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Annoying Mobile Companies and 3G Data

November 11, 2007

I have been using 3G data for some time starting with the Vodafone service. This used a nice Vodafone branded Option GT 3G PC Card, but unfortunately the data service provided limits that were too limiting for me and the price I paid. This limit was 250MB per month for around £45 per month. Once other suppliers undercut that and also exceeded the data you could have, I moved. This was over to T-Mobile. What also pushed me that way was that 7 months after getting the Vodafone PC Card, I got a new Laptop that did not have a PC Card interface, only the PC Card Express business. I made do with a 3G router from Linksys that allowed me to carry on using it but all the bulk became annoying after a while. So better service became available, with better data limits  (3GB),  and also using a USB 3G Dongle with the added benefit that it was much faster (1.4Mbps) than the nasty old Vodafone 300kbps.

Every worked fine apart from annoying Vodafone billing practices of sending non-sensical bills for two months after you had ceased service (I am well shot of them). The only permanent fly in the ointment was that the nice customer service representative told me that the card was network locked and therefore would only work on Vodafone. I was annoyed but thought oh well, I had my use.

I did some digging however and pulled together various pieces of information to confirm that in actual fact my GT 3G mobile data card originally manufactured by Option could actually work with my T-Mobile Sim, so if I wanted to use my lovely Linksys 3G router, I could. I have now sorted the card usage on my old laptop. It just required:

1. Removal of the old Vodafone software including deleting the drivers from Device Manager. This bit is very important otherwise you will probably receive a network connection error of 619.

2. Installation of a sort of generic driver and application for handling the connections. (although this is not going to be required for the Linksys I believe. This was a bit of a pain because Option obviously has followed the mobile operators lead and disallowed you to directly have software to make something work. I had to find the software via a bulletin board which drove me to T-Mobile’s web site to download a suitable almost generic version of the handling software.

3. Configuration of the correct APN and the preferred use of the software.

And off I go… Next we have to try it in the Linksys Router.

In conclusion though:

  1. Vodafone and many other companies are stupid pillocks for selling proprietarily configured devices but with no real info about how to use it after you leave their service.
  2. Never believe what an operator tells you – find out for yourself.
  3. Some Vodafone devices are network locked unlike this early Option device, but the client software is locked. Deeply annoying.
  4. It pays to persist.
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