Saturday, September 24, 2011

How to use Mobile phones in Hostel without getting caught ! AKA best 3G USB Modem that doubles as Pendrive!

I had been looking for a device for making phone calls from laptop (without internet) that disguises as a pen drive to even a person who is technically sound like any of us.

This is for a friend who is a student in a college where usage of mobile phone is banned in hostel, but allowed in college campus (Strange!).

Laptop is allowed, but no internet devices is allowed as hostel provides wifi internet with screening which does not allow voip and even if it does, the speed sucks so voip is impossible. They conduct inspections and raids every now and then and hiding a mobile phone is too risky since INR20K fine if caught once and a second time its INR60K and a month suspension!

Finally I was contacted for expert advice and I have been looking for hardware that could plug into USB or PCMCIA of laptop that allows to insert a regular sim card and make voice calls just like a phone.
I started of with GSM Modem which are bulky and external devices with external chargers that connects to serial port ! Those will be obviously busted.

After investing a serious amount of time(half a day), i have finalized with a black color "megafon" branded Huawei E173 7.2 Mbps 3G USB modem.

The device looks reasonably similar to a USB pendrive, especially with the black color and the unreadable 'megafon' logo on it .
I am assuming that no one around here would be familiar with the Russian mobile service provider's logo.

It comes with a solid body and no slots or openings for antennas, an almost-undetectable forward sliding mechanism to open its casing to insert a regular sized SIM card and a microSD card.

Once connected to a Laptop, it installs a USB modem, a Virtual CD Rom drive with the driver and software for the modem and a USB mass storage drive.

The auto-mount CD drive can be disabled with AT command.

AT ^ U2DIAG = 0 (device-only modem)
AT ^ U2DIAG = 1 (the device as a modem + CD-ROM)
AT ^ U2DIAG = 255 (the device as a modem + CD-ROM + Card Reader)
AT ^ U2DIAG = 256 (the device as a modem + Card Reader).

Once installed and configured, the device is ready to make or receive voice/video calls, sms , mms and whatever you ask for !
Oh yea, and did i forgot to mention you can use internet using HSDPA/3G/EDGE/GPRS which ever available.

The software that was bundled with the device is Huawei Mobile Partner software which is easy to use and decently does its job.

Voice Call Window Screenshot :

You can use a headset/mic and i found the setup more comfortable than a regular mobile phone when using a laptop or a PC for two reasons.

1. No heating up your head with radiation when making long duration calls.
2. Ease of Keyboard/Mouse for dialing, texting and operating.

Ebay India Link:

Youtube Video :

Hope this info will be useful for people who are planning to buy a Internet on the go device from any service providers. You can opt for an unlocked device like this, and have the power of switching the operator as and when required.

College guys, if you find this useful, make sure that you keep it a secret or soon the bad guys will be checking all your USB devices too !

Nikhil Mathew