Tag Archives: SingTel

mifi good and bad with the huawei e5830

so, I’ve been using the E5380 for 6 weeks now. The experience has been mixed, at times, it works great and flawlessly, and at times, it’s just horrendous.

So, would this be a device the I recommend, yes definitely; but know it’s limitations. To be fair, I’m using Singtel here in Singapore, and the device Singtel sells is the e5832. I could be that the e5830 is not totally well compatible with Singtel.

Before I get all too technical here, this is what I have experienced….

The situations are 2 extremes…

  1. the device works flawlessly and delivers uninterrupted internet access
  2. the device connects to the internet, works for a few mins and then loses connection, but thinks it’s still online

So far, I don’t have a clear clue on why exactly this is happening. From my observation and numerous internet posts, plus comparing some specs, I believe there are 3 possibilities

  1. what I do notice is that connection tends to be very flaky when signal strength is weak. But if I switch the device to force it to connect only using GSM (and never 3G) it will work smoothly, just slow. So here, I question what’s wrong that is preventing the device to switch network automatically… very much like what the E220 USB dongle can do.
  2. Reading from some aussie forums, it appears that there are users with the E5830 that encountered the same symptoms as I have. ie, the device works very well and consistently in some areas, and in others, flaky. What they have observed but unable to confirm is that it could have been a carrier network issue. So for many of them, without doing anything to the devices, all of the sudden at the areas where the device worked bad, it was performing fine already. The conclusion there is that there was some operating issue with their mobile provider and it was fixed at the carrier end.
  3. Singtel does issue the E5832 with the high end post paid plans, and comparing the difference between the E5830 and E5832, is that the E5832 supports WCDMA 2100/900MHz where the E5830 only supports WCMDA 2100MHz. Could it be that to work well with the Singtel network, I need the WCDMA 900MHz also? I don’t know, so far I’m not able to find any details online about what frequencies does Singtel 3G network operate on. In addition, my friend has the exact same model as me, just that he’s using Starhub. Starhub has the E5830, and his experience has been all much better than mine. In areas where I have dodgy signals, his still works smoothly. Will need more testing to see how well it performs in areas of weak signal strength.

There are alternatives out there for 3G pocket router solutions. The Novatel MIFI is definitely discouraged from the stories I’ve heard. But now, manufacturers like Aztech and Dlink produce 3G routers which you can plug your good ol 3G USB dongles to. I’ve read that some of the newer routers are USB powered, but have yet to be able to validate that. If true, it could be a viable alternative, BUT with a heavier baggage. The E583x models are still the slimmests and most portable around.

PPTP over cellular network with iPhone 3GS

ever since I upgraded my iPhone to OS3.0, I’ve been having trouble trying to get PPTP VPN to work. Never had the time to seriously look at it until now.

My VPN end point is a Linksys WRT54GL running with DD-WRT. I know that PPTP service works there as I can connect with my notebook, even with my 3G dongle.

Initial findings pointed towards the support for encryption on the DD-WRT implementation, and it has to be forced to “none” on the iPhone. Even that didn’t work.

With the release of OS 3.1, I started to tether my notebook to the iPhone, and through that, the PPTP will fail. That stumped me! Initially I thought could be due to the NAT implementation to enable tethering.

With trial and errors, I found out that over a WIFI connection, PPTP connection will work. Did I forget to mention that CISCO based IPSEC VPN to my office network works nicely over cellular and WIFI? That really baffled me. So, there’s something that’s in place that only works for IPSEC over cellular.

Finally, I came across some forum postings that lead me to the solution. There are many other people with similar issues in Canada and USA, and for some, they are able to tweak their APN on the phone to a different one and it worked for them. Of course they needed to be on different data subscription etc… for that to work.

I’m in Singapore, and my cellular provider is SingTel. I whipped out my iPhone 3GS and compared it’s APN settings to my 3G dongle for my notebook. Wallah! they are different, even though they are both with SingTel. I swapped in the new APN settings on to the iPhone, and PPTP started to work.

So, for all those in Singapore and on SingTel with similar needs and issues, the solution is to change the APN from “e-ideas” to “internet”. And here’s SingTel’s official instructions. BTW, these instructions are generic for all data devices.

For everyone else, what I realize from this is that some services/ports are controlled by the service provider. So, just by changing the APN won’t work if you don’t have access to the relevant APN.

If you need some guide on how to set your APN on your iPhone, the official Apple guide is found here.

*update 2009 Oct 09* after changing the APN, the “tethering” feature disappears. But if I reset the “Cellular Network” settings, “tethering” comes back. Got to figure out how to enable both.