3 Australia Prepaid Mobile Broadband with Ubuntu

Ok, I promised you that I’d explain how to get mobile broadband with the 3 network working in Australia. There some information out there about how to do this, but it’s a bit hard to find, and what’s there can be obtuse. Geeks really need to learn how to communicate.

Here’s the lowdown: Ubuntu 8.10 is awesome in many ways. NetworkManager 0.7.0 is one of those ways. It already knows how to set up a mobile broadband connection for you, which is almost excellent. The only thing lacking in the ‘druid’ or ‘wizard’ or whatever they’re calling it these days is that it doesn’t do 3 mobile broadband if you’re using prepaid, which I am.

You only need one setting: the correct APN, which is: 3services

To save you the hassle of looking up the appropriate posts over at Whirlpool, or whever you get your aussie broadband info from, here’s how to use it.

Step 1: Install Ubuntu 8.10. Failing that, install NetworkManager 0.7.0. If you’re using some other distro, sorry, I can’t help you.

Step 2: Insert your 3 mobile broadband USB dongle thingy. The kernel will recognise it (I’m running 2.6.27-11-generic, if that helps), and NetworkManager will likely load up a druid to help you configure it. If you’ve already played around with the dongle (and who doesn’t like playing with a new dongle?), it may not automatically pull up the edit. That’s ok, you can do it manually.

Right click on the NetworkManager icon, and select ‘Edit connections…’. Select the ‘Mobile Broadband’ tab, and follow the prompts. Select the ‘Three’ network, and just let it set up the network how it wants.

Step 3: Fix the APN the druid got wrong. The APN set by the druid is the standard 3 mobile broadband; for some reason they use a different APN for prepaid acounts. The APN you need is the aforementioned ‘3services’. No quotes. Whack that in, and it’ll work a treat. Simple.

I have no idea how you get access to the SMS capabilities of the dongle under linux, so for now you’ll need access to a Windows or OSX machine to set up your My3 account so you can recharge things. For some insane reason, they send you your initial registration password via SMS to the dongle, not via email like every other ‘I forgot my password’ thing on the internet. To get the SMS, you have to install their custom app, which only works under Windows or OSX, of course.

Apart from that, it works nicely. I hope you can now enjoy mobile broadband via 3 in Australia.

Oh, for people using other networks, check the APN with someone with the same service. The connection does a weird PPP/IPCP negotiation failure thing when you get the APN wrong that can throw you off diagnosing the problem. If you get lines like this:

Jan 28 15:08:40 daggit pppd[9162]: sent [CHAP Response id=0x1 <0423d12c2de1cb1c2ff958a6d098720d>, name = "3ne
Jan 28 15:08:40 daggit pppd[9162]: rcvd [CHAP Success id=0x1 ""]
Jan 28 15:08:40 daggit pppd[9162]: CHAP authentication succeeded
Jan 28 15:08:40 daggit pppd[9162]: CHAP authentication succeeded
Jan 28 15:08:40 daggit pppd[9162]: sent [CCP ConfReq id=0x1 <deflate 15> <deflate(old#) 15> <bsd v1 15>]
Jan 28 15:08:40 daggit pppd[9162]: sent [IPCP ConfReq id=0x1 <compress VJ 0f 01> <addr> <ms-dns1> <ms-dns2>]
Jan 28 15:08:40 daggit pppd[9162]: rcvd [LCP ProtRej id=0x2f 80 fd 01 01 00 0f 1a 04 78 00 18 04 78 00 15 03 2f]
Jan 28 15:08:40 daggit pppd[9162]: Protocol-Reject for 'Compression Control Protocol' (0x80fd) received
Jan 28 15:08:41 daggit pppd[9162]: rcvd [IPCP ConfNak id=0x1 <ms-dns1> <ms-dns2> <ms-wins> <ms-wins>]
Jan 28 15:08:41 daggit pppd[9162]: sent [IPCP ConfReq id=0x2 <compress VJ 0f 01> <addr> <ms-dns1> <ms-dns2> <ms-wins> <ms-wins>]
Jan 28 15:08:42 daggit pppd[9162]: Hangup (SIGHUP)
Jan 28 15:08:42 daggit pppd[9162]: Modem hangup

then you’ve probably got the APN wrong. I know it doens’t look like it, but there you go. Get the APN right, and it all works a treat.

Hope this helps you. Enjoy!

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  1. hii.. I need help me to configure 3 mobile broadband on ubuntu…I’m newbie..

  2. Which bit do you need help with?

  3. I submitted a patch for this early January, 3 prepaid should work out of the box in a future release of NetworkManager.


  4. Ace. Well done! I hope it helps out a bunch of people.

  5. THANK YOU!!!

    I’ve been working around with this for hours using network manager, vodafone driver, and wvdial, but nothing worked till I read this post. Such a simple correction, and everything works. Beautiful.

  6. Awesome. Happy to have helped. :)

  7. Thanks so much for taking the time to document this. Worked like a dream (Ubuntu 8.10, Hawei E160G Usb Three Mobile).

  8. How do you tell it to connect and disconnect. My green light is on and I have disabled my wireless, but I see no icon or menu option etc to actually control it. Any ideas?

  9. Hi Matt!

    If the green light is hard on, that means it’s already connected, so it should be working.

    You can control it through NetworkManager. Up on the top right, there should be a little icon that looks like two computer screens, one behind the other. That’s the NetworkManager applet.

    If you left-click on the icon, you should get a pulldown list of networks you can connect to. There should be one called “Three”, or whatever you called your connection when you set it up. Click on that, and it’ll fire up your wireless broadband connection.

  10. I recently did an install on a friends PC of Ubuntu 9.04. The live cd worked perfectly with the 3 mobile broadband prepaid. However, when I actually did the install the modem seems setup ok, says it’s connected ok, but it doesn’t find any websites. It seems to have DNS server entries setup but nothing happens – can’t connect to google or the update service etc. Any ideas?

  11. Hi Mark

    An initial warning, I’m very much a networking NOOB, however…

    Had same problem (Ubuntu 9.10), but, could connect to ip addresses. Try entering a IP address ( for Google).

    If that works I seem to have got around problem by System>Preferences>Network Proxy. Then clicked ‘Direct internet connection’ and ‘Apply System Wide’.

    Have no idea at all what was causing the problem, but, so long as you either keep a record of everything you change or create a new location then trying the above shouldn’t do any damage.

    Good luck and best wishes of the season.

  12. Hi Mark,

    I had something similar when I upgraded to 9.10. For me, it turned out to be an issue with NetworkManager having some manual entries for DNS that were overriding the ones received when it connected to Three.

    Check the IPs in /etc/resolv.conf and compare them to the ones that show up in /var/log/syslog as the connection comes up. They should be the same.

    Make sure your settings in NetworkManager will take the DNS entries provided when it connects.

  13. Sorry to open up an old topic, But iv recently installed the latest version of Ubuntu.. (im a complete noob btw) and i can’t seem to get it to work with my 3 mobile broadband Huawei e1553 usb.

    The APN was already set to 3 Services, So that wasnt the problem.

    When i click the 3 icon on the home screen it just opens the contents of the usb and the auto run feature doesnt seem to work with linux..

    Do i need to convert the files from exe.? or is it something completely different?

    Does anyone have any advice? Or know of another network that provides a mobile broadband usb compatible with the latest version of ubuntu?

    Thankyou in advance :)

    Kind Regards,

  14. Hi Anna,

    I haven’t upgraded my laptop to 10.4 LTS as yet (I assume that’s what you mean by latest), but I’ll give you some pointers:

    You can see the APN, and it’s set to 3services, which is really good. You don’t need to click on the ‘3’ icon, because that’s the shortcut to the little USB storage stick thing that is also on the USB modem. That’s there for Windows users to install some software; you don’t need to do that with Ubuntu.

    Instead, left click on the Network Manager icon. You should see a list of network categories, like ‘Wired Network’. Find the entry that says ‘Three’ and click on it.

    The Network Manager icon will change to some swirly things that stop after maybe 10 seconds, and a popup will say you’re connected to Three wireless broadband.

    That’s all there is to it!

  15. Ill try that right now, thankyou so much for responding so quickly.. im still getting my head around this new OS :D

  16. No problem! Let me know how you go.

    It’s great to see more people trying out Ubuntu. From the little I’ve seen of the new version so far (I just installed it on my wife’s laptop) it looks really shiny and easy to use. I’m impressed, and I’ve been using Ubuntu for years.

  17. Its working perfectly now, im so excited haha.

    Again thankyou so much :)

  18. Excellent news! Well done.

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