If you’re struggling to pick up a decent mobile signal, Vodafone’s Sure Signal promises more reliable coverage within your home. It’s perfect for basement flats and for anyone living in the countryside.

Vodafone Sure SignalDepending on where you live, it can sometimes be a nightmare to pick up reliable signal on your phone. Poor mobile coverage leads to phone calls being dropped, text messages being delayed and battery life being worse. For people living in certain places (e.g. a basement flat, a house with thick walls or a location in the countryside far from the nearest mast), poor signal often makes it difficult to find a reliable service on any of the mobile networks.

For customers on Vodafone, it’s possible to improve your mobile coverage at home using the Sure Signal box. The £100 box creates a 3G signal spanning 30 meters from where it’s plugged in to the wall. It works with all 3G handsets on Vodafone (you’ll need to be either a Pay Monthly or Pay As You Go customer). You also need to have a home broadband connection for the Sure Signal box to connect to Vodafone’s network.

In this article, we review the Vodafone Sure Signal.

About Sure Signal

Femtocell Technology

Vodafone’s Sure Signal is a small femtocell designed to be installed at home. For Vodafone customers living outside of the coverage area, the Sure Signal box gives 3G coverage that’s stronger and more reliable. You can use the stronger signal for calling and texting rather than the weak signal your phone will normally use. With the stronger 3G signal, it should bring an end to phone calls being missed and also text messages being delayed. There can also be a noticeable improvement to your smartphone’s battery life.

Sure Signal works by routing your phone calls and text messages over a home broadband connection:

What Are Femtocells
Vodafone’s Sure Signal uses femtocell technology. The femtocell broadcasts a 3G signal and uses your home broadband to connect to Vodafone’s network. Image source: EMF Explained (AMTA/GSMA/MMF).

The box plugs straight in to a power socket and provides access to up to 8 devices at a time. You can register up to 32 Vodafone numbers to be allowed on the service.

Sure Signal VS Wi-Fi

WifiWith normal wi-fi, you’re able to browse the internet without using a 3G connection. This includes using most apps on your smartphone: for instance sending instant messages, reading e-mails and watching videos online. The limitation of wi-fi is you aren’t normally able to make or receive phone calls: your smartphone still needs 3G for calling and texting. With Sure Signal, you’ll have a reliable 3G connection in addition to wi-fi at home. This means an end to dropped phone calls and text messages being delayed.

N.B. It’s also possible to browse using Sure Signal 3G. However, we strongly recommend using wi-fi instead. If you’re browsing the internet over Sure Signal 3G, data will be deducted from your monthly download allowance. By using wi-fi directly, the data bypasses Vodafone’s network and doesn’t count towards your mobile download limit.

Safety

The Sure Signal box emits low-power radio waves (a 2100MHz 3G mobile signal). The level of radiation is similar to wi-fi and is deemed to be safe. See the EMF Explained website for more information.

Requirements

In order to use Sure Signal, you’ll need all of the following:

  • A sufficiently fast home broadband connection. The minimum required speed is 1Mbit/s. It’s recommended to have a faster connection: ideally 4.2Mbit/s or faster. You can check the speed of your broadband connection at SpeedTest.net.
  • An account at Vodafone. The 3G signal emitted by your box can only be accessed from handsets on Vodafone. You’ll need either a Vodafone Pay Monthly contract, a Vodafone SIM Only deal, a Vodafone Pay As You Go tariff or a Vodafone Business contract. The Sure Signal service isn’t compatible with Vodafone MVNOs (e.g. Lebara Mobile, Mobile By Sainsbury’s and Talkmobile).
  • A 3G smartphone. The Vodafone Sure Signal box only emits a 3G signal. Your handset must have support for 3G connectivity. 2G-only handsets will not work with the service. 4G handsets will always drop to 3G when making or receiving phone calls.

Alternatives

Sure Signal is only available to customers on Vodafone.

Home Signal and TU GoFor customers on Three, it’s possible to use a Home Signal box. This works in much the same way as Vodafone’s Sure Signal (both Home Signal and Sure Signal use femtocell technology). Unfortunately, Three’s Home Signal is only available to eligible customers. There’s no way of buying the Home Signal box: you’ll only be sent it at the discretion of Three. For anyone living in a mobile coverage blackspot, we’d still recommend Vodafone as it’s much easier to get a Sure Signal box.

For customers on O2, it’s possible to use the TU Go application (available on iPhone and Android). TU Go allows you to make and receive calls using a wi-fi connection. Hence, you’re able to call and text even without mobile coverage. There’s also an extra benefit in that you can use it out-and-about e.g. on the London Underground. With Sure Signal, the extra coverage is limited to your house.

Price

The Sure Signal box costs £100 and can be purchased from the Vodafone website. There’s no need to pay any extra monthly subscriptions, through you’ll still have the monthly subscription charges on your Vodafone Pay Monthly contract. You’ll also need to provide a working home broadband connection (minimum speed of 1Mbit/s, recommended speed is 4.2Mbit/s or faster).

More Information

For more information on the Sure Signal service, please see the Vodafone website.

Your Comments 12 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 12 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Hi ken,
    Just came across your page whilst searching on issues to sure signal. I ordered one from Vodafone, due to no signal in my house, but all ok outside. Got it for £25 after threat to leave them, got to say though it took 2 weeks to arrive, told it was out of stock then back in stock, only to find truth was in fact I pre-ordered the new s6 phone and they held back my sure signal to post together. So far so good, but when setting up I only got asked my postcode and level of property, it did not ask for date of birth which I see in previous post.

  • Martin Osborne said:

    Hi Ken, we have managed to get a sure signal because of long running problems with dropped calls because of a fault at our local mast that Vodafone haven’t been able to fix. The problem is that the mast signal is strong enough that the phones choose that rather than the sure signal so the calls still get dropped. How do we force the phones to use the sure signal?

    • Hi Martin,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure whether it’s possible to force your phone to use the Sure Signal. The reason for this is because GSM handsets are configured to choose a mast automatically (it works really well when you’re travelling across the country and your phone will change seamlessly between masts). Just in case, you could try calling Sure Signal Customer Services (let me know if they tell you anything different!)
      Ken

      • Hi Ken
        As a quick update, I have exactly the same problem. We have a very poor Vodafone signal at home. I have had an original Sure Signal almost from day one and it has worked pretty well in my downstairs study, but less well for calls made around the house. Recently it stopped working consistently so I replaced it with the latest (Version 3) model.

        Since this did not appear to significantly improve matters I contacted Vodafone customer support and after a few conversations it was confirmed that:
        1. All mobiles tend to be configured to select a mast signal in preference to a local femtocell. This is why calls made and received downstairs were more likely to go via the Sure Signal than those made upstairs where the mast signal would have been stronger.
        2. My local mast has been upgraded this year with the addition of 4G capability

        This has resulted in the slightly better signal from the mast at home but, annoyingly, the much less use is made of the Sure Signal. There is no way to force any current mobile supported by Vodafone to preferentially select the stronger signal – the mast wins every time…

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