Euro Cup: iPhone 5, Virgin Media 0

Posted on by Mike Evans

UPDATE: 13.20 on June 25: This time Virgin sent an experienced technician instead of an apprentice. He soon found the break in the cable and had it connected. This could have been done on Friday. All is not perfect because rats are in the conduit, so a new cable will be fitted soon. Back on line after five days.

I am now in the fifth day with no broadband[1], thanks to the inefficiency and inaction of Virgin Media. I have been a loyal customer of Virgin and its forebears for twenty years. Service has generally been good and I have praised the company on several occasions here in MacFilos. But all that goodwill has now disappeared in a puff of smoke. A plague on Virgin and all its houses.

An emergency like this can have some benefits. For one, it has shown me just how useful the iPhone’s Hotspot tethering service can be. It has been a lifesaver over a very stressful period.

Since I got the new MacBook Air on Thursday, I have been without internet. All the synchronisation, software updates and setup has had to be done at a local pub, using their free wifi. But the rest of the time my phone has been USB-connected[2] to the MacBook Air and providing email, browsing and other essential stuff over the Vodafone network. It’s slow, of course, but remarkably reliable and hassle-free.

So far, I’ve used 700MB of data, much more than I would consume normally in a few days. I’m surprised it is as little as this, but it does show how useful the phone can be in an emergency. I do have a total of 2.5GB of monthly data available to the phone (comprising 1GB standard and 1.5GB tethering) so I am well within my limits. If you haven’t done it already, I would certainly recommend getting tethering authorised on your phone.

An interesting discovery has been that my iPad, using the identical Vodafone service, has much worse 3G reception than my iPhone. The Vodafone signal in my office is weak but the phone has coped remarkably well. The iPad, on the other hand, has shown patchy reception. I’ve heard before that the iPad’s wireless is not as sensitive as that on the iPhone and I can now believe it.

I am now stuck here waiting for yet another Virgin engineer. iPhone 5, Virgin 0.

  1. For the record there has been a history of weak tv signals in my street. I had a service call over a month ago because the tv signal was breaking up. I was told the cable box at the end of the street was “in a mess” and that the incoming signal was weak. But he got the tv working, for the time being. Problems persisted, especially in evenings when more people were using the service, although throughout the broadband remained excellent. Then, last Thursday, both broadband and television disappeared completely. Other neighbours were also out, but have since been reinstated. I am at the end of the line in more ways than one. Frankly, Virgin’s service has been abysmal.  ↩

  2. When dealing with one connection to a computer I would recommend a USB cable connection rather than wifi. It is faster (in my experience) and more reliable. Furthermore, it is totally secure. However, if you want to connect more devices, choose the wifi option and you turn your iPhone into a wireless hub similar in function to the Novatel MiFi which was popular last year.  ↩

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