Connectivity issues

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

I was in London today, at a venue on Southwark Street and I was surprised to have connectivity issues, not just with my home iPhone on the Three network, but also with my work phone on Vodafone.

I don’t know why the connections were so poor, certainly both phones had high signal bars. We were on the seventh floor, which I have found isn’t usually an issue, but today, poor bandwidth or sometimes non-existent bandwidth.

It didn’t help matters that the guest wifi wasn’t working either.

All was fine by the time I got to Paddington.

What? No visual voicemail!

no visual voicemail

My work iPhone was recently switched from O2 to Vodafone. Initially I didn’t notice too much difference, true tethering has been useful now and again. However one big difference has come up that is slightly annoying. It would appear on Vodafone you don’t get visual voicemail as you do with O2. As a result if you get voicemail you need to dial 121 to see who has left you a message and how many messages you have.

I believe that the only way that this can be fixed is at carrier level and if the “complaints” on the Vodafone forums are anything to go by then Vodafone aren’t in any hurry to add this feature.

Is this a critical flaw? No but it an annoying one!

Making the Switch

Due to some changes at work I have switched my work iPhone from O2 to Vodafone.

It was a relatively painless process. The phone needed to be “unlocked” by O2 and my number ported to Vodafone. I think I was without service for about an hour, but no more than that.

Using Vodafone now means I get coverage at the Forest of Dean campus at Gloucestershire College, which had minimal to zero coverage for O2 and T-Mobile. Working in the forest has made me realise how difficult it can be for rural communities to utilise mobile devices as the connectivity can be very poor or non-existent.

One of the advantages of having the iPhone unlocked is that if I ever take it abroad I should be able to now use a local SIM.

Another advantage is I can now use my iPhone for tethering, however due to the additional cost, I won’t be using that, that often, but it’s useful to have it “just in case”.

So far a week into the new service, I’ve not noticed too much of a difference. I have had a few connectivity issues, but nothing that much different when I had O2.

3G-less areas mapped

So you want to use 3G and you have no idea if it’s going to be worth it.

So in London it is possible with HDSPA to get 7.2Mbps, but in rural areas you generally only get GPRS speeds and that is like a very slow dial-up connection!

Hopefuly Ofcom will be able do something about this.

The BBC News reports:

There are still significant notspots when it comes to 3G mobile coverage in the UK, regulator Ofcom has revealed.

It has pledged to investigate why some places, particularly in rural areas, are still failing to get any coverage.

It also said it will investigate mobile broadband speeds, which vary tremendously in different areas and at different times of day.

Personally I am a great fan of 3G, I was on Vodafone 3G when it first came out in 2004 and since then have used them, T-Mobile and 3.

Picture source

Now I know I can’t work or play without a 3G connection, if I am on holiday in an area without 3G I find it very frustrating. It’s not that I want to spend my holiday online, but so much we do these days is dependent on knowing information, opening times, route planners, online reviews, communication; without a decent internet connection you can feel a little lost. Though it has to be said to be totally internet free can be somewhat refreshing.

Hopefully one day there will be greater 3G coverage, or whatever takes over form 3G will have greater coverage.

Vodafone “hides” price rises

BBC reports on criticism of Vodafone about recent “hidden” price rises.

The National Consumer Council (NCC) has criticised Vodafone for increasing mobile phonecall costs without telling its customers.

Vodafone plans to raise minimum call charges by 25%.

But a letter inserted into July’s bills stated the new price list but failed to mention they were going up.

Well, not having much success…

I have been using a Vodafone USB 3G stick with my Sony VAIO UX1XN with some success now. However downside is that it sticks out the side and I do worry it might break off (which would be annoying).

I do have a T-Mobile phone and a 3G data plan with them, which allows me to use my phone as a modem. This has worked fine on my Mac, but I decided it would be good to use it with my UX1XN.

However I not having much sucess.

I first tried the Nokia N series software, which required about 100MB of stuff to be downloaded…

This eventually installed, and after I had paired with my Nokia N95, I expected things to go smoothly.

However it failed to make a connection as it said that the modem was being used by another application.

This unhelpful error was because the modem drivers needed resinstalling and the help unhelpfully said that, but didn’t say how to do it!

So after a few attempts, I gave up and used System Restore to rid myself of the Nokia software.

I then tried the standard Nokia software (which also works with N series phones) and alas everytime I tried to to get a connection, the Bluetooth software would case a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD).

Using Windows Me I would get BSOD all the time, with Windows XP it was quite a rare occurence. On Windows Vista on the UX1XN I get them all the time, I keep having Windows Me flashbacks.

After a couple of attempts, I decided to use the VAIO Update feature to see what new drivers  were available.

So have spent the best part of a day, downloading updates and installing them. The automatic updates took their time, but there were a bundle of non-automatic updates, most of which consisted of:

Download update

Uninstall software


Install new software


It wouldn’t be so bad, but Windows Vista on the UX1XN takes an age to start up.

Getting there, final update being installed, will try Nokia software again!

Fast, really fast

Most of the time I am using my Vodafone 3G USB stick is with my Mac. I have though recently been using it with a Sony VAIO UX1XN. One of the key differences is that the Vodafone connection software in Windows gives you a lot more information on the connection than it does on a Mac.

Using it recently I was pleasantly surprised by a couple of things.

Firstly speed. Now Vodafone advertises that you can get 7.2Mbps on the stick, which to be honest I believe only happens in London or outside Vodafone HQ! Having used 3G for many years now I was impressed with the 384Kbps I got back then. Using the stick here in deepest Somerset I was pleased to find I was getting a steady 1Mbps.

Secondly warnings. I was using the 3G connection to download some Nokia installation files, there was a fair bit of data coming down, when I hit 50MB a pop-up popped up and said warning 50Mb data had gone through the stick. I thought that this was pretty neat especially if you are on a pay as you go connection or near your fair use limit.

Overall I am still impressed with 3G and if you are in the right spot you wouldn’t realise that you were on basically a mobile phone connection.

Vodafone told off on “unlimited” ad

The ASA have upheld a complaint about a Vodafone advert which according to the ASA implied unlimited mobile internet.

The advert said “Any website, any time. £7.50 a month. Make the most of now.” It was only in the small print at the bottom of the advert which said that there was in fact a 120MB limit!

The ASA said

However, we considered that consumers would also infer from the headline claim that they could access the internet as often as they liked for £7.50 a month.

We noted there was a disclaimer stating “120MB UK data allowance per month” at the bottom of the ad, but considered that this was not prominent enough to avoid being overlooked and also that it contradicted the impression created by the headline claim. We considered that the download allowance was a significant condition attached to the service and was likely to influence consumers’ decisions about whether to purchase the product. Because that information was not stated in, or immediately next to, the headline claim, we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead about the nature of the service being offered.

I have to agree with the ASA, the implication of the advert was any time, any where, when ever you wanted. However a 120MB download limit in this era of photographs, YouTube’esque video, audio podcasts and other media-rich internet means that 120Mb (even on a phone) would not really be sufficient for a month, and I suspect a lot of users would go over this limit and then be hit with high charges.

Full adjudication.

LG Viewty growing on me…

My T-Mobile LG Viewty is growing on me.

Okay this is no replacement for Apple’s iPhone, but the more I use it and the more I get use to the touch interface, the more I quite like it.

Where I think it is starting to win me over, especially over Nokia phones such as the N73 and the N95 is on text entry input, especially when in landscape mode.

In landscape mode when browsing I have a full QWERTY keyboard which makes typing entries into Twitter or Jaiku so much easier than trying to use T9 on a numerical keyboard.

There are still a few downsides, it still crashes on me for example. I don’t like how to scroll down in webpages – on menus you use the dial on the camera lens, but on the browser the dial on the lens works as a zoom function! The touch interface is nowhere near as good as the iPhone (or the iPod touch) but is still quite nice once you get use to it.

I even managed to upload a photograph to Flickr today, not using Shozu, but the mobile Flickr interface – thought this won’t work if you use Vodafone.

Overall I am growing to like this phone.