Saturday, 21 July 2012

Ubuntu 12.04 and the Huawei E586. Just Works.

Living out in the Irish countryside you will find fancy things like high-speed broadband to be the preserve of the city and town folk. To make up the gap USB broadband dongles are very popular and while they are capable of speeds of 21Mbps you should realistically be expecting rates closer to 1Mbps.  I have used a Huawei E160G for the last 3 years in conjunction with an Edimax 3G-6200n router to provide my home with at least some modern day trappings like WiFi, even if the speeds are not great. So when Three.ie offered me the Huawei E586 Mi-Fi device in return for a renewed contract I said "sure".


Also comes in black.
One downside of the previous E160G dongle was that it was managed via pre-installed software on the device, so messages from my broadband provider would only go to the desktop software. Of course that software never worked in Ubuntu so if the modem ever stopped working and I phoned them up I would often be asked "didn't you get the notification?"Another downside was sharing the internet with the dongle. You obviously have to plug it into whatever device you want to use the internet with, thus limiting it to one device at a time. Except for my Cr-48 which the dongle does not work with. You must physically place the SIM into the Cr-48. Hence the purchase of the Edimax router which has worked flawlessly over the last few years.


This is what comes in the box
Now we have some new technology appearing on the scene in the form of MiFi. Basically they look like early USB broadband dongles, like my original Huawei E220, except they are mini WiFi routers. You plug in, turn on and then connect your device wirelessly to the MiFi modem. One advantage is that you can connect up to 5 devices at the same time and it really is as simple as plugging in and then inputting the password for the modem on your device. It also works flawlessly with Ubuntu 12.04. Thanks to the small size and portability you are able to make sure the modem is left where it receives the best reception, as clearly indicated on the modems screen. Yet another advantage is that you do not need to leave this plugged in as it has its own internal battery. This allows you to unplug the modem, drop into into your bag and have internet connectivity wherever you go.  With up to 8 hours of battery life this should be as good as most laptops or tablets and is especially handy if you have a smartphone or tablet with limited data plans.


A quick look at some of the available settings.
Managing the modem is also a snap as like most routers you log in via your web browser. Then from here you can tweak the settings to your delight. Maybe adding stronger passwords, limiting visibility of the device and so on. You can also easily see the number of devices connected to the modem at any one time, though it should support up to five. So far I am really pleased with it and happy to recommend for anyone looking for a simple, out-of-the-box WiFi solution for their home. You do need to make sure that all your devices are WiFi capable, but  even if you have an older PC a quick stop at Amazon can fix that with WiFi dongles starting at £4.54.


I am hoping to try this out on the road in the near future and will be sure to update on how it is fairing up.


Peace.
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