For the last couple of years I’ve used BT’s Openzone system to give me Internet connectivity when I’m away from home. This uses WiFi hotspots, but by one of those unfortunate twists of fate, most places I went had iffy WiFi hotspots, but excellent Mobile Phone coverage.
So, I decided to use the Web and Walk system offered by T-Mobile. Part of the thinking here was to make it easier for me to demonstrate systems ‘in the field’ and also allow me to stay in touch with my projects more when I’m away from home.
The hardware element of the package is shown below.
The modem itself is top left – it’s easily pocket sized and very light. Two cables are supplied – the short one works with most PCs and Laptops, but if you have a USB port that’s limited in terms of power available, you can use the onger cable that allows you to draw power from two separate USB ports on your PC. I found the short cable perfectly adequate.
You’ll also need a SIM card – I decided to take a new number with T-Mobile. The SIM card slots in to the modem – good fingernails (or something sharp and pointy) may be needed here!
Here begins the fun part…
In a cunning feat of design, the modem contains all teh software and drivers needed to get it running within itself – no need for CDROMS. The idea is that you just plug it in to a spare USB port and it goes off and installs itself.
So, I plugged it in, lights flashed as per the manual….and nothing installed. Nada. Nowt. Nuffink.
The drivers are stored in a memory chip in the modem, a bit like a USB memory stick. However, for some weird reason, the manufacturers of the modem decided to make the memory look like a CDROM drive to the PC – and some pieces of software – particularly CD / DVD writers – don’t like this. The result is that XP has problems mounting the drive from the modem, and so can’t install the software from it.
I googled around, and found that this is a common problem. The first thing that was suggested was to open an ‘Explorer’ window and watch to see whether a drive appears when you plug the modem in, then copy the contents on to your local drive and run the ‘Autorun’ file from there. On my machine it appeared for about 5 seconds – long enough to copy the contents on to my local hard disc. With great anticipation I ran the file, watched whilst it installed everything, ran the application and….
Was told that the modem didn’t exist.
I took a look behind the scenes and found that, indeed, no modem software had been installed (look for a reference to HUAWEI Mobile Connect – 3G Modem in the Modems and Phone Options).
At this point I also checked the USB settings in ‘Hardware Device Manager’ in the Control Panel, and found the entry corresponding to the Modem was registered as invalid.
I deleted this entry, un-installed the Web-n-Walk unplugged the Modem, then rebooted the PC. When the PC came back, I plugged in the modem again and…..waited. Again, nothing happened.
Checking Explorer again I found the ‘CDROM Drive’ within the Modem was now visible, and was NOT disappearing! I opened it up, and ran the Autorun program and lo and behold, success!
If you use this kit, basically, be prepared for some tedium in installing it!
Now it’s up and running, it’s great. I get the advertised speed, and as I don’t use VOIP or IM, the rather silly T&Cs that forbid the use of such programs doesn’t bother me. If you do need to use MSN Messenger, Skype, etc. then you may need a different solution.
I’ll keep you posted.