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Thread: novatel card problems...

  1. #1
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    Default novatel card problems...

    Frustration is getting the better of me!

    I have a Novatel card which is 2 weeks old and i've had endless problems with the card. I've re-installed the software six times to try to identify why the card is so unstable. I'm running WinXP SP1 with the ver 0006 of the Vodafone software. Some highlights to my frustration...

    1) The software doesn't recognise the card. Just sits there and acquire and searching network. Red LED remains solid red. Reboot has no effect. Some times after this has happened the Vodafone software indicates: "searching for Merlin U630" while the card is in the PCMCIA slot and recognized by Windows.
    2) The software eventually recognizes the PC card and the green LED will flash (GPRS). Once a GPRS connection is made the GPRS and VodaCom SA will disappear and will indicate "unknown". When this happens the connection remains but no data can be up or downloaded. Vodafone software hangs after disconnect and sometimes a reboot will allow the card to re-connect.
    3) When the GPRS connection is stable it terminates after about 1 to 2 minutes without a reason. Just stops. Vodafone software hangs after disconnect and sometimes a reboot will allow the card to re-connect. The same happens on 3G, but have not been able to test it sufficiently.
    4) and just to add to the confusion: sometimes I can connect for longer than 5 hours without a problem!

    But the connection problems are now increasing! It seems to get worse by the day.

    I'm starting to suspect the PC card might be faulty. The card faults are intermittent.

    Vodacom3G: Would the ppl at Vodaworld be able to exchange the card for a new one? I really need this card to work!

    Any ideas out there?

  2. #2
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    Firstly, sorry about the hassles. You're having so many problems, something must be broken...

    You need to meet up with the support guys so they can swap a few things out and see where the problem lies. Could well be with the card. If the card is faulty it obviously will be swapped out.

    PM me your contact details and I'll set it up.

  3. #3
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    Sounds very similar to my experience with Novatel/3G (bought on Tuesday, yet to get one decent connection). Sometimes I can get a GPRS connection, but then can not even reliably ping the 10.15.0.1 router. One out of twenty DNS queries succeeds. At home (in an 'excellent 3G coverage area' according to the coverage map), I barely get a GPRS signal, let alone 3G.
    I get a very strong feeling that I am paying good money to take part in Vodacom's pre-alpha test cycle. When does the *real* launch happen? Has *anyone* managed to use a Novatel Merlin out-of-the-box successfully?

  4. #4
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    v3g, stephen's also got novatel, battled to get going for him as well, played around plugged in my option, reinstalled etc etc and eventually got working. But was definatelly a hassle.

    One thing I did notice and not sure if this would apply to anyone else. Are you using a desktop PC? If so, you obviously using a PCMCIA PCI Card, did XP automatically install it? And so you thought you did not need the supplied drivers? If so, you made a wrong choice. Uninstall the PCI Card, reinstall and USE THE DRIVERS. This was definatelly part of the problem because as soon as I did this Vodafone Software picked up the Novatel card etc etc straight away. the "1) The software doesn't recognise the card. Just sits there and acquire and searching network. Red LED remains solid red. Reboot has no effect. Some times after this has happened the Vodafone software indicates: "searching for Merlin U630" while the card is in the PCMCIA slot and recognized by Windows." was exactly what I had before I installed the supplied drivers and not the prebuilt XP ones.

    Not sure if this will help anyone.

  5. #5
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    My Novatel is in a PCMCIA slot in an HP notebook, and the Vodafone software sees it without problems. SMS works alright, and the software seems to be able to pick up signals etc. But it just won't connect properly. The times it says 'Connected', I get an IP address and all the routing table stuff happens as expected; but it seems that there is an extraordinary large network latency (> 1000 ms).

  6. #6
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    Just for the record - I have a Novatel card, and managed to set it up and run it without hassles straight out of the box.

    Had a minor issue with Internet Explorer and MSN Messenger not working properly at first (though my other browser and Outlook Express was fine). That was resolved within fifteen minutes, and I haven't had an issue since.

    By the way, I took my laptop to a film shoot at Kyalami race track today, and checked my e-mail and some motoring stats half-way through the day. Got 5 bars of 3G coverage (first time) and everything went as advertised - my laptop even hibernated without a problem, though I had to restart the connection when I needed to use the card.

    I know I might sound like a Vodacom stooge (which I'm NOT), but so far I have been exceptionally happy with my card and the service I've received. Everything has gone like clockwork, even though my laptop is 5 years old. And I'm hoping it's gonna stay this way. So far I've been able to connect first time every time, no card crashes, great signal and thousands of megs happily downloaded!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Diago's Avatar
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    Apart from minor issues once in a while I have been very happy with my 3G since Jan. Won't go as far as saying thousands of megs downloaded (considering the R 2 @ MB charge) but the speed and stability has only been a problem during times where there has been reported network upgrades etc.

    I still have no connection in Sandton but since I am using the company DigiNet line from there it hasn't been a major hassle.

  8. #8

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    Just for the record, also.

    I have a novatel card on a Dell Inspiron notebook, which is working just fine. Worked straight away without any hassles. I can only operate on GPRS (no 3G by me yet ), but I have run it in areas with 3g support and it was really quick.

    I have had one or two problems with the dashboard, but this usually resulted from some software trying to automatically establish a connection to the internet before the dashboard was connected (usually my antivirus update is the culprit). The result would be that the dashboard sees the card and the vodacom network, reports that GPRS is available, but refuses to connect. The error it gives is that the port is in use or busy, or the card is not working.

    I've only had this a few times though, and am able to work around it.

    Oh, and when the system gets into this state I have to reboot the pc before I can properly establish a connection again. Shutting down the dasshboard and removing the card makes no difference.

    But other than that, no problems. The other night I was connected for +/-12 hours! Didn't do much for my sleep though!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Diago's Avatar
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    pevans: I have stopped using the dashboard and my connectivity has proven to be more stable and hassle free. The dash is only needed for the drivers and to configure the dail up. Since learning how to configure the card on Linux without the dash I have had better results without the dash.

    Out of interest. I ran a Dell Lattitude 600 with the card, the dell gave up on me after 5 years of good service about 2 months ago, however I had the 3G permanently connected for 5 days running before the HDD on the dell crashed. Ie. the card did not disconnect once.

  10. #10
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    After getting help from SC at Vodacom (and, I believe, some signal tweaks at the site I was trying to connect from in Bryanston) I did manage to get a stable 3G connection - more than once, too, I am glad to say. So the problems do not appear to be card or dashboard related. Next hurdle is to get a 3G signal in Sunninghill - GPRS works, albeit slowly. Anyone getting a good 3G signal in Sunninghill?

  11. #11
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    Happy to be able to report that with the antenna attached I am now able to get a 3G signal (and stable connections) from Sunninghill!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by grubsner
    Frustration is getting the better of me!
    grubsner, any feedback after your visit to Vodaworld?

  13. #13
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    Hi V3g,

    I posted this under the "Security Settings for Vodafone Dashboard". I'll keep the feedback on the card in this thead..appologies!

    I'm still in the process of resolving the problems I have with the Novatel Card. But in the meantime a question wrt the security settings in the Dash. When you edit a profile there is a security settings tab. In the default settings the top 5 settings are ticked except the last. WIth this configuration I get Error 619 when trying to connect the the GPRS network. When I only leave the top option ticked, (Use unencrypted password) the GPRS network connects first time.

    Is this a coincidence or do I need all the security settings selected?

    After spending some time at the Vodacom offices on Thursday to resolve the problems I have with the card, maybe some feedback:

    1) I stay within an area where three basestation footprints overlap. Could continuous GPRS BS handover play a role in the connection being dropped? I have had a more stable connection with the external antenna.

    2) I still have to confirm whether the SIM card might be faulty. The SIM crashed the tech's PC with his data card. Using his datacard and my SIM also caused dashboard instabillity on my PC. The Vodashop I purchased the 3G card from, wants me to fork out R120 for a new SIM. I've decided to purchase a Pay as you Go SIM for R7 and test that way, before I buy a new SIM.

    3) The helpdesk suggested that I use the GPRS only profile where I stay, to prevent the dash searching for the 3G network. When using the PC in a 3G coverage area I can switch to the 3G preffered profile.

    When the GPRS connection corrupts, I still have an IP address but no data can be up or downloaded.

    Just for the record I know of two people using the Novatel card out of the box without any card crashes or problems.

    I have found that during high load periods on the GPRS network the 3G card has difficulty to connect. Early mornings when the network is quiet the GPRS connection connects within a seconds and flies!

    Like I've said I'm having a more stable connection with the ext antenna and was driving around yesterday running pings with good speed and BS handover.

    What I have also found was that when the notebook goes into standby (not hybernation) the card and the dash losses sync and then the connection problems start to get worse. I have re-installed the dash today to prove the point. I'll give feedback.

    The 3G connection on the card is stable and fast. So it would seem my problems are isolated to the GPRS connection. I'm constantly in contact with the tech from Vodaworld and the next step could be a visit to my home to test the GPRS network signals etc. I've also disabled the ALL auto updates on my software as suggested by pevans in this thread.

    To summarise the card is way more stable, with the old SIM card and new ext antenna. I'll do some more testing and post in this thread.

    I'll also check my PCMCIA drivers. I'm using the Texas Intruments PCI 1420 CardBus Controller in my PCMCIA slots.

    I must compliment Vodacom and v3g for going out of their way to help me resolve the card problems....Thanks!

  14. #14
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    Hi everybody

    I have in the meantime swapped my old sim for a new one, using the ext antenna and have been connected tonight for 5 hours without any problems. My connection at home is great!

    I'm still having serious connection problems with the Sasolburg basestation Antenna 2. I've contacted the ppl from 155 and they have escalated the problem to the radio guys. When I'm using Sasolburg BS Antenna 1 I have no connection problems (have only tested for a short period). I'm also on the 5th floor of a building when using ant 2. 155 could not confirm whether being 20 odd meters off the ground could affect my connection stability. There is also a large amount of repeaters, on various frequencies, ontop of the building i'm using and I've got a sneaky feeling this could also be interfering with my connection stability?!

    I'll keep the feedback coming until the problem is resolved...

  15. #15
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    Talking Novatel card problems resolved - Vodacom customer service rocks!

    Hopefully this will be my last post in this thread!

    Since Monday 11 May 2005 I've had no droppped connections or card crashes AND good GPRS speeds all day long in Sasolburg!

    As I have mentioned in the previous post the connection problems in Sasolburg had been escalated to the radio guys. I had a phone call today from a radio Eng from Vodacom to give me feedback on my problem. Apparently I was not the only GPRS user having connection problems in this particular area. They have loaded patches on the Base Station software and all the problems are a thing of the past.

    I'm using the card without the external antenna when in Sasolburg.

    Thanks Vodacom3g and 082 155 - your customer service is way above standard!

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