Mobile wireless prepaid plans

I mentioned in the previous blog post that I am thinking of buying a USB wireless modem so that I can get online while working in Perth, Australia (at the Royal Show).

Vodafone have a very good deal, just $49 prepaid, 1GB for 30 days:

...any Aussie guy reading this who knows about the suitability of Vodafone and this modem with Linux?

Telstra is approx. twice the price:

Posted on 23 Sep 2010, 9:29


Posted on 23 Sep 2010, 10:41 by D2R
WBB options
Vodafone are very capital city-centric. Telstra is indeed very expensive with the best coverage. Have a look at Dodo and Virgin; both are re-badged Optus and have very good deals (of the order of about $150 for 15GB over 12 months) that should work in lots of places.

Posted on 23 Sep 2010, 10:48 by ted dog
virin MIFI
Just switched off my USB modem to a Virgin MiFi 2200. It works great in any computer that has a wifi, Linux, or that other, check the /etc/conf file for usb_modeswitch forgot the full name and see if your product is covered for the USB modems. If it newer you can use the commandline looking up the setting online.

Posted on 23 Sep 2010, 11:13 by scsijon
vode-to-puppy warning
You also need to check what's the extra cost if you let it "run out" (ie gone home and don't "recharge" the units useage in time). Some of them have a fairly decent sized reconnect cost.

most work ok with linux if you can wifi

Posted on 23 Sep 2010, 11:36 by muggins2
At the moment I think dodo has the best recharge options. Dodo works fine in capital cities. I went up east coast NSW, and it worked fine most places. The only thing I need to do with it is use /etc/ppp/ip-up to point to open dns servers.

Posted on 23 Sep 2010, 13:59 by aarf
usb moden vs mobile phone and cable
long ago when wanting to laptop connect via wireless i looked into to this usb modem thing and at that time the best way price ways was to cable connect a mobile phone and that is what i still do now. plus you have the phone and often just surf with the phone. laptop connect in puppy is always-on but with opera-mini on your phone it is on-demand which saves vast amounts of time if you are on a time based package..
bluetooth connect your phone still hasn't been cracked by me or anyone i know of in puppy but can do in knoppix.
prices may have changed to alter the balance but i would still prefer the phone option.
my current 3g phone cost about AUD$66.
100 hours of GPRS connection costs about AUD$12.. no 3g where i am yet. not in oz.

Posted on 23 Sep 2010, 17:38 by wombat01
Barry I did a lot of work with rerwin to get the prepaid vodafone wireless modem going. It works great in most of the latest distros with his package. A friend of mine is using it on a 7" eeepc in Katherine NT at the moment with puppeee.

Posted on 23 Sep 2010, 17:46 by BarryK
Re Vodafone
That's great news. I'll probably go for that one, due to the low up-front cost, also low-cost recharges relative to Telstra. I only need to use it when I'm in Perth or Melbourne, so no problem with Vodafone being city-centric.

scsijon mentions a reconnect cost, do you know anything about that? I will probably be in that situation, let it expire, then buy another 30-days some time later, etc.

Posted on 23 Sep 2010, 18:35 by BarryK
Dodo -- no!
I won't go back to Dodo!

I had a dialup account with them about four years ago. I paid in advance annually, by cheque. I did not renew the account, and I phoned them to tell them that I would not be renewing, when I got satellite Internet.

About three years later I received a letter from a collection agency that I owed about $250 to Dodo (the annual fee). I had received no communications from Dodo in those three years, nothing at all.

It took a few phone calls, to the collection agency and to Dodo, and Dodo cancelled the bill.

The thing is, my account was strictly pay-in-advance, so there was no way I could owe them money. The whole thing was pretty shonky, and the guy at the collection agency commented that I was not the only one complaining about Dodo. I reckon that it was what the workers unions call a "gambit claim". Whatever, really shonky.

I'm glad that I never gave them my credit card details. In fact, I always try to pay any company either cash or cheque.

Posted on 23 Sep 2010, 18:57 by BarryK
Re Dodo
Hmmm, I suppose that I shouldn't call them shonky, they might sue me for defamation! A nicer interpretation would be that they made an accounting error.

Posted on 23 Sep 2010, 20:29 by ozsouth
Virgin BB
I use Virgin BB & have introduced it to a few retired gents - $149 a year for 12Gb is a good pensioner deal. Uses Optus towers. I have used the packaged Huawei 1762 with several puppies, using puppy's PGPRS connection files. APN is VirginBroadband, dial *99#, default user/pw. Signal is good even down Melbourne's outer peninsulas.

Posted on 23 Sep 2010, 22:04 by adi
Vodafone ro
In Ro Vodafone is chipper, about 10-30 euro for a month for prepay (different limits in Gb) but I still don't know how to configure puppy or quirky to connect at internet. ( I have a postpayed new hsupa modem with 2Gb, for 8 euro, but I can use the sim card even in handset, which is very usefull when travelling.

Posted on 23 Sep 2010, 24:57 by zygo
Vodaphone in UK insist registration or on payment online. I use Three who have the option to buy a voucher with cash from shops. However, not all small shops have the modern tills that can print the voucher number and I fear they will insist on payment online some day. It does not come with a card for crediting the account and there is no registration.

I bought the modem (with no credit) for UKP20 and the vouchers start at UKP15 for 3GB upto 30 days.

Posted on 24 Sep 2010, 6:07 by wombat01
Barry the Vodafone $150 for 12G with a 365 expiry date is not a bad deals either.

Posted on 24 Sep 2010, 6:58 by Rob
Last January we were visiting Rockingham & purchased vodafone's prepaid mobile broadband (Model K3765). It worked fine (signal not brilliant) on a Windows 7 laptop. Since returning to Townsville, have had it lapse and "lost" the remaining credits, but have been able to recharge and get back online on a couple of separate occasions.

Posted on 24 Sep 2010, 13:00 by BarryK
Purchased K3571-Z
Ok, I have purchased a Vodafone unit, model K3571-Z. I'm running XP with it right now, as I can't get it to work in Wary. Oh, Internet Explorer 6.0 sure renders my blog poorly!

I was using PupDial, it recognises the modem as /dev/ttyUSB1, but no matter what I try, I get "no carrier". Hmmm.

I looked at the log in /tmp, usb_modeswitch is working fine.

The docs state to leave username and password empty, but PupDial won't accept that, so I just put "bk" into both. Dialup number is "*99#", I tried without any APN, and with two different APNs "vfprepaymbb" (in the prepaid mobile booklet) and (in the sim card booklet). Also tried without any PIN, and with "0000" which the sim card booklet has. Nothing works, always get "no carrier".

Posted on 24 Sep 2010, 13:21 by 01micko
try appending -chap to /etc/ppp/options .. worked for me with vodafone and virgin on machines I have set up for relations.
There is also good info in Whirlpool forums, cthisbear will know some links for sure.

Posted on 24 Sep 2010, 14:29 by adi
no ie6
At work I use win xp and it's better to forget about ie6. I use portable firefox or opera usb instead in order not to interfere with other settings of the os. The render is good in both browsers (the paf extention is an archive)

The yellow window in puupy for internet connection with gprs modem does not want to close after edit...

Posted on 24 Sep 2010, 15:25 by Rob
Vodfone setup
I also have setup a couple of Linux Mint systems with my vodafone mobile broadband. The following has worked for me.....

Number: *99#
Username: input the actual phone number of the mobile broadband service

Password: input password registered with the vodafone online account (mine was set up when I bought the device)

APN: vfprepaymbb

Network - leave blank

PIN: 0000

Good Luck!

Posted on 24 Sep 2010, 15:44 by muggins2
going blue?
so the led never starts flashing blue? What does hardinfo say vendor & product ID is?

Posted on 24 Sep 2010, 16:14 by BarryK
Re blue flashing
Everything is ok regarding the device detection. The light flashes blue, meaning it is ready to connect. It uses the 'option' kernel driver.

input the actual phone number of the mobile broadband service

...I haven't got a clue what that is.

Password? The only thing when I bought it, the guy registered it and asked me to give a 6-digit pin number --dunno what that is for.

Posted on 24 Sep 2010, 16:25 by Rob
actual phone number
Sorry Barry, I should be precise - the actual phone number is the mobile number on the prepaid SIM starter pack. The password would be the 6-digit pin number that you gave the guy when you registered it.

You can go online and check out your account usage etc - using the mobile number and the 6-digit pin (password).

Posted on 24 Sep 2010, 17:13 by BarryK
Going downhill
Ok, thanks.

But, things have got worse, now usb-modeswitch reports it cannot switch to modem mode. I tried a pristine boot, same thing. It still works in Windows.

I haven't got much time for all this messing around. I will leave it awhile.

Actually, if I decide that I can't be bothered, I will sell it to my relative. She doesn't have her Optus stick anymore and needs one, and she runs XP.

Posted on 24 Sep 2010, 17:43 by wombat01
Barry try this:

Posted on 24 Sep 2010, 19:19 by ozsouth
PGPRS works
As stated before - use Puppy's GPRS setup & connect - it works. I never got pupdial to work with mobile bband.

Posted on 24 Sep 2010, 23:31 by zygo
usb_modeswitch diagnosis
If it has worked in XP since it stopped switching in Puppy then things are indeed bleak.

I would be interested to get more info on the failure to switch from dmesg or:
Excerpt from the maker's site
For debugging of the automated system integration, edit (as root or su) /etc/usb_modeswitch.conf in a text editor and change the line


This gives you a verbose output of the hotplug activity to /var/log/usb_modeswitch_<device>.
Comment out the device's rule in 40-usb_modeswitch.rules
# Vodafone (ZTE) K3571-Z
ATTRS{idVendor}=="19d2", ATTRS{idProduct}=="1009", RUN+="usb_modeswitch '%b/%k'"

then run usb_modeswitch in an rxvt window -- you'll have to check the help for parameters.

Posted on 25 Sep 2010, 3:55 by technosaurus
cradlepoint router
I finally gave up on tweaking mine and bought a $99 cell router. Works great and my connection is faster too.

Posted on 25 Sep 2010, 18:31 by adi
technosaurus - cradlepoint router

Very good idea but it is not portable... I heard that some software simply delete files needed for auto configuration from the usb 3G modem. Perhaps they will worrk only once.

Posted on 26 Sep 2010, 15:33 by cthisbear
How do I get a Vodafone (UK) usb modem working on Lucid?


Same post
"Hi, Just done this for my Brother in Law.
Works a treat. Follow link to Betavine site and follow step by step instructions. Installed on 9.04 no problem, assume will work with 10.04."


Nothing much on Whirlpool.


Posted on 2 Dec 2010, 14:03 by Robert Collins
udev rule for K3571-Z
This blog seems to have google juice for the K3571-Z issues - I've found a fix in the bcm repository for it, and it will be in the next Ubuntu release - see for details