though some are reporting that the recommended turn-it-off-and-back-on-again procedure fixes the problem.

The update was sent out on Tuesday morning and promptly prevented many users from making outgoing calls. Those seeking support were frustrated by a lack of official response (echoed in our own inability to get anything official from Vodafone on the matter) with a recommendation to try power-cycling everything (including the broadband router) finally getting posted on Tuesday evening.

The problem is that Sure Signal, in common with other femtocell devices, has to listen for a long time before deciding on a radio frequency to use. When it was launched, a Sure Signal box could take six hours to boot up, and while that's now down to around an hour, the customers still felt they were being fobbed off with the request.

Sure Signal is Vodafone's branded femtocell, a tiny phone mast which routes calls over the public internet using the customer's broadband connection. When launched it broke the belief that femtocells could only be deployed where the mobile operator also provided the broadband connection to ensure quality of service.

By operating over the public internet, Sure Signal can't guarantee quality, but given the speed of most internet connections, and the minimal requirements of a voice call, there's normally enough bandwidth to spare (Vodafone recommends a minimum of 1MB/sec).

But as market leader Vodafone has suffered from more that its share of technical hiccups, upsetting many Sure Signal users who are required to buy the box, and to pay for calls as well as paying for the bandwidth over which they're carried. Other operators, including O2 and Three, also have femtocell products but don't promote or sell them, only offering them as freebies to valued customers who complain loudly enough about a lack of coverage.

So slow has the femtocell revolution become that the Femtocell Forum has renamed itself the "Small Cell Forum" as the technology developed for femtos percolates upwards into micro-, mini- and macro-network components. But femtocells do continue to slowly propagate – only coming to our attention when they fail, as Vodafone's did on Tuesday. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
HBO shocks US pay TV world: We're down with OTT. Netflix says, 'Gee'
This affects every broadcaster, every cable guy
Same old iPad? NO. The new 'soft SIMs' are BIG NEWS
AppleSIM 'ware to allow quick switch of carriers
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
iPhone 6 shunned by fanbois in Apple's GREAT FAIL of CHINA
Just 100 Beijing fanbois queue to pick up new mobe
Brits: Google, can you scrape 60k pages from web, pleeease
Hey, c'mon Choc Factory, it's our 'right to be forgotten'
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.