ThinkPad mobile internet

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Many Lenovo ThinkPads come with a mobile broadband modem. By inserting a SIM card into the modem, it is possible to use a cellular network to connect to the internet.

Requirements

The broadband modems in newer ThinkPads use the QMI modem protocol---see this article for more information. These modems will show up as /dev/cdc-wdm on the filesystem.

It is not yet (September 2014) possible to initialize a QMI modem for use on Linux. Use Windows to activate the modem using Lenovo's activation app (or web search for "Lenovo mobile broadband" for the correct app for your modem). The modem will not work until it has been correctly initialized using the app.

Procedure

Install the libqmi package available in the official repositories, which provides the qmicli and qmi-network programs. Also install net-tools, which provides the ifconfig command.

There is a helper script for qmi-network available on GitHub. Save the script to somewhere in your $PATH and make it executable, and then review the script. The values of some of the variables might need to be changed, especially WWAN_DEV.

Load the kernel modules qmi_wwan and qcserial:

$ modprobe qmi_wwan
$ modprobe qcserial

Also read the readme on the GitHub page of the QMI helper for any further prerequisites. In particular, you may need to set the APN provided by your cellular internet provider in /etc/qmi-network.conf.

/etc/qmi-network.conf
APN=foo.bar.net

Finally, running qmi_setup.sh start should start the cellular internet connection.

Troubleshooting

  • Ensure that you have initialized the modem on Windows.

See also