Russel Winder's Website

On Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Vodafone, Bluetooth, Internet, and Failure

Vodafone did me a part-way reasonable deal on a new contract involving me taking possession of a Galaxy Nexus to replace the N900 I have had for two years. Of course when I got home and found it was a 16GB machine instead of a 32GB machine I was not entirely happy; the Galaxy Nexus has no memory expansion capability. Still it is Android, Maemo being well dead, ditto MeeGo, and version 4 at that. (No I am not going to use inane terms like Ice Cream Sandwich, or even ICS.)

I have been reasonably pleased with the phone over all, and the Android Market, sorry Google Play, downloading has worked - even to the extent of updating all the out of date operating systems and applications. I am even looking forward to paying for some apps, not to get rid of adverts but to get some of the extra functionality. I have actually been quite surprised at how immune I have been to the advertising on free apps. If advertising can fund some apps, whilst having no effect on me, then long live free apps.

But there is a downside. Actually there are two:

  • Vodafone 3G coverage is still very poor and almost, but not quite, totally unrelated to the coverage map that they publish. For a world rapidly going 4G, the UK is woefully under-resource with 3G and 3.5G. How can the UK compete in the information era with such appalling mobile network systems? Thankfully the 3 UK coverage is not bad. Pricing for data is still a complete rip-off: the whole 3Gb for 1 month business model should surely come under scrutiny. Either it should be unlimited for a month or 3Gb for an unlimited period. I dread to think how little I'll be able to do on 500Mb per month on the Vodafone contract if I can ever get 3G on Vodafone.
  • Bluetooth tethering does not work. USB tethering works fine. Wifi tethering works fine. Bluetooth tethering says it has succeeded to the PC, but reports failing on the phone.

So I went to my local Vodafone store where I got the new contract a few weeks back. The very nice chap there listened to my question and with good grace said he didn't know the answer. This I though was good customer service because of the way he dealt with it. He suggested I should contact Technical Support via telephone and set me up using their in shop free phone. Sadly this was the beginning of the problems.

Vodafone answers, and requires you to enter your phone number or account number and PIN number before you can get anywhere. OK, annoying but... You then have to go through four, yes four, layers of listening to a sequence of options before you get to talk to a human being. Well I say human being, but I am not entirely sure it wasn't a trained monkey.

First question: "Please can I have your phone number." For ##### sake Vodafone get your systems working. I already typed in the number to get through, you should present this useful information to the call centre monkeys so that they can give at least a simulacrum of good customer service. So having ranted at the monkey about this, I gave the seemingly duplicate information that he clearly was not being given (not actually his fault though). I then explained the situation and his response was "It's a Samsung problem." I tried to explain that I didn't think it was, but he insisted it was. Basically he was reading the one-line answer printed on the sheet in front of him: "This is not a Vodafone problem, please contact phone vendor." I gave up, asked him to text me the number, which to be fair he did within about 30s. Good monkey. Bad Vodafone.

So, Samsung, or anyone, why is this your fault and not Vodafone's. I switch on Bluetooth on phone and laptop. I switch on Bluetooth tethering on the phone. I select the "connect via Bluetooth" networking option on the laptop. The phone reports tethering is activated, flashes up a message too fast to read and then reports "not tethered" - I have absolutely no idea how to find out what the flashed message was, but perhaps it is crucially important? So the phone believes Bluetooth tethering is active but not happening. Meanwhile on the laptop it is entirely happy that a suitable connection is in place. Even DNS lookup appears to be working. But no packets escape the NAT network. This would indicate that Vodafone is black holing the connection, or am I missing something?

|> ifconfig bnep0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 70:f3:95:4e:b3:da inet addr: Bcast: Mask: inet6 addr: fe80::72f3:95ff:fe4e:b3da/64 Scope:Link UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST MTU:1500 Metric:1 RX packets:24 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0 TX packets:38 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0 collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000 RX bytes:2859 (2.7 KiB) TX bytes:2702 (2.6 KiB)

eth0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr f0:de:f1:2f:cb:b3 UP BROADCAST MULTICAST MTU:1500 Metric:1 RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0 TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0 collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000 RX bytes:0 (0.0 B) TX bytes:0 (0.0 B) Interrupt:20 Memory:f2500000-f2520000

lo Link encap:Local Loopback inet addr: Mask: inet6 addr: ::1/128 Scope:Host UP LOOPBACK RUNNING MTU:16436 Metric:1 RX packets:126757 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0 TX packets:126757 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0 collisions:0 txqueuelen:0 RX bytes:11639041 (11.0 MiB) TX bytes:11639041 (11.0 MiB)

|> route Kernel IP routing table Destination Gateway Genmask Flags Metric Ref Use Iface default UG 0 0 0 bnep0 link-local * U 1000 0 0 bnep0 * U 0 0 0 bnep0

|> dig

; <<>> DiG 9.8.1-P1 <<>> ;; global options: +cmd ;; Got answer: ;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 58035 ;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0



;; Query time: 29 msec ;; SERVER: ;; WHEN: Wed Mar 28 18:06:45 2012 ;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 53

|> traceroute traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 60 byte packets 1 ( 6.028 ms 8.318 ms 11.069 ms 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6 * 7 * 8 * 9 * 10 * 11 * 12 * 13 * 14 * 15 * 16 * 17 * 18 * 19 * 20 * 21 * 22 * 23 * 24 * 25 * 26 * 27 * 28 * 29 * 30 * * *

So Samsung, Vodafone claim this is your problem, that the Galaxy Nexus phone is borked with respect to this functionality. What the #### is wrong. Of course my suspicion is that Vodafone is detecting Bluetooth tethering instead of USB or WiFi tethering and blocking all packets, they are just not going to admit that this is the case.

Actually what I want Samsung to do is to tell me how Vodafone are doing this so that I can undo it. I want Bluetooth tethering. I used to have Bluetooth tethering on the N900. It is a good thing. I want it to work again.

_ Footnote: I am under no illusions, no-one other than me is ever going to read this mini-essay/rant, but it has been cathartic writing it, so I will publish it anyway. _

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