Taiwan TaKeDa and Mobile Data Access

This is how I spent a week-end without having much fun: Making Taiwan TaKeDa mobile Network APN work on an unbranded Dumbphone!

Opted for a data plan. Got even a call that it had been activated on August 1st after lunchtime. Of course, didn’t work: Got a “wrong APN settings” error message. Went to one of their shops. They concluded my mobile (a HTC one plus, obtained from SingTel as a “free” gift to our communication package there in 2012) had a problem. So went home again and finally found an excuse to transplant the working mainboard from a HTC Sensation XE (but a broken screen) to a HTC sensation XE with a working screen (but a broken mainboard). Sometimes it makes sense when you and your TaiTai have the same models of hand phone, this really may save you money if you are able to perform micro surgery on micro electronics! The two phones had been bought without contract in Taiwan some years ago. Finally, I got another perfectly working Dumbphone, but still the mobile network still would not work.

Went to the shop again today. With the 2 Smartphones and some ideas for tests. The nice girl there listened to my story and after testing my SIM card in her mobile, she concluded that my two mobiles had a problem, too. My hypothesis that their system must have some flaws (maybe just an incorrectly performed activation) was vehemently denied (probably they are a franchise and have to pay for core services when it turns out the customer is the problem, so the customer is the problem and maybe you can sell him a new mobile…).

Went home to fetch our “Amazing A5s”, which we had got from them for extending my contract here recently, branded by Taiwan Mobile and looking soo fragile that you really might wonder if it would survive a decent hike or river trace when stowed away in your backpack (so I even didn’t bother to set it up and just kept it for emergencey). We couldn’t test it before as this phone reqiures a microSIM. (Now we have a free microSIM with adaptor. The only benefit from wasting almost a week-end’s worth of time and energy…).

The A5s of course immediately worked like a charm. No clues why, except “your phones are too old”. “Reasons” like these are driving me mad. Both mobiles even had been working with mobile networks before.

Exactly the right time to find out about the differences in the APN setting between the branded phone and mines.

A5s:
One entry in the APN list, named “internet” with “internet” as APN name.

HTC oneplus and HTC sensation XE:
3 entries,
“twm” with the APN name “twm” on top of the list and with a checked checkbox
“internet” with “internet” APN name (no other checkbox)
“MMS” as third option” (no checkbox either)

The Solution: So what would you want to do? Of course make “internet” the first option. As without finding and hacking some configuration files you won’t be able to switch the items, the easier way is to simply edit them (luckily that’s possible):

1) renamed “internet” to “internet2”
2) renamed “twm” to “internet”
3) changed the APN name “twm” and changed it into “internet”.

Haven’t touched the APN type which is still “default,hipri” in the first entry and “dun” in the second.

Conclusion: As the APN menu is only accessible when a SIM card has been inserted, the problem must be the interaction between this data set (which is most likely stored on the SIM card, as it contains operator specific information) and the operating system. As it works on a branded Phone, they (Taiwan Mobile) changed the standards, i.e. didn’t implement them properly when tampering with the firmware. Shouldn’t happen, but IMHO this is typical for Taiwan [1].

If this is helpful to you, you owe me a comment and maybe a coffee or beer, if you should be inclined!

[1] I could (I’m doing!) rant about lots more of this kind of issues, like company servers only cooperating with IE set to allow no security but refusing cooperation completely with Firefox and Thunderbird where SSL connections are enforced without exceptions, thus making me not able to access any SSL enforced website, the actual reason for me to buy a data plan. (I am running the probably only Notebook – my own Notebook – in the hopsital that is not using Windooze, but a Linux (Xubuntu) for cost and security reasons). Actually a reason to quit this job and look for a better one which I will do soon. An employee paying for work related internet access? HA-HA! How stupid am I actually? Have some personal reasons for that, but I am already counting my days. This is the first time in my life that I encountered this kind of connectivity problem. And the colleagues? They all use their personal mobiles for internet access (FB etc. which is blocked, too). Also a kind of Taiwanese Way.

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