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Exploring WWAN Options on ThinkPad X220

Posted <2016-08-05 Fri 12:10> by Aaron S. Jackson.

I recently came across the data SIM cards on the Andrews & Arnold website. It made me think about how convenient it would be to have a connection everywhere. They offer a SIM card with a NAT-free static IP for £0.02/MB. Per byte, this is quite a bit more expensive compared to some of the other deals you can get from companies such as Three. However, that would be £10+/month going out, every month, even if I don't use it. The charge for this SIM is £2/month, and it can be suspended for the months I don't need it.

To sync my local Maildir uses about 2MB of data, assuming nothing has actually changed. However, I keep my INBOX small, so I can just sync that. I'm also often connected to IRC, which is also very lightweight. I haven't finished getting all of this set up yet, but I will configure iptables to only allow a few ports on the WWAN card. These will likely be SSH, IRC, SMTP and IMAP. Unfortunate most websites are too heavy, and therefore too expensive to browse with this data plan.

Since my ThinkPad didn't have a WWAN card when I bought it, I ordered a Gobi 3000 off eBay. There were no complaints during boot, so it must have been on the whitelist. I spent a whole day trying to get this working but had no luck. At first I thought it was something to do with PPP, but then I explored a little further. AT+CREG? and AT+CSQ were telling me that I wasn't registered on the network and didn't have any signal. I don't know if it is faulty, or if it needs its firmware replacing, but I've sent it back. I've ordered an Ericsson F5521GW this time, which will hopefully work a little nicer under Linux.

Update to come…

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