Vodafone’s SureSignal doesn’t know where it is.

Those that follow me on twitter will have seen the pleasure I have had ditching O2 and moving my iPhone to Vodafone. The difference has been monumental and not only is the signal better in Suffolk but my day in London last week proved the same.

Because we live on a farm in a house with thick oak beams, the signal can be patchy indoors so I excitedly purchased a SureSignal box from Vodafone. It plugs into a broadband router and transmits an awesomely strong 3G signal. It worked first time after setting it up online: a process requiring your postcode and mobile phone number.  I complimented @vodafoneuk in this tweet

But I had spoken to soon…When I started playing with my iPhone’s location based services whilst the phone was picking up the SureSignal at home, Googlemaps told me I was in Hammersmith when I was actually in Woodbridge, Suffolk (100 miles apart!). Then I moved onto my Iphone foursquare app and first checked into the Fulham Palace Garden Centre (see left pane of above screenshot), then I unplugged my SureSignal box and rebooted it. Less than a minute later, foursquare and my iphone (corroborated by googlemaps) told me I was in Islington, London and that’s when I checked into the Scolt Head Pub, a minute later. Then feeling spooked (because co-incidentally we actually used to live at the corner of de Beauvoir road), I then unplugged the SureSignal box and was relieved to find that my iPhone located me back at home in Woodbridge allowing me to check into Seckford Hall.

The only possible explanation: I recall the iPhone 2G used information from GSM base stations to define approximate location (through a triangulation process) But i thought this was a workaround until a GPS chip was intalled into the iPhone 3G. Even if this is the case, I would have thought that when the Vodafone SureSignal install procedure asked for the location postcode it may have been to overcome this very problem. I’d be interested in any Android Vodafone users letting us know their experience to work out whether this is a SureSignal problem unique to iPhone.

Is this bug that important? Firstly, isn’t it ironic that Vodafone’s SureSignal (clearly a revolutionary differentiator)  flies in the face of its own recent hook-up with foursquare. Vodafone is aware the issue (According to this forum post), and is working to fix this bug, but, in the meantime,  it will cause a lot of confusion and frustration. The provision of location based services are on the increase. If you read the forum post, Vodafone doesn’t think its a major problem, but the customer points out that the weather forecast his iPhone serves-up is inaccurate by 150 miles. I geotag my tweets and now that my wife is on twitter I’d hate her to think I’m somewhere I’m not!

I’ll bring this post to @vodafoneuk‘s attention in the morning and see what the response is.

Update 1 – Thanks to James Hargrave (see his comment below) after I tweeted for help (don’t you love twitter?!)  he’s not experiencing the same issue with SureSignal on his iPhone or Android. This may be due to the fact that he has listed his home access points on http://www.skyhookwireless.com/ –  (which may be a workaround for me, until Vodafone cures the bug). More testing today and I’ll update this post.

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