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.
Newer Quectel modems (for example, the Quectel EM120R-GL on X13 Gen2 and X1C Gen9) can be set by ModemManager.
Then it can be set via CLI or GUI interface.
For example, on KDE Plasma:
In System Settings > Connections, click the plus sign in the lower right corner to create a new link, select Mobile Broadband > Create, follow the steps below:
Set up mobile broadband connection > any GSM device
Country > country_code
Provider > provider_name
Select your plan > My plan is not listed
APN > apn.number
QMI protocol modems
The broadband modems in older ThinkPads use the QMI modem protocol — see "an introduction to libqmi" by a ModemManager developer for more information. These modems will show up as
/dev/cdc-wdm on the filesystem.
It is not 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.
Install the package, which provides the
qmi-network programs. Also install for the helper script, which uses the
Said helper script for
qmi-network is available on GitHub. Save the script to somewhere in your
$PATH, then review the script and make it executable. The values of some of the variables might need to be changed, especially
WWAN_DEV which can be found via
ip a (device name start with
Load the kernel modules
# 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
qmi_setup.sh start should start the cellular internet connection.
This method is an alternative for some QMI modems.
First of all you need to make sure what model your modem is. Open your ThinkPad's backplate and look for an IC or FCC ID. For this example we are going to use GOBI2000 (IC: 2723A-GOBI2000, FCC ID: J9CGOBI2000-L)
Enable your modem device from you BIOS I/O settings.
Download the driver installer executable from https://support.lenovo.com/us/en/downloads/ds001302 and extract it with Wine. It will unpack the drivers to
~/.wine/drive_c/DRIVERS/WWANQL. The unpacker will prompt you to install the drivers automatically after unpacking, but if you need the installer again it is
GobiInstaller.msi in previously mentioned folder. The installer will in turn unpack the firmware images to
~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files\ \(x86\)/QUALCOMM/Images/Lenovo.
Now refer to the reference information on what firmware you want/need. Generally you are good to go with the Generic UMTS and Default Firmware (Forlders 6 an UMTS).
Install AUR. Now copy the 3 previous firmware files to
/lib/firmware/gobi (if the folder does not exist, create it). Insert your sim card to the port found under your battery pack and restart. Your modem should now show up in your network manager.
Getting around BIOS-level whitelist restrictions
In newer ThinkPad models, it is normally impossible to swap the LTE modem for a supported one due to BIOS-level restrictions ("whitelists" of allowed M.2 expansion cards) implemented in all modern Lenovo laptops. However, a method has been found to configure any Sierra Wireless EM73xx/EM74xx modem to "evade" the whitelist checks, so these modems can be used normally.
We will assume the model to be
Sierra Wireless EM7455 here.
Settings for Sierra Wireless EM7455
AT!CUSTOM="FASTENUMEN",0 AT command to disable the modem's USB fast enumeration feature. The modem will take a significantly longer time to appear on the USB bus and the firmware will "miss" the modem at boot time.
AT!CUSTOM="FASTENUMEN",2 to selectively enable USB fast enumeration for warm boots only. The modem will reappear faster on S3 resume but still evade the whitelist checks on regular boots and reboots (the mechanism of this effect is not fully clear to the author).
This comes with a downside: because the firmware does not "see" the modem, it will not export the WWAN rfkill but instead it will unconditionally assert the
W_DISABLE pin of the M.2 slot, forcing the modem into "airplane mode".
AT!PCOFFEN=2 AT command to configure the modem to ignore this pin.
Boot the laptop with the stock modem in place and WWAN card access enabled in BIOS setup.
Suspend the laptop (make sure it is configured to use S3).
Hot-swap the stock Fibocom modem with the Sierra Wireless one, then resume. Whitelists are not consulted at S3 resume.
Check that the modem is present on the USB bus:
<...> Bus 001 Device 004: ID 1199:9071 Sierra Wireless, Inc. <...>
Remember the VID (vendor ID) of the modem (
1199 in this example).
ModemManager.service if it is running.
Optionally, update the modem firmware with the
# cd /path/to/extracted/firmware # qmi-firmware-update -d 1199 -u *.cwe *.nvu
Change the modem's USB composition to enable AT command ports:
# qmicli -d /dev/cdc-wdm1 --dms-swi-set-usb-composition=8
Power-cycle the modem as advised by
# qmicli -d /dev/cdc-wdm1 --dms-set-operating-mode=offline # qmicli -d /dev/cdc-wdm1 --dms-set-operating-mode=reset
Wait for the modem to reappear, then verify:
# qmicli -d /dev/cdc-wdm1 --dms-swi-get-usb-composition
[/dev/cdc-wdm1] Successfully retrieved USB compositions: USB composition 6: DM, NMEA, AT, QMI [*] USB composition 8: DM, NMEA, AT, MBIM USB composition 9: MBIM
Verify that the three serial ports
/dev/ttyUSB2 are now available (assuming you do not have any other USB-serial converters plugged in):
# ls -l /dev/ttyUSB*
crw-rw---- 1 root uucp 188, 0 Feb 14 20:11 /dev/ttyUSB0 crw-rw---- 1 root uucp 188, 1 Feb 14 20:11 /dev/ttyUSB1 crw-rw---- 1 root uucp 188, 2 Feb 14 20:11 /dev/ttyUSB2
/dev/ttyUSB2 with a serial terminal emulator of your choice (e. g.
# screen /dev/ttyUSB2 115200
Enter the AT commands (note that you do not need to type
OK, the replies are included here as part of a session transcript):
Enable command echo (if echo is initially disabled, you will not see this command as you type it):
Unlock engineering commands:
Check customization options (these are the author's options):
AT!CUSTOM? !CUSTOM: GPSENABLE 0x01 GPSSEL 0x01 IPV6ENABLE 0x01 SIMLPM 0x01 SINGLEAPNSWITCH 0x01 OK
Configure USB fast enumeration (swap
0 if you want to play it safe):
Verify, it should now show the
FASTENUMEN option alongside others:
AT!CUSTOM? !CUSTOM: GPSENABLE 0x01 GPSSEL 0x01 IPV6ENABLE 0x01 SIMLPM 0x01 FASTENUMEN 0x02 SINGLEAPNSWITCH 0x01 OK
Configure the modem to ignore W_DISABLE:
AT!PCOFFEN? 2 OK
Reset the modem:
the terminal will disconnect after a while.
Wait for the modem to reappear, then verify configuration by rebooting / powering down / hard resetting the laptop.
You may also apply other useful configuration options described here.
Ensure that you have initialized the modem on Windows.
Install NetworkManager and to make your life easier finding the correct APN for your SIM card.
If you get an error
Invalid Transition when running
mmcli -m 0 -e, you have not yet activated the modem.