Connect to the Internet using Vodafone 3G/GPRS using an Option Datacard


Configure the dial up connection for use with Vodafone (contract).

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We're currently trying to get the NHS business unit where we work to allow us to go cross platform rather than forcing everyone to blindly use Windows. A lot of our users are mobile and they access the internet and our VPN via Vodafone 3G/GPRS PCMCIA cards made by Option. One of the prerequisites for going cross platform is that this functionality remains. Fortunately, configuration of these cards in Ubuntu is simple.

About the Option 3G/GPRS datacard.
In our case the Option datacard is Vodafone branded. The card will search for a network when initialised and, if it cannot find a 3G (fast) mobile data network, it will fall back to GPRS which is much slower but has more widespread coverage. A green light flashes for GPRS connectivity while a blue light flashes if 3G is available. Both lights flash while the card searches for the network.

Firstly, open a command prompt and use the tail-f /var/log/syslog command to monitor events on the computer. Next insert the Option card. After a few seconds you should be told that the card has been detected and attached to ttyUSB0 (probably).

To configure the card to connect to the 3G/GPRS mobile service, go to System/Administration/Networking. Highlight Modem Connection and click Properties. Set the properties as below...

General tab:
Tick 'Enable this connection'
Enter Phone Number as *99***1#
Enter both username and password as wap

Modem tab:
Modem port: /dev/ttyUSB0 (or whatever port your Option card was attached to)
Dial type: Tones
Volume: Off

Options tab:
Tick the box to Set modem as default route to Internet
Tick the box to Use the Internet service provider nameservers
The last box may be ticked or not depending on user preference

Click OK to exit the properties box and return to the Network Settings window. Now highlight the Modem Connection option and click Activate. Use the ifconfig command to confirm you have obtained an IP address on interface ppp0. Also try and ping an external site to confirm the connection.

For convenience you might want to add the Modem Monitor applet to your panel. This allows quick connection and disconnection to the Internet. Only one bug(?) to point out - the dial number disappears from the General Tab under the connection properties after a successful connection. This appears to just be cosmetic though as subsequent reconnections work fine.

Incidentally, I've also played with the Vodafone Mobile USB Connect Modem under Edgy - see here!

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