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Power Fail Kills Vodafone UK’s Indoor Mobile Boosting Sure Signal v3 Kit

Monday, April 24th, 2017 (10:59 am) - Score 14,031

Owners of Vodafone’s older £69 Sure Signal v3 devices, which use femtocell technology to boost indoor 3G mobile signals around your home, may be able to request a replacement after some customers reported that their kit “exploded” and “stopped with a loud band and smell of electrical burning.”

The Sure Signal v3 kit itself works by harnessing your fixed line broadband connection (a minimum upload and download speed of 1Mbps is required) in order to boost indoor mobile signals, which makes it handy in areas where gaining good mobile reception can be difficult.

However reports about the kit exploding or popping their way to the land of failure, usually accompanied by a whiff of smoke and tripped power circuits, have been present on Vodafone’s community forums since as far back as 2014 (examples here and here) and they continue to occur today.

The device doesn’t appear to have its own internal fuse, which means that it blows the one in your house instead and apparently that’s all fine with Vodafone. CEO Jeroen Hoencamp said the “products failed in a safe manner with no risk to customers.

Vodafone Customer sc597 said (April 2017):

“My V3 from mid 2015 blew up last night. Nothing plugged into the passthrough power, it had error lights on the front, I unplugged, plugged back in and BANG! Visible electrical arcing in the device and smoke coming out of it. It now rattles internally. It was plugged into a UPS device so clean power. In going it blew house RCD breakers and a 13A fuse in the UPS. Vodafone are replacing FoC and I have reported to Trading Standards.”

So far as we can tell most of the related issues appear to impact SSv3’s that were manufacturer by Alcatel in 2015 or earlier, which means that owners of more recent editions probably don’t need to worry. The Register is today carrying the following statement from Vodafone.

A Vodafone Spokesperson said:

“We are aware that a small number of customers with a previous version of our V3 domestic Sure Signal unit have seen their device fail due to the surge protection fuse becoming over-sensitive and tripping early. All other models of the domestic Sure Signal are unaffected. We ask any customers whose device has been affected by this issue to switch it off and contact us to arrange a full refund or replacement.

We’re sorry to any customers experiencing problems but want to assure customers that they are not at risk. A design update was incorporated into later versions of V3 Sure Signal units to prevent this happening in future.”

In fairness no electrical devices are perfect and all can fail, although many manage to do so graciously and without the loud popping sounds but that can happen too. As usual Vodafone offers no solid indication for how many units might have been impacted and they clearly don’t feel as if the issue is significant enough to warrant a full recall of the older kit.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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5 Responses
  1. Ian says:

    Anything with a surge protection circuit will die eventually. A quick google of “how long does a surge protector last” will show that. Ironically several articles also say to replace or expect to replace every 2-5 years, 2 years being how long these devices have lasted from 2015 and earlier.

    As for devices “exploding” i guess that sounds better when complaining rather than just no longer works or had a brief 2 second stinky burnt smell before it no longer worked.

    1. Ian Fielding says:

      Hi Ian, Yes my Sure signal just exploded after re-booting the device. The bang and electrical charge caused a minor burns to my hand and caused me to jump backwards and landed on the corner of a bedroom unit.

      I’m pretty appualed with Vodafones response which was just send out a replacement. No investigation as to why this happend. as for the CEO statement “products failed in a safe manner with no risk to customers.” is rubbish as i have just had an accident as a result.

  2. Mark says:

    I have experienced on of these ‘go’ and it’s more than a 2 second burn smell – it’s a VERY loud bang and blue flash with the house electrics tripping as a result. I have had two of these both failed the same way. Vodafone have continued to ignore the issue despite complaints. Good to see they have finally acknoeldged it.

    They should publish serial numbers of those units so affected, and offer free replacemnts fot any that are affected. Clearly this is a design flaw present at the time of purchase.

    1. Robert says:

      Nothing with surge protection should behave like that unless your power supply is at fault.

  3. Bonehead says:

    Oh noes my electrical device failed, must contact trading standards. It’s the end of the world as we know it! Electricity and magic smoke must be banned and government must do more!

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