Vodafone Gripes and a Glimmer

To any readers considering Vodafone broadband – here’s the story of my first 3 months with Vodafone UK.

It begins with the promise of a free gift to join Vodafone but read on, there is more and some good news…

When we moved home last year, I was very excited to find that the village of Wark on Tyne was finally moving into the 21st century with high speed fibre broadband (no thanks to BT who get endless funding for this kind of thing), so excited that I put to one side my long-held gut feeling that Vodafone are nothing but a bunch of cowboys. After all, things change, don’t they?

GoPro Hero

When my “free gift” for joining, a GoPro camera, failed to turn up, I put it down to bad luck and rang Vodafone for help. That’s when I first realised I might’ve been right in the first place. It is now 3 months since I placed the order for the camera on their third party website, by the look of it, another bunch of cowboys. 

The excuses started, I would say immediately, but it took umpteen attempted calls and hours sitting on the phone just to get the excuses. The Vodafone guys have been told to deny responsibility – that this is provided by a third party. I’ve used every channel I know of to ensure others know that is WRONG. My contract is with Vodafone, not a third party. No way out of it boys unless the public are stupid enough to believe you. I’m still waiting for that camera.

Today with the GoPro due to turn up before 25th Jan, Daniel at Vodafone Broadband Tech – apologised again (after at first saying  he could find nothing for me)  for the delay and gave me AOTHER date – the end of next week – which takes us into February 2019 – I wonder if people are born able to lie like that or if it is an acquired skill.

But now it gets serious. The Vodafone router supports a guest network and corresponding guest WiFi network – essential for those who do holiday rentals. Except that the WIFI on the Vodafone unit cannot cover the entire house and on request, Vodafone confirmed the conclusion I’d (mistakenly) come to – that the guest network cannot be extended.

You would think that given that the guest network is on a different subnet to the main network, this would be easy.. but to add another access point kind of implies you can get to the second subnet. They did not make this available on the hardwired router ports, one wonders why. Anyone with a Draytek model will immediately point out that you simply bring out the second subnet to one of the hardwired outputs. Well, that option is not available on the Vodafone router… to which my immediate thoughts were…well there must be a way. Vodafone last night confirmed that the second subnet cannot be extended. And then I started digging. I’d already gotten everything working but I THOUGHT that the primary network was leaking through, defeating the object of a “guest” network.

After much failed experimenting I’d come up with a  great idea – simply make the main WIFI the guest Wifi and turn the other one off. Make the Vodafone router primarily use the second subnet and use only one hardwired output for internal use, feeding that to a secondary router which then supplies the private network inc. WIFI. While the secondary network gets full access to both nets and the Internet, the (now) first subnet has access to the Internet but no access to the second. That worked a TREAT.

Until I noted a yellow comment in the router about external services not working… my VPN into the house no longer worked as my secondary network could not be seen from outside. That was the end of THAT otherwise brilliant idea. Back to square one.

I tried everything – there are myriad half-finished Raspberry Pi projects out there and I tried several until coming to the conclusion that purchasing one or two expensive Ubiquity routers was the only practical answer.

Until late last night, when, armed with a simple Netgear WIFI extender from my friend Aidan and despite having tried this before and had confirmation from Vodafone that this would not work, I set up the Netgear extender. This time having hooked my phone into the newly-created extension of the original guest network, I cleared the history from my phone and, unbelievably, the guest network extension WORKED on the Internet (via the extension) while leaving the primary network untouched (and hence protected from guest snooping). Armed with that I went out on a limb and plugged my laptop (hardwired) into the wireless extender – sure enough, it, too gained access to the guest network and the outside world but again not the main network – perfect. So, within the limits of WIFI speeds, you CAN have a fully fledged guest network on Vodafone fibre – just don’t ask them as they apparently think you can’t.

Now, instead of using an extender half way down the building where the signal is already weak, I can put the little Netgear right next to the main router and run a wire across the house (or over the mains) to a proper WIFI access point and gain a full strength signal right across the building.

For all of this the Vodafone home broadband is otherwise fast and reliable. I’m happy.


6 thoughts on “Vodafone Gripes and a Glimmer

  1. Ubiquiti hardware is actually pretty cheap for the quality and features, but it’d likely be a big headache of its own. They are definitely not at all plug-and-play (at least not the main lines, the AmpliFi stuff is much more friendly).

  2. Many years ago I bought an early broadband dongle from Vodafone. My reason for buying from Vodafone was that my use of the broadband dongle was very intermittent (“once in a blue moon”) and they were the only provider that allowed unused data to continue “for ever” (I think so long as you connected once every few months).

    This worked well for several years. Then, one day when attempting to use it out in the sticks (I was running a computer results service for a motor sport event and I needed a connection to the outside world), I found it wouldn’t let me connect. I switched to a different dongle from a different provider that I fortunately had with me.

    When I got home after the event and started searching for information, I discovered that Vodafone had (unilaterally) changed the terms and conditions a few months previously to make that “for ever” data now expire.

    Looking at their customer support forum, it appears that they had notified affected users by SMS message, which wasn’t much use for those users (like me) who only used the device once in a blue moon – the lifetime of the SMS message was only a few days.

    The responses of their customer service representatives in the forum stank.

    Vodafone are right at the bottom of my list of preferred suppliers for anything.

  3. Vodafone lied to me.

    I use BT Openworld modem with a ASUS router with wifi and I asked them if I could continue to use this with their service if I switched. They agreed and said that they will provide the login credentials to do this. However, when the router arrived they refused, saying it was a change of policy (even though they listened to the recordings).

    Now that I was out of contract with BT, BT would not give me the pricing that I was on before the switch.

    However, I discovered that TalkTalk used the BT Openworld infrastructure, were cheaper and would allow me to use my equipment. I now have a pfsense machine as the router and relegated the asus to providing wifi (including guest wifi).

    I recommend that people avoid Vodafone.

  4. Most guest network solutions also provide some shield between the nodes connected to the guest network.
    Meaning guestA cannot communicate directly with guestB. (that’s also something you may not want when using ESP devices on a guest network)

    That functionality is probably lost when you use the wireless bridge solution you now use.
    And to the Vodafone router this NetGear is just a single WiFi client, so it is not so strange it will work.
    So I wonder, are the devices connected to the NetGear on the same subnet as the ones directly connected to the Vodafone router?
    If not, then the NetGear is also working like a NAT router.
    If they are using the same subnet, then the Vodafone router is serving several DHCP requests to the same WiFi client and that may be something they might block in some future firmware upgrade since it is also a great way for neighbors to share an account and that’s probably incompatible with their businessplan 🙂

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