As I have ranted about previously, Vodafone claim they have excellent 3G signal in B21 8EQ, and yet there is provably (by experiment) absolutely no 3G signal at all. Vodafone really do need to reconsider what their coverage map is saying, it clearly looks like an assumed expectation, rather than an experimentally determined fact.
I decided therefore on this trip to B21 8EQ to try other network operators. I purchased a T-Mobile dongle from the still open (this is a significant observation a week after the Clapham Junction "looting with serious violence" incident) and busy T-Mobile store. I was also going to get an Orange and a 3 dongle so as to compare. The 3 shop was trashed by the "looting with serious violence" of last week and was closed, whilst the Orange shop was pristine but no customers. The 02 shop was also trashed and closed. I took these observations as a sign and went to Carphone Warehouse for a 3 dongle. There are two Carphone Warehouse shops in Clapham Junction, both had been trashed in the "looting with serious violence" but both were in good state, open and busy.
After an uneventful, but extremely wet, drive to the B21 8EQ destination, I was eager to try things, so I did. Knowing that 3 block port 25, whereas Vodafone and T-Mobile do not, I tried Vodafone first. Why did I bother? Very little 2G signal and definitely no 2.5G, 3G or 3.5G signal. T-Mobile next. Very weak 3G signal but connection made. speedtest.net reported 0.6Mb/0.1Mb. Fairly poor. Then it dropped out to 2G. Very poor. But at least they allow HTTP, IMAPS, SSH, and SMTP. Next up 3. Poor signal but definitely 3G, speedtest.net reported 1.2Mb/0.3Mb. But no port 25 and I need SMTP. Bed time.
Next morning I try things again and put the dongles on the other side of the laptop. 3 gives 3.2Mb/0.6Mb. Healthy. T-Mobile 1.4Mb/0.6Mb. Passable. T-Mobile allows SMTP so wins - hands down.
Summary: Vodafone, get your act together and stop lying to people, and actually get 3G to where you say you have it. O2, care more about your business. 3, care more about you business, and get your act together and open port 25. T-Mobile get your act together and stop over-profiling TCP/IP connections.
PS Oh for a globally accessible WiFi, at a non-extortionate price.
PPS Why is mobile Internet so poor in the UK?