The mobile reality: I’m in Richmond and I can only get EDGE

Well then. Yet again I am reminded of how supremely rubbish the mobile industry is. Occasionally I manage to pull myself out of this stupor and allow myself to get very excited at the possibilities. Then reality slaps me on the face with a big, wet haddock.

I’ve been doing some work in Richmond-Upon-Thames. Near the Vodafone shop. In fact, if I squint, I can see the Vodafone shop. You’d think that would mean in this particular affluent London suburb would be rife with all kinds of super-high-speed data connectivity. You’d think there’d be a minimum of 3G with a whole load of HS and HD and other kinds of PAs. HSDPA? HSPA? HSPA+? HSPA-super-plus-plus?



That’s it.

I’m currently using my Novatel MiFi to surf the global data highway at a whopping — and I do mean — WHOPPING — 1.23kb/sec. And that’s to Apple. You know, Apple’s ultra-fast connection? Here in the office, I downloaded iTunes at 10.5mb/sec.

Yet when I switched on my MiFi? Ridiculous.

My mistake, it seems, is to be using Vodafone.

3 was ultra fast when I tried that (via their new MiFi unit).

It’s not just restricted to MiFi of course. It’s any Vodafone connection in this area. My BlackBerries are languishing on rubbish Edge too. So are my iPhones.

And they’re all getting the same rubbish, rubbish 1k per second throughput.

This from the UK’s ‘most reliable network’? Poor show Vodafone. Poor, poor show.

Perhaps it’s not a surprise given that Richmond-Upon-Thames cannot be found in the Vodafone Coverage Checker place database. The postcode worked though. And of course, we’ve got bright red perfect coverage (apparently):


I asked about the office. I was met with resigned faces. Everybody just accepted the fact that coverage from Vodafone was rubbish. This, despite Vodafone being the company’s operator of choice.

I had to demo an iPad working on a data connection. Now the iPad has an integrated Vodafone SIM. Which, of course, is running at Hamster speed.

So how did I fix this?

I’m embarrassed for Vodafone. I walked down to the 3 store, asked for one of their new MiFi units. I handed over 60 quid (that got me the MiFi and 1GB of PAYG data).

Five minutes later I was using the iPad at near-desktop browsing speeds.

No thanks, whatsoever, to Vodafone.

Who is running network QoS for Vodafone in Richmond? There’s got to be a light somewhere on the Vodafone NOC saying ‘We’re screwed in Richmond’, surely?

I don’t expect to pay a premium for Vodafone and — in a built-up sub-urban area like Richmond — have to arse about augmenting their rubbish network. It’s fine if I find myself in the middle of a farm, 100 miles from anywhere without a signal. I don’t mind that. But in Richmond? Ridiculous.

Poor, poor show.

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