Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Swisscom 3G LTE Backup Internet connection with the Fibre Route

To briefly winge,  Marcus and Agata have had an Intermittently faulty fibre Internet connection since July 2014.

Despite multiple attempts for resolution (mostly by Marcus and not Swisscom) a problem is still outstanding.

So we have been researching the use of an alternative or certainly Backup Internet connection using a mobile phone SIM.

This Post shows you how to get this working with the White Swisscom Fibre Router

Before You Begin
This procedure works with the above white square Swisscom fibre router only!

I bought the Huawei E3276 Router because it is explicitly mentioned in this Swisscom link

You can insert a mobile data stick (with the relevant subscription) into the 3G/LTE port on the Internet Box. Should your fibre-glass connection not be available, for example if a digger has damaged the cable, the Internet Box will automatically connect to the mobile network. This switch to the mobile network currently works with the following commercially available mobile data sticks: Huawai E303 for 3G and Huawei E3276 for 3G/LTE. Before use, make sure that the PIN of the SIM card has been switched off (on, for example, a mobile telephone).

Note the more capable Huawei E5372 router  does not work. 

Getting It working
Basically it's just plug in and pray.  They are no settings to adjust on the Swisscom router.

(click on photos to enlarge as usual)
 Before plug in

 Plugged in
 Starting to configure

Looks like it is working, but it is not.   With the Orange 4G SIM  the device supplies the wrong APN to Orange and so whilst DNS enquiries work, no data can be retrieved.

So Orange 4G SIM is removed and the Lebara 4G SIM is inserted into the device which is then replugged into the fibre router.

With the Lebara SIM we have a valid  (HSPA) connection because the APN seems to be ignored

Note: This is my current Swisscom firmware level and it is the latest.  Here is the Swisscom download page

No 4G connection
Whilst the Huawei E3276 is supposed to be a fast 4G capable router I did not yet manage to ever get a 4G connection either via connection to the PC directly or to the Swisscom fibre router.

What Does not work
Initially I tried using a Huawei E5372 4G router (with an Orange SIM).   This does not work at all.  The Fibre Web Interface will show  /Unknown Device/ on the Summary screen.

Placing the Orange 4G SIM into my Huawei  E3276 router did not work either.  Reason?  The unlocked E3276 that I purchased has a default carrier and APN that's incompatible with Orange. 

When you Plug that combination into the Fibre router makes no attempt to set an APN  so when the SIM powers up its talking the wrong APN to the mobile network.  So your connection does not work

(For the Lebara SIM which works, seems Lebara network ignores the APN sent to it)

Other ConnectionsI'm also investigating other options including a 4G connection plugged directly into a compatible router or into a Hardware firewall's 3G failover socket.  However currently nothing works 100% and if I can craft an alternative I will of course post it here.

Summary and What DID work

  • Plugging in the Huawei E3276 with a Lebara SIM created a valid backup Internet connection
  • When the fibre was disconnected as a test, Internet was still accessible downstream in the normal way.   Downstream to us means thru our firewalls and routers.  And we tested VOIP and Internet Access.
  • To repeat,  the transition to Backup Internet worked fine and is reflected on the Web Gui of the Router
  • But because it provides a relatively weakly powered 3G datastream on an expensive carrier  (for bulk data, Lebara) this is not a working solution.

eBay E3276 router
Swisscom firmware download
Huawei E3276 specs