In order to be effective, I need to be online for a large part of my working day. Right now I’m spending a big chunk of my week either travelling or at a client site where their policies prevents me from connecting my notebook PC to the LAN and the only access I have to the Internet is via a Wyse terminal to RDP onto servers (which don’t have any of the software installed that so many websites need – for example Flash/Silverlight plugins, Java, etc.).
I’ve been given a Vodafone PC Express Card (one of the new 7.2Mbps HSUPA Option Etna cards) but I’ve been struggling to get it working with Windows Vista. Vodafone’s website indicates that Vodafone Mobile Connect (VMC) version 9.1 will work with Windows Vista and that’s certainly the experience of a colleague with an older card but each time I installed the Vodafone Mobile Connect software, the wireless LAN connection failed to obtain an IP address, falling back to automatic private IP addressing (which Vista reports as local access only).
The Option Express card is supplied with Vodafone Mobile Connect 126.96.36.19945, which is reported to resolve issues with previous VMC clients including application conflicts and failing LAN/WLAN connections. I’d tried a custom installation without Vodafone’s WLAN components as Windows Vista is perfectly capable of managing my notebook’s built-in Intel PRO/Wireless2200BG (Centrino) chipset and was just about to try Vodafone Mobile Connect Lite v188.8.131.52 instead when I stumbled across a comment on a blog post that suggested installing VMC without the optimisation software – that seemed to resolve the issue and allowed me to use the WLAN connection with the VMC software installed.
I still couldn’t get a data connection; however that problem turned out to be a little more basic – swapping SIMs with my mobile handset confirmed that the new SIM that Vodafone had supplied with the data card was not activated (despite the shipping note stating that it was). A quick call to Vodafone this morning resolved that particular issue and I now have a working 3G connection (seamlessly dropping back to GPRS as required).