Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Vodafone SureSignal

The Vodafone SureSignal box (pictured) contains a tiny 3G transceiver (a WCDMA femtocell) and an Ethernet port which connects to a broadband router. By registering your 3G phone number and USB 3G dongle with Vodafone, these devices can then connect to the SureSignal box and their traffic will be tunneled across the broadband network back to Vodafone.

So I now have a mobile base station in my very own home and consequently an excellent mobile phone signal, plus my mobile data service works too - which helps when BT is messing up access to the WordPress image-upload windows at sciencefiction.com.

I had very little hope of this working. When the box arrived on Saturday the Vodafone site was down and stayed down until this morning. Once I had logged in, it proved impossible to navigate through the useless Vodafone layout to register the device: I was fored to make the 191 call-centre call. The guy there, three months into the job, fixed everything and after less than an hour of self-configuration everything now works!

I'm so not used to that.

Note: femtocell technology like SureSignal must be such a boon to the police. The mobile phone company can pin down my location to a resolution similar to that of GPS (they know where the SureSignal box is located, and they know I'm logged on to its short range signal).
All over the world physicists are glued to their computers, waiting for the CERN webcast (1 pm UK time) which will brief us on the updated Higgs story. I'll be checking the live blog here.

Update: the signals are consistent with a 125-126 GeV Higgs, but also with a statistical fluctuation in the decay products from other interactions. So we need to wait for more data in 2012.