Vodafone Australia Mobile Broadband – On Linux

I have just acquired a Huawei K3250 USB wireless modem with a Vodafone prepaid SIM.  There seem to be a lot of "recipes" floating around on how to get similar devices working on Linux, but several which supposedly work with the service from Vodafone Australia, in a word, don't.

My laptop is running Debian Lenny with a 2.6.26 kernel – recent kernel versions supporting the Huawei devices by default.

As I'm a bit old-fashioned and always used wvdial back in my dial-up days, this is what I have used this time around too.

This is the wvdial.conf that works for me:

[Dialer Defaults]
New PPPD = yes
Stupid Mode = 1
Init1 = AT
Init2 = ATZ
Init3 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0
Init4 = AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","vfinternet.au"
Modem Type = Analog Modem
ISDN = 0
Phone = *99***2#
Modem = /dev/ttyUSB0
username = vodafone
Password = vodafone
Dial Command = ATDT
Baud =460800

Issues that may be encountered include:

  • The user in question not being in the dialout group
  • /usr/sbin/pppd having the incorrect permissions (should be -rwsr-xr–)
  • Using one of the many example wvdial.conf's that gives a phone number of *99#. This was the last problem I encountered – I would get a connection and then the modem would get fed up and stop pppd. Only when I changed to *99***2# did things start working as they should.

My only complaint is that it ain't half slow after 1.5Mbps ADSL – but I've only got it to keep me working during ADSL outages and for the very rare occasions when I am not at home.

Why did I choose Vodafone? Well, my first choice would have been my excellent ISP, Internode, but their service is through a carrier that doesn't have coverage in this area. The only other carrier with service around here is Telstra/Bigpond – who demand an arm, both legs, and your first-born for the privilege of connecting to their network. They will also add insult to injury with what I would laughingly call their customer service.

And when it comes to service, Vodafone Australia may give itself a good pat on the back both for their sales staff who got my order through despite having a rural South Australian address (impossible online,) and for the chap who helped me out this morning getting the thing connected.