peteg's blog - hacking - 2018 02 11 ZTE ZIP

Too much hardware.

/hacking | Link

I've been contemplating how one connects to 3G or 4G internet. Previously I've used an Optus dongle which was sufficiently catholic amongst the various resellers of that network. Well, the days of dongles are pretty much dead: the old 3G-ish Huawei E1762 was apparently locked to the Optus network, though I didn't have a SIM to verify that. I shelled out $32 for a Telstra-locked one that refused to acknowledge a reseller's SIM; moreover unlocking it seemed painful and probably expensive.

The solution, of course, is a super-cheap Android phone. Michael Ginsburg pointed me to a ZTE Zip 4G that I acquired from Officeworks in Carlton (south of St George) for an entirely reasonable $39. Moreover his preferred unlocker did the business in about six-and-a-half hours (for $5) and the almost-free Belong SIM I bought a while back worked first try.

Allowing that this was my first encounter with Android, things didn't go too badly. The only really annoying thing was that the USB tether settings do no stick (i.e., there is no equivalent to iOS's "Trust this computer"), and it seems I need to root the device to fix that. Also, once I finally got hostapd somewhat set up on the Beaglebone Black, it seems to like to aggressively drop TCP connections (even live ones!). This might be the network though.

The whole thing has been a massive timesoak, as (cheap) hardware always is.