Authors: Giulio Bottazzi
Contact: <>
Date: 13 October 2010
Version: 0.5



These notes explain how to setup and use the HUAWEI E1692 HSDPA USB modem on your Linux system.

I'm writing these notes because the software included in the modem by the service provider, TIM in my case, does not work so well.

The following instructions have been tested on a Gentoo system, but they should apply with minimal modifications to any Linux box. A substantial part of them come from 'Santinoli' blog. I provide a modified 'chat' script which result, on my system, in a much faster data transfer. I've also added a set of 'udev' rules that allow for an automatic configuration of the device.

Hardware configuration

In order to have the modem functioning you need to have all necessary modules compiled in the kernel. The HUAWEI E169 is both a HDSPA modem and a storage device. Indeed it contains a MicroSD Card Slot. We will ignore the storage aspect of the device and focus on its use as a modem. Once the device is plugged in, it is necessary to tell the system to recognize it as a communication device rather then an external disk. For this purpose we are going to use a specific piece of software called usb_modeswitch

But let's start from the beginning.

Kernel options

In recent kernel, the HUAWEI E196 modem is supported by the USB serial 'option' driver (option module). To use it, you also need the support for the PPP protocol and for asynchronous serial ports. To verify if these drivers are compiled in the kernel, use:

zgrep "CONFIG_PPP" /proc/config.gz
zgrep "CONFIG_PPP_ASYNC" /proc/config.gz
zgrep "CONFIG_USB_SERIAL_OPTION" /proc/config.gz

or check your kernel configuration (on Gentoo systems, if you use genkernel, kernel configurations can be found in /etc/kernels/).

If the options are not set as module (this is the case if they are follows by a =m), recompile your kernel with the following options activated:

Device Drivers  ---> USB Support --->
   [M] USB Serial Converter support --->
        [M] USB driver for GSM and CDMA modems

Device Drivers  ---> Network device support  --->
   [M] PPP (point-to-point protocol) support
   [M] PPP support for async serial ports

If you say [M] for "USB Serial Converter support" and for "USB driver for GSM and CDMA modems", you get the 'option' module.

Checking the device

Once the drivers are available, plug the key and use:

lsusb -v

to see if the modem has been properly recognized. You should see something like:

idVendor           0x12d1 Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.
idProduct          0x1446
bcdDevice            0.00
iManufacturer           3 HUAWEI Technology
iProduct                2 HUAWEI Mobile

At this point it is quite likely that the device has been recognized as an external storage device. You can check this using:

tail /var/log/message

and look for a string like:

... sd 4:0:0:0: [sdb] Attached SCSI removable disk
... sd 4:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg1 type 0
... sr0: scsi-1 drive
... Uniform CD-ROM driver Revision: 3.20
... sr 3:0:0:0: Attached scsi CD-ROM sr0
... sr 3:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg2 type 5
... usb-storage: device scan complete

Switching to modem mode

The E1692 modem has a dual nature: it is both a communication and a storage device. It is in general recognized by the kernel as a device of the latter type. In this case, it is necessary to change its mode of operation. The program usb_modeswitch has been designed for this purpose.

Install the program using the package provided by your system. Under Gentoo it's simply:

emerge usb_modeswitch

possibly after having unmasked the package:

echo sys-apps/usb_modeswitch >> /etc/portage/package.keywords

If your version is 1.1.1 or newer, the software automatically detects the modem and no further configuration is necessary. You can safely jump to udev rules. If your version is older, read what follows.

Once the package is installed, edit its configuration file /etc/usb_modeswitch.conf commenting everything out and inserting the following lines

DefaultVendor=  0x12d1
DefaultProduct= 0x1446

TargetVendor=   0x12d1
TargetProduct=  0x140c

MessageEndpoint= 0x01

At this point it is sufficient to start the program:

# usb_modeswitch

and the modem nature of the device should become available. Check if the device changed its mode by inspecting \var\log\messages. You should find something like:

... GSM modem (1-port) converter detected
... GSM modem (1-port) converter now attached to ttyUSB0

possibly for up to four different devices /dev/ttyUSB[0,1,2,4] which have been created. Your modem is ready to be used.

udev rules

In principle one can automatically load the option module at boot time by inserting a line in /etc/modules.autoload.d/kernel-2.6 and manually switch the device to modem mode.

We will follow a more sophisticated approach: we will create an explicit rule for udev.

Edit the file /etc/udev/rules.d/50-huawei.rules inserting the following lines

SUBSYSTEM=="usb", SYSFS{idProduct}=="1446", SYSFS{idVendor}=="12d1", RUN+="/sbin/modprobe option"
SUBSYSTEM=="usb", SYSFS{idProduct}=="1446", SYSFS{idVendor}=="12d1", RUN+="/usr/sbin/usb_modeswitch"

This file tells the system that if the device is inserted, it should load the 'option' module and switch to modem mode. Issue the following command to let the system know about your new setting:

# udevadm control --reload-rules

unplug and plug again the USB device. Toward the end of the log file /var/log/messages you should find something like:

... option 5-1.2:1.0: GSM modem (1-port) converter detected
... usb 5-1.2: GSM modem (1-port) converter now attached to ttyUSB0

If this is the case, the udev system is working as expected.

Software configuration

The HUAWEI E1692 adapter works as a modem and relies on PPP to establish a connection. One can in principle use any PPP management program. Several GUI programs are available for both KDE and Gnome. In what follows I stick with a bare-bone approach.

ppp configuration

The necessary software is called 'ppp'. Install it using the package management system of your Linux distribution (in gentoo, it's emerge net-dialup/ppp). Once the package is installed, create the following file

remotename huawei
ipparam huawei
# connect script
connect "/usr/sbin/chat -v -s -f /etc/ppp/chat-tim"
# dns, routing

This file defines the connection parameters. In particular it calls a chat script to start the connection. Create the script as follows

ABORT 'Username/Password Incorrect'
'' ATZ
'OK-+++\c-OK' ATH0
'OK' ATDT*99#
CONNECT        \c                              \

At this point you should be able to start the PPP connection simply using:

pon tim

and stop it with:

poff tim

Turning off PIN checking

In order to work the procedure above could possibly require that the initial check of the PIN value is turned off in the data SIM. This can be obtained by inserting the SIM card in a regular mobile phone and selecting the appropriate option, or by installing the software provided by the producer and distributed together with the device, under Windows or Linux. This software is pre-installed on the internal memory of the device, which can be accessed as a regular USB memory key.