Beleaguered telco Vodafone has vowed to overhaul its heavily criticised network over the next 18 months, but has it already improved enough to make a noticeable difference?
Vodafone's admission to customers that its network wasn't prepared for the onslaught of data traffic produced by new smartphones and mobile broadband modems was swiftly followed by a commitment to improve the network with a major overhaul of infrastructure and 2200 new sites. We've been keeping our ear to the ground collecting stories from everyday Vodafone customers and the news so far has been positive.
Several people we've spoken to have noticed a significant change in the quality of their Vodafone reception in places where they had previously experienced unsatisfactory performance. A colleague of the CNET team even related how his previously "one bar" reception at home (referring to the signal displayed on the handset) was now "four bars" almost all the time.
We picked up another positive review from a Sydney taxi driver who previously complained about four locations where he would consistently experience dropouts during his daily trips from Sydney's International Airport to the Eastern Suburbs. Previously, he would completely lose coverage at these "blackspots" on the route, having to redial the number to continue the call. In the last two weeks this has improved, and he now experiences no dropouts whatsoever.
These are, of course, isolated experiences and confined to Sydney, so to evaluate Vodafone's network expansion in better detail we've turned to a tool created by Australian inventor and entrepreneur Balint Seeber. His exceptional mapping tool, created using publicly available information about the location of mobile phone sites, identifies where you'll find sites belonging to each of the network operators. More importantly, Seeber has included different map overlays for the original Vodafone network and for new sites added this year.
For a look at Vodafone sites in the Australian city closest to you follow the links below. Zoom in for greater detail.
Seeber's map is a fantastic tool with a usefulness beyond merely monitoring Vodafone's network expansion. There is, for example, also a list of all amateur HAM radio operators in Australia, identified by call sign, visible on the map.
We want to hear from you. If you are a Vodafone customer and you've noticed a shift in service, for better or for worse, over the last couple of months let us know in the comments section below.