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ED#139 : How To Unlock Huawei 3G Modems
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ED#139 : How To Unlock Huawei 3G Modems

Here in Malaysia, we are quite fortunate because our service providers are not allowed to lock any mobile phone (whether subsidized or otherwise) to their network. However, it appears that this ban only extends to mobile phones and not modems that they provide to their mobile broadband customers. Yes, the 3G modem that you are using to access mobile broadband is almost certainly locked to its original network.

This is really odd because most mobile broadband user are "forced" to purchase a modem with every subscription. This can sometimes be subsidized via a rebate over a certain number of months, or not, if you are expected to pay for it upfront. For example, both Maxis and DiGi charge an "activation fee" or "registration fee" of RM 100, which is really the cost of the Huawei 3G modem they provide with every subscription. So it really boggles me why they would bother to lock the modems to their own networks.

From the user's perspective though, it makes sense to "reuse" a 3G modem. Not only is it environmentally-friendly, it may help you save some money if the new service provider allows you to sign up without buying a new modem from them. In some cases, you might even want to use the older modem because it's faster or better in some way. For example, my first modem was from Maxis - a Huawei E1762, which is actually faster and better than the new Huawei E153 modem that I recently purchased from DiGi.

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So after discontinuing my Maxis mobile broadband account, I decided to "reuse" the Huawei E1762 modem for my DiGi Broadband account. All I needed to do was pull out the old Maxis SIM card and insert the DiGi SIM card. The modem will automatically load the Maxis-branded dial-up software but this isn't a problem as it can be used to dial-up the DiGi network. In fact, you can also use the DiGi dial-up software to connect the same modem to the Maxis network.

Of course, that's supposed to be the case. The reality is the Huawei E1762 modem was locked to the Maxis network. So this error message will pop-up if a non-Maxis SIM card is installed :

At first glance, one may think that the software is asking for the PUK (PIN Unlocked Key) code. Entering the PUK code won't do anything more than reduce the number of attempts by 1 everytime you try. Please be careful as this is a hard limit. If you enter the wrong code 10 times, it locks the modem permanently from what I understand, and you won't have the opportunity to unlock it even if you figure out how.

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So how do you unlock a Huawei 3G modem? It's pretty simple, actually. All you really need is the modem's IMEI number, which is a 15-digit unique identifying code for your modem. It is usually printed somewhere on the modem, either on a label on the modem or near the SIM card slot inside the modem. Once you locate the modem's IMEI number, record it down.

Now, it's time to look for a website to generate your modem's unlock code, which is based on your modem's IMEI number. There are actually a number of websites that offer such a service, like and WinTechMobiles. All you need to do is key in your modem's IMEI number and they will generate your modem's unique 8-digit unlock code. Then all you have to do is key in the unlock code and the modem will accept the new SIM card and allow you to connect to the new network. Yes, it's that easy! :)

Please note that they will also give you a flash code. This is used if you intend to upgrade the modem's firmware.

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