Living in a mobile deadzone isn't the worst fate that can befall someone, but it's fairly inconvenient. For a start, there's the cost of not being able to use free minutes when you're at home. Then there's missing out on potentially exciting SMS news involving pubs or offers to go see a band too.
Vodafone thinks it has the answer. It's taken a device more commonly used for extending the reach of mobile signals inside office buildings, called a femtocell, and packaged it up for domestic consumption as the Sure Signal.
Er, what’s a femtocell?
A femtocell is essentially a small mobile base station that picks up the signal of mobile phones operating nearby. So instead of receiving calls via the main Vodafone network, yours will be picked up by the Sure Signal, converted into IP traffic and transmitted via the internet. Which means that wherever you have broadband, Sure Signal can get you four bars of connectivity.
It only works with Vodafone mobiles, of course, and even though calls are routed over your broadband connection, they're still charged as part of your monthly tariff.
Review continues after the break…
Setting up and pairing a phone to a Sure Signal is a lengthy but ridiculously easy process. You just plug it into your broadband router, fill in an online form and a couple of hours later it just works.
Because the Sure Signal is a 3G enabled, you can use it to surf the net from your phone too – although since you'll already be standing in range of your Wi-Fi router, it's not really a key selling point.
What is important is that call quality is indistinguishable from the real thing. There's no perceivable delay as a result of re-routing the call and as far as we could tell, the Sure Signal was unaffected by other network traffic such as downloading movies.
Whether or not it's worth the price really depends on how addicted to your mobile you are. It could pay for itself within a year, or, given that you have to have broadband and a phone line to make Sure Signal work, there may be a slightly cheaper way of getting the same overall effect. But it probably won’t be as easy as this.