Hampshire Linux User Group meeting follow-up

The non-working Vodafone SIM problem has been resolved. It turns out that Vodafone don’t simply have contract mobile broadband and PAYG mobile broadband, they also have “Top Up and Go” mobile broadband. Which seems to be some sort of PAYG mobile broadband with some port blocking, implemented to stop you using VoIP or P2P services.

Anyway, that’s the SIM that I have.

Knowing that, a simple google on the settings of the various offerings shows that the APN, userid and password are different from the normal PAYG offering. Changing my connection properties in Network Manager to use the correct settings resulted in an immediate connection to the internet @ 3.6Mbps, though admittedly I could see the Vodafone mast from where I was connecting.

My next problem is to work out how to top up my credit as I use the service. Vodafone appear to have set this up so everything is done through the software that they supply to make their dongle work on Windows. Which of course, I don’t (and can’t) use, as I’m running under Linux. I was really hoping that I’d be able to check my credit & top it up via the Vodafone website, but it’s looking like it’s pretty difficult to register the SIM on their website unless you’re running their desktop software, which requires Windows. And if you’re not running Windows there is very limited support, which is rather frustrating.

I’ll keep working on it for a while longer, but it’s starting to look like I might have to install Windows and their dashboard software on a spare partition just to get the SIM registered on their website, which is not exactly ideal.

Update: I finally managed to work out how to register the SIM on the Vodafone website so that I can check my credit balance, and top up the credit on the SIM using my credit card. The website is quite large and complex, and there seems to be more focus on advertising and upselling of products to their customers than on the usability of the core function of managing existing products, which didn’t help much. Still, I got there in the end.

As a Linux user, wanting to register a “TopUp and Go” SIM without resorting to Windows, this is the process I suggest you follow:

  • Register for “My Account” on the Vodafone website. This simply gives you an account on their website, but doesn’t associate any products with your account.
  • Now put your data SIM into an ordinary (Vodafone) mobile phone.
  • Enter *#100# and press send. The network will now tell you what mobile phone number is associated with your data SIM.
  • Login to your account and register a “Pay As You Use” phone. The website will ask you to enter the phone number of the phone. Enter the phone number you obtained in the previous step.
  • The website will now send you an SMS message, containing a secret code. You can read this on your mobile phone.
  • Enter the secret code back into the website (proving you own the SIM you are registering), and the website will ask you for the remaining information it needs to associate the SIM with your account. It automatically works out that you have a “TopUp and Go” data SIM rather than a standard PAYG mobile phone SIM.
  • You can now see your credit limit by logging into your account.
  • You can also associate a credit card (or your bank details) with your “My Account”, and use it to top up your SIM as required.
  • Remember to put your data SIM back in the USB dongle, and your voice SIM back in your mobile phone.

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