Review: How good Vodafone's SuperWifi actually is

Review: How good Vodafone's SuperWifi actually is.
Photo credit: Getty (file)

I've been indulging in a bit of feng shui. My house has too many mirrors and metal in the wrong places.

Never mind the energy flow, harmony in this household depends on good Wi-Fi.

My sudden passion for rearranging the furniture follows a meeting with a stranger in my boudoir - entirely for work purposes, I hasten to add.

I've been checking out Vodafone's new SuperWifi deal.

It's guaranteeing wall-to-wall Wi-Fi for its broadband customers on eligible plans by supplying all the necessary hardware for free, along with plenty of support to get up and running. It can even include an in-home visit.

I, of course, wanted the works.

Robin Kelly, Vodafone's products and propositions lead, arrived at my door. Hardly the call-out technician I'd been expecting, but I'm a journalist, it's a new campaign and he promised me he could get his hands dirty and still be quoted.

OK then.


The free hardware supplied consists of two TP-Link DecoX20 mesh Wi-Fi devices to create a mesh system. 

"We believe that will cover about 80 percent of households, though if some customers need more we'll work through that with them," said Robin.

These devices aren't exactly the same as those bought off the shelf as Vodafone has worked with TP-Link to have them pre-configured for its network to make them easier to set-up. These devices can identify whether they're plugged into a modem or the Chorus ONT box.

As I'm on fibre, I chose the latter. 

Robin, to his credit, insisted on getting to his knees and scrubbing about under the cabinets to locate the box and where to plug in the cables. To get going, I downloaded the TP-Link Deco app and set up an account.

A TP-Link DecoX20 mesh Wi-Fi device and the TP-Link Deco app in use.
A TP-Link DecoX20 mesh Wi-Fi device and the TP-Link Deco app in use. Photo credit: supplied

Pairing the main unit was easy. A quick tour of the house followed to decide where to put the other two.

My house is old, quite large and has stairs, so three units were necessary for me. 

"Things like concrete, walls, tiling, mirrors - anything that is in the way of your broadcast is going to affect your signal," said Robin. 

My house is peppered with Wi-Fi dead spots, the worst being in the bedroom - hence my new found passion for mesh systems. One was definitely going in there.

Within minutes, wall-to-wall -Wi-Fi was established in my home, but then we got geeky and checked speeds. They were good but not quite as good as I'd hoped, so given Robin's thoughts on mirrors and things (not much I could do about concrete and walls), I ushered him out and got rearranging.

Removing electrical clutter such as a charging vacuum cleaner and a radio from around the main unit in the kitchen gave a 50 percent increase there and 100 percent increase at the satellite stations in the other rooms.

Optimising the positions of those satellite stations by shifting things like mirrors and metal cabinets gave up to 100 percent improvements in those areas and just having the satellites at all improved speeds by 300 percent in remote spots.

My inner geek was ecstatic. My husband, not so much at all the resulting mess.

Keeping an eye on the family

The TP-Link set-up is great for security and parental controls. The app offers reports that measure usage, internet speeds, connected devices and alerts about any potential malicious attacks blocked by the router's TrendMicro-powered antivirus.

This can all be handled remotely and, should anything out-of-the-ordinary occur, the app will send a notification.

From the app I was able to create profiles for each member of my family, match their devices to the profile, block inappropriate content, see what apps they were using, set time limits and pause the internet completely. I could also choose the devices or activities I wanted to prioritise.

Robin, who has three kids, is also a big fan of the parental controls. 

"YouTube is a bit hit and miss with their content and I made the decision no more YouTube, so I added it onto the list of block websites. No matter what devices are being used, because it's blocked at the Wi-Fi level you've got that kind of certainty."

Wi-Fi 6 capable

Another plus point for the TP-Link system is that it's Wi-Fi 6 is capable. Getting a Wi-Fi 6 system doesn't mean too much for most right now as most of the devices we use aren't Wi-Fi capable (except for things like the latest smartphones), but it does help future-proof your home network. Mesh systems currently offered by other ISPs in Aotearoa aren't currently Wi-Fi 6 capable. 


Strong Wi-Fi coverage in this day and age is so important, so good on Vodafone for making it part of its standard package rather than as a costly optional extra.

The only other ISP currently doing something similar is Orcon, but only a single unit is provided for free.

The DecoX20 devices aren't that pretty to have on display (other routers far out do it such as Google Nest Wi-Fi), but I do like the fact you can turn the LED light off on the units at night.

Who cares too much about looks though? Strong security and parental controls are far more important and the TP-Link devices do well on this front.

Vodafone tells me all the technicians involved in SuperWifi (phone and otherwise) will be based in New Zealand and very soon it will also be offering cloud support, making it the first ISP in the world to be able to remotely troubleshoot and optimise a customer's home SuperWifi network.

If a person still isn't happy after all of that, it will give them $100 credit.

For me it's so far, so good. If you do need help though, don't ask for Robin.