Sigh; it’s been another long, long rugby match length phone call with Vodafone.
Paul from the second line technical was an absolutely star but the reason the phone call was quite so long it that we were trying to untangle why my mobile broadband is so slow when connecting via a Sure Signal box.
The background was a series of emails to and from Customer Services where the common themes were (a) inconsistent information about how Sure Signal and mobile broadband interact, (b) what sort of speeds you can get for mobile broadband via Sure Signal and (c) answering my emails in such haste / with such stock replies that the emails sent to me didn’t actually address the points I’d raised in my emails.
What seems to be the case is that there is widespread ignorance amongst Vodafone staff as to how Sure Signal and mobile broadband work together. Unfortunately, rather than therefore there being lots of people who say “I don’t know”, there are lots of people who give wrong or incomplete answers to questions such as, “What speed can I expect if my mobile broadband is being piped via the Sure Signal box?” or “Does the data I use count against the data volumes with my fixed line broadband ISP as well as counting against the data volumes for my Vodafone mobile broadband contract?”.
So here’s what I’ve finally learnt, with the help of Paul:
- If you are using mobile broadband with a Sure Signal box, the data goes down your fixed line broadband. Therefore any congestion on the ISP’s network will have an impact. In addition, data downloads will count against your total downloads with your ISP.
- The connection speed will be much, much slower than that of your fixed line broadband. At first I was told that it would be a bit less (because some of the connection is used for managing the Sure Signal box) and also could be reduced if you have other devices using the fixed line at the same time (e.g. a desktop computer).
- However, that’s not really the full story. Both are true – but in fact the limiting speed factor is the design of my Sure Signal box, which only provides a 3G signal with a 384 kbps download speed.
In other words, far far slower than a mobile broadband connection from Vodafone should be.
So rather a shame that the person in the shop when asked “Does it work with mobile broadband?” said “Yes” rather than “Yes, but…”. Rather a shame too that the people in the Sure Signal support team, when having their own customer service meltdown with me, never mentioned this issue either even when checking that my portable with mobile broadband SIM had registered correctly with the Sure Signal. Also rather odd that none of the documentation I got with the Sure Signal box made this clear. After all, we’re all used to the small footnote that explains how your broadband speed may well not be the advertised headline figure.
Ah well. Given how hard it was for Paul to dig out the answer, credit to Paul for that but the conclusion surely is – don’t use Sure Signal for mobile broadband.