BSNL GPRS on Ubuntu 9.10

As I travel frequently  in connection with my official and no-official engagement, my internet presence is disrupted. I have tons on mails and rss feed entries to be read after each journey. I was thinking of buying a netbook.
I recently bought a Toshiba NB200 netbook at a discount rate from my cousin. It came with 160 GB hard disk 1GB RAM, intel atom processor and Windows XP was pre-installed.
The first thing I did with the netbook was to remove windows. I installed ubuntu netbook remix 9.10, All the hardware except sound was instanly recognised by ubuntu. My next task was to  make it internet ready. I looked for various solutions like evdo from BSNL , netconnect from reliance etc. They all looked costly.
Finally I decided to go in for GPRS connection from BSNL. I  am already an unlucky owner of Nokia N72 , which is recognised only from windows. Fortunately the GPRS modem on N72 is accessible from linux . Here is what I did with my BSNL prepaid  phone connection to get it ready for my net book.

1) Enable GPRS on the phone

The GPRS can be enabled on BSNL connections by sending an SMS to  53733 with the following  word.  GPRSPRE. (I use a prepaid connection). They charge heavily    for GPRS usage 10 paise per KB.  However, they have some schemes which provide unlimited Internet access.
If you are a sporadic traveller, unlimited gprs access  for one day can be availed at Rs.20. For ardent travellers, an unlimited connection for one month can be subscribed at Rs 230. For availing the special schemes, you have to send sms to 53733 with the word GPRS20 (or GPRS230). You need a minimum balance of Rs 75 in your prepaid account for availing GPRS20. Once you send the sms,BSNL will ask you to confirm the scheme by sending another sms with GPRS20Y to 53733. (Sometimes it takes an hour or so  to get back the sms asking for confirmation. Being an Indian, you have to be patient.)

2) Configuring the Modem.

This was rather easy as my N72 GPRS modem was recognised as soon as I plugged the data cable.
I verified its presence  by looking at dmesg output on a terminal.

I installed wvdial from the ubuntu repository .

$ sudo apt-get install wvdial

Next, I ran the following command.

$ sudo wvdialconf

It created a minimal configuration file for wvdial  /etc/wvdial.conf.

/etc/wvdial.conf was then edited as shown below.

[Dialer Defaults]
Init1 = ATZ
Init2 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0
Modem Type = USB Modem
Modem = /dev/ttyACM0
Baud = 115200
Dial Command = ATD
Phone = *99***1#
Username =9194461xxxxx
Password =9194461xxxxx
New PPPD = yes
Stupid Mode =yes

Use your phone number as username and password. I entered the phone number including the country code as shown above. Also look at the Init3 entry. If you are in south India, you can use the above line. For other regions look at this page.

Now you can access internet by dialling out using wvdial.

$ sudo wvdial

The internet speed is reasonable.

I am posting this from Venad Express on my way back from Model Engineering college where I delivered a lecture  on free software. The netbook was really handy for the presentation too.


  1. I have one N72 nad planning to buy one netbook soon. Your guidelines are fantastic!!!

  2. sir, I am not using phone as a modem i am using Analogics gprs modem, model number:AM 501. How to access internet by using modem in ubuntu 9.10. plz help me. I connected modem to pc.

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