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Vodafone Punts Box to Boost Home 3G Reception

Gordon Kelly by

Vodafone Punts Box to Boost Home 3G Reception

So here's a product which is bound to conjure mixed emotions...

The 'Vodafone Access Gateway' is a small plug-in box designed to significantly boost customers' mobile phone signals in their homes. It is the first of its kind anywhere in Europe and simply connects to any home broadband line to enhance indoor 3G coverage. The Gateway can support up to four simultaneous voice calls and could prove a revelation for Vodafone subscribers living in areas with poor signal.

"The Vodafone Access Gateway will boost indoor mobile phone coverage for customers who today, find they need to move around the rooms in their home to get a consistent signal strength," said Vodafone consumer director Ian Shepherd, Consumer Director, Vodafone UK. "We are committed to delivering the best, most reliable network and this is another step towards maintaining a seamless service."

The Gateway does come after 12 months in which Vodafone has brought live over 1500 new 3G and 2G base stations, but it acknowledges there are still some locations that suffer from poor coverage.

No here's the counterpoint: when it goes on sale on 1 July, the Gateway won't be cheap. It can be bundled onto an existing customer contract to absorb purchase price but it will still cost you up to £15 per month. The alternative is to pay the one-off £160 RRP.

Now personally, as handy as this could be, I'd suggest it's easier to just change networks. Every network has patchy coverage in certain areas but only in the utter wilderness are they normally all defeated. Find out what network works for you, save the £160 and buy a better phone/get a better contract/bank it.

That said, at least you now have more options...


Vodafone Access Gateway Product Page (Coming Soon)

Go to comments

Tony Walker

June 24, 2009, 5:08 am

Femto cell to you.

Blinkin' would be Vodafone who release first. O2 have been trialling I believe (and I am waiting on their product).

With regards to "just change provider" there is but one small flaw. What if the phone you really, really want (cough, iphone, cough, Pre,cough) are only available (at non exorbitant cost) on one network?

prag fest

June 24, 2009, 12:21 pm

This is actually dead cool and I'm afraid you have somewhat missed the point of it Gordon.

sj 3

June 24, 2009, 1:15 pm

WOW - I been waiting for this to hit the UK - now if only O2 would get this to market and if only Gordon would stop bashing the mobile phone networks (again!). I wonder which network he uses, if any?

Stephen Hammond

June 24, 2009, 1:32 pm

Hey it would be brilliant to get 3g access in my home I could use it for mobile internet and get rid of the landline... Hey wait a minute ... ?


June 24, 2009, 2:08 pm

@Stephen Hammond:

Hahaha, very droll :¬D

Ed Churchward

June 24, 2009, 2:18 pm

This must be designed for corporate users who have VPN access via their mobile data card. I can see companies rolling these out rather than giving dedicated ADSL lines in houses. I think they will be very popular.


June 24, 2009, 2:22 pm

I live in a village but it's not the wilderness. It's just outside Peterborough. We have no 3G coverage from any network, and standard 2G coverage is very poor for all networks except T-Mobile. If I was tied to Vodafone (for example through my business) then I would buy one today.

Hamish Campbell

June 24, 2009, 2:49 pm

I would have thought it would be a stand-alone unit that was just like a powerful cell antennae.....or maybe you could call it a personal cell tower. So it could utilise the weak 3G coverage.

If you've got broadband anyway you're gonna use wifi for data stuff anyway and 2G for calling.


June 24, 2009, 3:18 pm

Ok have I missed something, or will you now be paying £150 on top of your own broadband connection charge to now use your phones 3G connection and presumably at its exorbitant data charge per Mb and only for your own house? or do vodafone not count and charge data downloaded through this new box and some other companies broadband connection. in which case this would appear to be a phone to wifi conversion box rather than a 3g booster, makes me glad my phone has wifi built in


June 24, 2009, 3:35 pm

@Ed Churchward > The product is primarily designed for consumers but will eventually be available to corporate customers. You need an ADSL line for the Gateway to connect to the Internet and deliver the full 3G signal.

@haim > These 3G Boosters that you are refering to are also being trialed but their biggest problem is that they rely on existing 3G network covergage outside your home. For many people this is just nonexistent and the solution is not as easy to install or reliable as a femtocell.

@whisperwolf > The Gateway requires that you already have a fixed broadband connection. The focus is on providing the user with much improved 3G coverage for voice and texts. You can use 3G data services but as you rightly say, many people will continue to use their broadband directly via WiFi. With most networks including Vodafone offering vast or unlimited data bundles, the use of 3G data isn't as big of a cost issue as it used to be.

On a personal level, the product is fantastic and the views from customers who have had no or very poor coverage are very positive.


June 24, 2009, 3:50 pm

Hmm. Could this be used for e.g. roaming at an office abroad?

Hamish Campbell

June 24, 2009, 4:11 pm

Well if I lived on a farm maybe I'd stick one on the roof and I'd have coverage for quite a distance around home.


June 24, 2009, 4:29 pm

So what are the health implications like for having a cell tower in the bedroom?


June 24, 2009, 4:31 pm

£15/month... really? But this device is absolutely pointless. It connects to your existing broadband to give you fast 3G in the home. But surely all smartphones can use wi-fi, so what am I paying £15/month for? For 'improved' 3G voice quality... but I'm at home... I can use a fixed phone or Skype or whatever? Bonkers for the average home user. (I reserve the right to have missed the point completely, as it does indeed seem to have _no point_ to me!)

Rajiv Dhir

June 24, 2009, 5:19 pm

Well I just spoke to someone who lives in a house with thick stone external walls and has poor coverage even in the garden. They need this. Their kids want to be contactable by cellphone/text and can't, which cramps their lifestyle, and the mother finds no-one calls her cellphone because they never get through. Husband is ok because he works is and artist who works in a studio with windows (light).

I'd also imagine that you'd persudae Vodafone to offer it free if switching a family, so yes it'll cost you a bit of bandwidth, but the kids'll stop moaning - priceless.

3G vs GSM - who cares which, it'll still be broadband via WiFi/Ethernet in the home, it probably makes 0-50pence maufacturing difference to make a femtocell with 3G chipset over GSM, so why not use the higher capacity solution.

Ed Churchward

June 24, 2009, 5:34 pm

@Orinj: I have many friends who have to have 2 ADSL lines installed, their home one and then a restricted business one so they can VPN into their office. I can see this being a great way for companies to securely tunnel into their own networks without the need of installing a second BT line and ADSL connection at their workers houses. Just my two cents.


June 24, 2009, 6:13 pm

What's to stop other users who live nearby attaching to it? Do I get paid by Vodafone for extending their network if others do take advantage?


June 24, 2009, 6:28 pm

Vodafone can take a run and jump. Having been unfortunate enough to experience their mobile broadband I will never go near them again. Despite living in city centre Edinburgh I was unable to muster little more than dial up speeds and their customer care didnt really seem to care. In short, they can shove it!


June 24, 2009, 6:40 pm

So this acts as a 3G {only?} cell tower for voice/data - so you have to pay Vodafone again to provide the service you already pay for!

What speed of data is supported {e.g. up to 7.2Mbps HSPA}? Obviously the speed will also be limited by your DSL connection

As you are paying {or coming off your allowance} for the cost of carrying the phone data over your DSL connection to Vodafone, can you restrict what can connect to it {i.e. wouldn't want neighbours/passers by using your femto cell}

Do you have to pay Vodafone data charges for the data that doesn't even cross the Vodafone air network?

Still quite cool though!


June 24, 2009, 6:55 pm

@timple - I guess you've just given the reason why Vodafone requires you to register the phones it will be used with (according to BBC News).

Also, the BBC article makes it clear that it is £5/month on top of your existing contract if you don't want to buy the box outright, which is more palatable than £15/month.

@Rajiv - I take your point about kids texting/lifestyle/etc. I think they'll need a 3G handset, which the cheaper PAYG generally aren't; I was told it does nothing for 2G (not even voice & SMS).

I'm still not sold, but maybe if I had kids they'd disagree!

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