I am now regularly based in Richmond-Upon-Thames.
And what a flipping nightmare it is from a mobile connectivity perspective.
Vodafone struggles to get anything more than Edge. And even when there’s an Edge signal, the 1.5k throughput is sufficient to query Google and nothing else.
Total unmitigated rubbish.
My solution was to refer to my Three handset and find that HSPA+ is rocking across the Richmond valley.
I went out on the second day of working in the town and bought a 3 MiFi unit — the new one, that I reviewed recently.
I patted myself on the back. Multiple times. Total genius, I was. I bougth a gig of data and used about 400mb of it across the week surfing away almost at broadband speeds.
I even connected my Vodafone BlackBerry to the MiFi hotspot. I found that especially galling given the stupid amount of money I pay to Vodafone each month. [Vodafone, you're the subject of another post: Do you seriously mean to tell me that your engineers have spent 6 months trying to get the mast working beyond Edge?]
It’s not like I’m talking about an area located somewhere in North Wales. Richmond-Upon-Thames is 9.2 miles from the Houses of Parliament. It’s as urban as you get.
A few people around me noted the Three MiFi and actually popped down to the local Three shop and picked up one. We’ve all been having a super time. Three’s got some new customers (who otherwise wouldn’t have given a damn about them — after all, the company still suffers from a massive image problem, something I’ve done my best to counter).
Everything was good until yesterday. All of a sudden, the Three data network just stopped working.
Vodafone’s network carried on at a literal snail’s pace.
Three just said NO SIGNAL on my (new) Three iPhone 4 and my MiFi.
I gave it a few minutes.
I waited an hour or so.
A colleague phoned up Three and gave our postcode.
Apparently they knew about the issue.
The afternoon arrived. Nothing.
I recognised that I’d come to depend on Three.
What a mistake to make.
The network was non-existent for most of yesterday.
This morning, nothing.
Mid-way through the day, my MiFi unit suddenly found a signal, send/received 115k of data and … boom… promptly returned to zero signal.
It’s almost been 48-hours.
Again, it’s not like we’re in deepest darkest Wales, where it takes 11 hours via especially equipped Land Rover to reach the mast.
My expectation is that Three is running a carrier grade network.
Carrier grade means… well, let’s see what Wikipedia reckons:
In telecommunication, a “carrier grade” or “carrier class” refers to a system, or a hardware or software component that is extremely reliable, well tested and proven in its capabilities. Carrier grade systems are tested and engineered to meet or exceed “five nines” high availability standards, and provide very fast fault recovery through redundancy (normally less than 50 milliseconds).
To be clear, for most of today it’s been possible to make a telephone call with the Three network. And even send an SMS.
Absolutely not: About a billion miles away from ‘carrier grade‘. More like ‘hamster grade‘.
If I get to Richmond tomorrow and find there is STILL no data connectivity in the area, I honestly don’t know what I’ll do.
I can’t quite imagine how I’d react to a mobile service provider that can’t provide basic functionality to a reasonable service level, let alone ‘carrier grade’.
If it doesn’t work tomorrow, I will:
- demand a refund of my Three WiFi
- cancel my newly initiated 24-month iPhone 4 contract on Three
- cancel my half-spent 18-month Nokia N86 on Three
- cancel my Three USB dongle
A back-of-the-fag-packet calculation reveals I spend about £1,400 a year with Three alone.
Fix it, Three. Fix it.
Update: Well, I’m pleased to say that Three picked up the post and discovered a fault with the local base station the next morning. It was back and operational within a few hours. Good news.