Airtel 3G and Fedora-16

This weekend I got myself a shiny new Airtel 3G USB modem. It is a Huawei E1731 model of the data card that supports speeds up to 7.2Mbps and also has some storage capacity. Though it says up to 7.2Mbps, I did not expect it to go anywhere beyond 100Kbps. Needless to say, I was absolutely shocked & thrilled at the same time when I saw this: Airtel 3G

I was like – WOW! 🙂

It took me some time to make it work with the F16 machine; for the install scripts had numerous bugs of unresolved paths and compilation failures. The install script comes with a NDIS kernel driver and other library modules. So after fixing installtion, I started wvdial(1), which of-course failed saying: “COMMAND NOT SUPPORTED”.

There was no way to know which command not supported. First I thought it was because the NDIS driver failed to load, but even after compiling that driver myself and inserting it with insmod(8), the dongle refused to work. After searching a little and some trial and error I finally settled for the following wvdial(1) configuration.

# cat wvdial.conf
[Dialer Defaults]
Init1 = ATZ
Init2 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2
Init3 = AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP",""

ISDN = 0
Modem Type = Analog Modem

Phone = *99#
Username = www
Password = www

Baud = 9600
Modem = /dev/ttyUSB0

This is automatically generated by the wvdialconf(1) program. Except the Init3 string which is shown in bold above. That is the string which helps in initialising the device.[1]

The solid(un-blinking) cyan light on the device says: connected to the 3G+ network. I hope it only gets better from here. 🙂


6 thoughts on “Airtel 3G and Fedora-16

  1. Did you need to do all that to use the modem? I am using Airtel too but ZTE MF190,and this is Nigerian Airtel. I didnt need to install anything to use it. The only setback here is that I don’t see a way of recharging airtime (no interface for that). Does your approach address that?

    • Install script installs hundreds of libraries, few driver modules, html documentation and configuration files. All this for the Airtel’s desktop application I think. It might not directly help the device or connection in anyway.

      For recharging, the Airtel’s desktop application might help with that.

  2. Hello PJP,

    I bought an Airtel 3G with E1731Bu-1 modem recently. Followed your configuration. But, I am getting pppd Exit Code 16 error. While searching I found some alternate configuration compared to what you have given.

    These are the differences.
    Phone = *99***1#
    Username and Password: instead of www
    Baud = 460800
    Stupid Mode = 1

    Any insight?


    • Hello Anand,

      Both settings work for me. Username/Password is not really required, www works. Stupid mode is to make wvdial(1) start pppd daemon immediately, instead of waiting for login prompt from the server. The different Phone number seems to connect to different sub-network.

      Thank you! 🙂

      • Thanks PJP,

        Actually I could get it working in Debian GNU/Linux. Looks like some provisioning problem from Airtel side since it is a new connection. This is the configuration I tried, but as you said others also should work, but I need to try different settings.
        [Dialer Defaults]
        Init1 = ATZ
        Init2 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0
        Init3 = AT+CGDCONT=1,”IP”,””
        Modem Type = Analog Modem
        Phone = *99#
        Username =
        Password =
        New PPPD = yes
        Modem = /dev/ttyUSB0
        Baud = 460800
        Stupid Mode = 1

        Thanks and Regards

        Twitter: @anand_sivaram

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