Vodacom do not sell network locked modems in South Africa. However, the software supplied with the modems; Vodafone Mobile Connect or Vodafone Mobile Broadband, does not allow the use of SIM cards from other network operators.
The purpose of this thread is to document various methods of circumventing this restriction.
The following methods do not modify the modem in any way, and thus should have no warranty implications. I have heard rumours that Vodacare check whether the device has been active on the Vodacom network when booking it in, so if you are returning a Vodafone modem under warranty, be sure to pop in a Vodacom SIM and allow it to register on the network first.
- Add your network operator to VMB's configuration files, as done for Cell-C here.
- Use a generic dashboard such as MDMA, or MWconn, or mAcme for OS X.
- Install the original manufacturer's dashboard; Huawei Mobile Partner for Kxxxx modems, ZTE Join Air for Kxxxx-Z modems. The K3805-Z modem has an Icera chipset and does not work with Join Air.
Sometime in 2009, Huawei drivers started to appear with the .inf files modified so that the device description appeared in Device Manager as 'Vodafone Mobile Broadband' instead of 'Huawei' devices. This prevented Mobile Partner from being able to detect Vodafone devices. It is possible to search and replace in all of the .inf files supplied with the drivers, but it seems that version 21 of Mobile Partner is able to detect Vodafone devices.
The following methods do modify the modem, and thus probably void the warranty.
- Flashing the original manufacturer's dashboard to the device. Note: this is not the same flashing a new firmware, this changes the dashboard installer stored on the device's emulated CD-ROM.
- Flashing the original manufacturer's original model firmware. e.g. Flashing the E372 firmware on a K4605. Besides changing the version of the firmware on the device, this also changes the USB VID/PID codes so that the modem is appears in Device Manager as a Huawei device instead of a Vodafone Mobile Broadband device.
Recent modems require a 'flash code' before flashing, one should be able to request this from Vodacom.
Alternatively, the code can be generated using the script here, or one of the already compiled tools available.
Information on dashboard and firmware downloads here, thanks JimM!
Opcos.XML file for VMB 10.2 here, thanks Tun@!