Graham K. Rogers
When I am out and about with the MacBookPro in Bangkok I use the WiFi system that the local company, True, provide in many locations around the city. From experience, I know that if I am in the central shopping areas, for example, Siam, the signals are strong enough to do any work like email or websurfing that I want.
Experience tells me that certain locations, however, have abysmal signals. For example, if I am in the Pinklao area, on the Thonburi side of the river, I might as well just not bother some days.
There are also times when I am out that I am not near a mall. And in the past, when I used to ride motorcycles, it would have been impossible to get online up in the hills or in the forests, although when I was using a Palm C130, I did manage to send my article one week from near the Srinakharin Dam in Kanchanaburi.
That was why I found the idea of the CDMA wireless modem so attractive. I bought one of these after having one on test and then writing about the service provided by Hutch here. It was not only attractive to me, as a few users in the provinces, for example Prachuab Kirikan where plain old telephones (POTS) are either hard to come by or useless for the higher quaility that internet demands. The purchase saved one user a twice-weekly trip of some 25 kms to an internet shop.
Despite the somewhat slower speed that the modem provided, it always worked (unlike the True WiFi) and although not cheap, it was reasonably priced as a standby: indeed, once or twice when the university network has played up, or even at home when the phone line died and took the adsl with it, I was still able to connect with the Hutch service.
The first modem I had was the Airplus modem, but that was one of the losses in a burglary in February (2007). When I went to replace the device, the Airplus was sold out and I bought a Huawei EC325 USB modem. This was not an instant success, not least because the Hutch website had no information on the device and I had to call in the troops: the Hutch Technical team.
While the retail outlets are not always noted for being helpful -- and almost no one at these locations speaks English -- the Tech. guys are on a different level. I was contacted by Worrawut Phottirattanakhul who gave me a link to the (now updated) web pages and walked me through the setup.
One of the few casualties when I updated from Tiger to OS X, 10.5, Leopard, was the same CDMA modem. Indeed, I had become so used to it that I had let the True wifi card lapse and only bought a new one when I had the iPod touch on test. It was just as well as I had the card. Now, instead of the CDMA link, I was back to the True service. Sometimes.
Not only was the Huawei modem not working but the whole setup in Network preferences had changed and, after deleting the original Hutch settings could see no way that a new CDMA device could be added. Nothing was shown in the types of devices that were available. Like other glitches in Leopard, I guessed that I was not alone and help would arrive soon.
An email to Hutch, initially brought no response, but today (23 Nov), I was in the shower when Mr Worrawut phoned. After a brief exchange of information, he sent me email with a couple of screen shots (taken with a camera). The email included the modem driver and a PDF.
The package is also available from the downloads page for Hutch where there are drivers for both Windows and Macs (McIntosh [sic] as well as manuals in PDF format.
I opened the zipped file and a folder appeared in the new Mail Downloads folder in the Home Library folder where I could see an EC325 folder. In there were two packages: one with the driver for Intel and one for the PowerPc. The package installed easily enough, but does (correctly) require an Admin password.
Now the act of faith: the modem must be connected and we must wait. The email had "for 2 minutes". Sure enough, I started the network preferences (I waited for three minutes) and when I then pressed the + sign to "Create a new service" I found in the Interface button that the CDMA modem was recognised. I selected that and entered a service name.
In the main panel with the Huawei modem selected as the device of choice, I entered the phone number (#777), the account name (hutch) and the password (hutch), then clicked on the Advanced button at bottom right. The two items to change here are (first) Vendor: Other. Then the model: "Huawei Mobile Connect - 3G modem."
Returning to the panel, the grey "Connect" button is greyed out until the "Apply" button is clicked.
My first attempt showed that the modem was now recognised (we were getting somewhere), but two disconnects made me look again. I had mistyped the phone number (#7777 instead of #777). Once that was corrected, and Apply pressed again, we were online in a few seconds as before.
This service currently operates in the central area of Thailand, bordered by Prachuab Kirikan in the south and Ayutthaya, Lop Buri and Suphan Buri to the north as well as Trat and the popular resort of Pattaya to the east and Kanchanburi in the west. There are plans to link the entire country but this is currently mired in politics with the contractors appealing a high fine that was imposed.
Although the service is run by Hutch under a concession from the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT), it is not dissimilar to CDMA linking in other countries, such as that provided by Verizon.
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