Saturday, August 10, 2013

Configuring Mobile Broadband in Ubuntu

Mobile internet dongles are used in places where stable, wired internet connection is not present due to a range of reasons or it isn't required on a daily basis. Examples are weekend houses, vacations, field trips and many more.

Internet dongles are usually USB devices with a SIM card in them that use the mobile network to connect to the internet. Based on the type of the modem and the available telecommunication network (speed, signal strength etc.), the speed of the internet access can vary on a very broad range from a few kb/s up to tens of Mb/s. These USB dongles are usually pre-loaded with software that prompts for installation when plugged in to a Windows machine. But what happens in Ubuntu? It's much simpler. Most of the settings required for setting up a mobile broadband are built into the operating system, hence there is no need to download or install any new software.

The below guide will be based on my experiences in Hungary (EU) with T-mobile. However, Ubuntu is very versatile and contains appropriate settings for almost all countries, hence setting up your own mobile broadband will be very similar.

  1. Put the SIM card into the USB modem and plug it into your computer. If the SIM is PIN code protected, you will be prompted to unlock the SIM card by typing in the PIN.

  2. Go to Networking/Edit Connections/Mobile Broadband and click "Add"

  3. This will prompt you to input a range of information, specific to your provider, country and more. Completing the steps is simple and requires no deep knowledge about computing or telecommunications. The below screenshots are from my setup process.
    (Note: Mobile Broadband device is automatically recognized)

  4. Finally, clicking on the "Apply" button will add the new mobile broadband connection to your Network Connections.

  5. To connect, click on your network icon and select the newly created entry. You should get a pop-up message saying that you are connected. to the internet.

Depending on you country and provider you are using the steps shown in point 3. can differ, but everything should be self explanatory and straightforward.