Vodafone + BT Openzone = Umm?

I am a Vodafone customer.

Three SIMs: one mobile phone, and two iPads. The latter (apparently) come with BT Openzone access as standard (look, it says it on the website).

They’re all registered to the same account and therefore, when I’m in a 2G area or, better yet, out and about with my laptop, and I need to get online – using this ‘service’ would be quite useful.

That is, if it ever actually worked.

First time I tried, I get this –

Several attempts later, I call Vodafone.

Obviously, they’ll be able to sort this out pronto… right?


The first person I spoke to didn’t know how to fix the issue and spends ten minutes looking for another advisor who can. ‘We’ll just reset your password, then it’ll work’ he says, with glee. OK, cool. Perfect, thank you. I hang up, and in seconds a new password arrives by SMS.

Guess what? It doesn’t work.

I call again. This time I’m told to GET ONLINE and register the new password (can anyone else see the issue here?). This is the most useless piece of information you could ever give ANYONE who is trying to get online.

Any sentence that starts with – ‘To get online with this service, please go online and…’ – is ridiculous.

I. Call. Again.

The third person I speak to asks me if I’ve registered my iPad plans for BT Openzone Wifi? No. Of course I haven’t. I was told they come with the service WHEN I BOUGHT THEM.

And look – it even says it on the website:

‘Just turn on WiFi on your phone when you are in range of a BT Openzone hotspot and your iPhone or iPad will connect automatically. Open the browser, or fire up your apps and you are ready to go! Download the My Vodafone app to find where your nearest BT Openzone hotspot is.’

or even

‘Turn on your WiFi, and select the BT Openzone hotspot from the list of available hotspots. Once connected, open your browser and you will be prompted to enter your Vodafone My Account username and password. Once entered, you are online and ready to go!’

I tell the guy, then he says: “Oh hang on: WHERE is the hotspot? While there are a LOT of BT Openzones, Vodafone can only use ‘PREMIUM’ ones. BT don’t allow Vodafone users to use them all…”

What now?

He puts me on hold ‘to check something’, I’m transferred and then —  “Hi, how can I help?”

“Sorry, what?”

“You’ve been transferred, what seems to be the issue?”

“Er, I’m sorry? I’ve wasted an hour trying to fix this issue and you’re telling me the last guy didn’t tell you what the problem was? Forget it.”

And I still don’t know why it didn’t work.


Oh, and for pure comedy gold, here’s the Twitter exchange that happened afterwards –




Yeah, that’s what I thought.

17 replies on “Vodafone + BT Openzone = Umm?”

Yup. I bought a Vodafone PAYG dongle for holiday use in Britain on my MacBook Pro and started using it 10 days ago. The BT Openzone hotspot thing – as advertised – doesn’t work at all – anywhere. I have also been unable to get my PAYG balance for it for a week – via the dongle’s Vodafone application interface or independently via Vodafone’s “My account” using a “normal” internet connection.

So-called support and I have exchanged 8 emails including (yes) their ludicrous “reset your password” nonsense. Screenshots (as requested) sent of four different browsers indicating the same identical failure. Nothing. Utterly useless.

Nobody at Vodafone has a clue what’s going on. The first one complained she had rung me and I hadn’t answered – not on my phone number which I has given them – but ON THE DONGLE’S NUMBER.

I’m going over to Three.

In theory I have Openzone access with my O2 contract too. I say in theory, because, well, you guess…. 😉

I wonder if anyone, ever, has connected to open zone with bundled “free” access…. serious questions, it’s gonna be techy folks here, and we’re all failing…

Same here, my account claims to have 750 mb of bt wifi but the Android Vodafone app says I don’t. Gave up with it.

I wonder how much this is costing the networks to offer a service it seems no-one can use? I have used open zone once, but on a pre-paid open zone card (at open mobile summit, if it hadn’t worked there at least I probably could’ve found someone to moan at 😉 ).

Supposedly I have bundled BT WiFi with Vodafone via the Android app. It doesn’t really work, or when it does, it connects to the BT Openzone-Home SSID, which is not part of the deal, as you figured out. So you end-up being automatically connected to WiFi that doesn’t work even when 3G is available. Genius.

Vodafone knows there’s a problem with this — especially on Android, but it helps sell subscriptions, so I guess they let it carry on. Android is as much to blame, to be fair.

Apple is supposed to be better as it doesn’t rely on an app, at least more recently. Vodafone has started to configure iPhones and iPads to work out-of-the-box using SIM credentials. I know someone who has this working without major problems.

Hi James,

Thanks for the blog- I’m really sorry about your experience with us.

BT Openzone does work, I’ve used it myself in the past. This issue would either be down to the hotspot you were trying to connect to not being a “premium” hotspot (the ones which show up with a purple WiFi logo here: or a problem with your online account.

We’ll happily check everything over for you. Just use the contact form over at and include the code WRT135 in the subject line, and the team will be able to help. If you title it FAO Tom, I’ll keep an eye on it too.

Regarding Twitter, apologies for the confusion. Some things are too complex to tweet about and so we ask customers to use our forum sometimes. I agree that in this instance, we could have done a little more to help initially, so again, I’m sorry.

Anyone else also experiencing issues, please feel free to email in too!


Tom Rushton

So, we have 750MB+ on two vodafone accounts, one of which is up for upgrade/renewal as of today. I’m kind of interested in this but not that much since I don’t seem to get through my mobile internet allowance without it. I presume I am paying a little for the privilege (indirectly) I thought maybe I should investigate getting it to work. I used the online checker and it said..

Your hotspot search resultsSorry, no matching locations were found, please use the search form on the left to refine your search.

Really, I give up. There is a grand total of 1 location within 30 miles of me. This might be useful for people inside the M25 but in East Anglia it’s just not even on the radar.

No better on iPhone either. I can’t even get the My Vodafone app to launch as the WiFi Finder is inside it. I’ve downloaded maybe 5 versions over last 2 years and it’s worked for about 3 months.

Luckily, I’ve got the BTFon app on my phone as well (I have BT Broadband at home), which gives me access to all the OpenZone hotspots & works pretty flawlessly.

Onload beats Offload….

I can see you had this isssue two years ago when you after while find out that vodafone customer can use BT OPENZONE PREMIUM hot spot ONLY! So they still continuing to offer this fishy extras for customers as THEY DO NOT SAY IT STRAIGHT IN THEIR OFFER that no one can use. BECAUSE AS VODAFONE WEBSITE STILL SAYS: Just turn on WiFi on your phone when you are in range of a BT
Openzone hotspot and your iPhone or iPad will connect automatically.
Open the browser, or fire up your apps and you are ready to go! Download
the My Vodafone app to find where your nearest BT Openzone hotspot is.’ WHERE IS THE WORD PREMIUM?? I was not able to find any premium hot spot in my area

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