Verson 2. June 4, 2007. Changes:
- Modified redial time to 15 seconds
- Modified explanation of teething problems to reflect current situation
- Added acknowledgements (forgot about them in v1)
by Mikhail Ramendik , mr at ramendik.ru
Three Ireland has recently unveiled a new HSDPA mobile broadband product. It
includes 10 gigabytes data transfer (note: received plus transmitted, not
just received!) for €20 per month. The modem is a Huawei E220, a nice little
white USB box that, infortunately, has no external antenna attachment.
The quality is, in my experience, not as good as "conventional" broadband -
for example, a SIP VoIP service produced a latency of several seconds and
some disruptions. But it may be the fact that coverage is not perfect here...
Anyway, for some areas it can be the only real broadband option apart from
satellite - like where I live. And it's way better than dialup, and way
cheaper and probably better than satellite! Not to mention it being mobile.
The product will work within Three's 3G coverage only; Three has a map but
it's not really detailed enough. So the best option is probably to rely on
their 14 day return policy. Grab it and try it.
Preferrably, try it with the native Windows driver first - it shows the signal
strength, and under Linux this is not yet possible. Although you can possibly
see whether you're in coverage even on the modem itself - when trying to
connect (and sometimes even before that), it will flash blue if you are in 3G
coverage, but green if you are not. (But I don't know what it will do if it
is in Vodafone's 3G coverage but not in Three's!) . By the way, if you are in
coverage, and do see signal strength, but keep getting "Connection failed"
messages, see the note at the bottom.
OK, let's say it works in your area, and you want to use it under Linux. The
instructions here are for Debian; I think they will apply unchanged to Debian
derivatives including Ubuntu; in other distros file locaton and security may
vary. I am only using pppd, which should be present on all systems; wvdial is
First, we will need to set up DNS addresses. Unfortunately, the DNS servers
provided in the PPP protocol don't work right; I don't know how Three
provides correct DNS later but Linux does not catch it - so we'll just make
DNS static. For this, as root, edit /etc/resolv.conf; it should contain one
or more "nameserver" entries with DNS addresses. You may have a favourite DNS
of your own; or to use Three's ones, put the following in /etc/resolv.conf :
Next we create the configuration files for pppd.
connect "/usr/sbin/chat -v -f /etc/chatscripts/pap -T *99#"
# Serial device to which the modem is connected.
# Speed of the serial line.
# Assumes that your IP address is allocated dynamically by the ISP.
# Try to get the name server addresses from the ISP.
# Use this connection as the default route.
# Makes pppd "dial again" when the connection is lost.
# Do not ask the remote to authenticate.
# pppd will detach from controlling terminal when connection is up
# no compression - ppp is used only until the modem
# put in a default gateway even if one was present before
# if connection has failed, redial in this number of seconds
# don't use too low - 3 seems to drive modem crazy
ABORT "NO CARRIER"
ABORT "NO DIALTONE"
ABORT "NO DIAL TONE"
Now our pppd is ready.
To connect, we will need to attach the modem, and execute, as root:
modprobe usbserial vendor=0x12d1 product=0x1003
Note that we will need to do it on every new boot as well - after the modem is
attached. (Of course we can keep it attached permanently - but still execute
this command every boot). Also, the modem possibly does not work if unplugged
and then replugged within the same session (i.e. no reboot between). There
may be a way to fix this all but I have not yet discovered it; advice would
be most welcome!
After this, connecting is easy. Either as root, or as a user that is in
the "dip", execute this command:
And watch the terminal. Once it reports your IP address, you are online! If it
reports "Timeout" something instead, either you are out of coverage (check
using the Windows driver) or you have hit APN problems - see note at the
To get offline, either just shut down your system or type:
NOTE AT THE BOTTOM: Three APN issues
For some time in late May - early June 2007, Three apparently had APN (Access
Point Name) issues. At peak usage times, you try connecting with good
coverage and it just fails, In Windows, you see "Connection failed"; in
Linux, it's "Timeout" something.
The issued peaked in a complete lack of service for about 20 hours on June
2-3. Then apparently repair was carried out and the issues have disappeared.
I keep the description in case they return.
The way around this is just to try and try again.Sooner or layer you get in.
But don't try *very* often; when I tried every 3 seconds the modem stopped
blikning its blue "coverage available" light.
In Windows, all you can do is click that button over and over again. In Linux,
pppd just redials automatically; but it's highly advisable to always run pppd
("pon") in a terminal window, so you can see what's going on in teh
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. Thanks go to:
Paul Kelly (Ireland), in whose blog I found the version of Vodafone
instructions which I could use
Victor Wagner (Russia), who, at my request, has translated the wvdial
configuration into pppd language
Yours, Mikhail Ramendik
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