While in the UK (May-June 2009) I bought a Vodafone wireless modem (a Vodem!) which cost 40 pounds including 15 pounds worth of access (1 gigabyte) so the vodem only cost me 25 pounds. As it happens I only used 5 pounds worth of my 1 gig but that’s another issue. At that price, given how useful it was at times, it has probably paid for itself.
However, here in NZ, the same modem on the same prepaid sort of plan costs $300, compared to the $70 it cost in the UK. So I looked into using it here in NZ. If like me you are not very knowledgeable about phones, sim cards, unlocking etc (all my phones are with Telecom NZ who don’t do the sim thing) finding this information is quite hard. It’s all there, just you need to know a lot of it to find the rest.
A few weeks ago I finally got it working, so here are the details.
1. The Vodem is a Vodafone K3565, otherwise know as a Huawei E160X. It comes preloaded with a vodafone SIM and Vodafone ‘dashboard’ software, which loads onto your PC.
2. Buy yourself a vodafone sim card ($30 in NZ, outside NZ buy a sim card for your preferred phone company).
3. Activate the sim card (you need a phone to do this, either borrow one or ask the nice guy in the shop to do it, and the next two steps, the guy in Porirua was very helpful).
4. Top up the card ($20 minimum in NZ). You need to do this to buy the broadband plan. Can be done with point 3 above, or on the website, or using the 0800 800021 number.
5. Buy the broadband plan of your choice. I chose BBLite. Apparently you can buy this by texting ‘Buy bblite’ to 756 in NZ, but the kind guy in Porirua Vodafone shop did it for me.
6.Go to the Huawei web site http://www.huawei.com/ and download the latest version of the client software for the E160 http://www.huawei.com/mobileweb/en/doc/list.do?type=-1&id=5840.
7. With the vodem in the machine, run the exe file, which will install the software onto the card, overwriting the vodafone UK stuff, and onto the PC.
8. If you now put the sim card into the vodem, and put the vodem in the machine, and start ‘Mobile Partner’, the software will recognise that the datacard is not unlocked, i.e. that it is still a Vodafone UK modem (even though the software has been removed). This is indicated by a dialogue box ‘Unlock the data card.’ which asks you to ‘Please enter the unlock code:’. At this stage you don’t have the unlock code, so don’t type anything in, otherwise you will use up one of your 10 lives!
9. Go to someone who does unlock codes for datacards. I found King Mobile Phones in the UK, who for 12 pounds will take the IMEI code off the back of your Vodem and translate it into an 8 digit unlock code for you. I paid by paypal, and the next morning in my email I had an unlock code.
10. Enter the unlock code into the Mobile Partner, and it should unlock the card, and use the details on the sim to set up your network connection. I got a whole host of TXTs from vodafone as soon as I entered the code, a sure sign it was working. Click the ‘Connect’ button to connect through to the internet.
Sounds straightforward doesn’t it! Only took me a week to work it out, so it must be reasonably easy!
Total cost of hardware, including unlocking, about $100 (37 pounds). Sim card and top up – $50, and $40 for the UK version.
Ongoing costs – $10 per 100mb, as opposed to $40 per gigabyte in the UK.
Quality of service – seems much better in NZ so far, I’ll keep you posted!
Update 21/07/2009. While this has been very useful, I never managed to get 3G connection, only GPRS. Seeing as I live and travel through 3G areas, this was a bit off a puzzle, and annoying! I finally got round to posting something about it on the vodafone forums http://forum.vodafone.co.nz/index.php?showtopic=3079&st=0&gopid=25747& and got a very simple, precise reply from John. So I put the card in and BEFORE I connected, I went into the Options/Network page, and changed the network to WCDMA preferred, rather than GSM Only, et voila, 3G connection! So the 40 quid card is finally getting used properly! Happy, happy, joy, joy!
Of course since getting back, Vodafone seemed to have dropped the price of the vodem over here, almost negating the benefits of buying it in the UK. I do now have a vodem that works in both countries, which may be useful sometime.