SMS and MMS with the Huawei E160 USB Modem

Posted by on Oct 5, 2009 in Support Blog

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The Huawei E160 is an “ok” modem to use with NowSMS to send and receive SMS and MMS messages.

This modem is readily available in many countries, as many mobile operators sell this modem as part of a mobile broadband package. (In the UK alone, we’ve seen this modem offered by 3, O2 and T-Mobile. Unlocked versions of this modem are avaialable from multiple web sites.)

Unfortunately, this modem has been one of the most difficult and frustrating modems for us to test. We tried two different E160 modems on at least four different computers, and were consistently frustrated with how unreliable this modem was. The most frequent problem was that after a couple of hours, the modem would become unresponsive, and NowSMS would be unable to communicate with the modem.

Because of this problem, we actually added a configuration option in the 2009.10.21 release of NowSMS to allow NowSMS to reboot the PC as a “last resort” effort to try to recover a non-responsive modem.

However, just when we were about to give up on the E160, we stumbled upon a solution to its reliability problems.

The E160 is bundled with some associated software called “Mobile Partner”. The modem lock-up problems do not seem to occur if the “Mobile Partner” software is active along with NowSMS.

There is an important consideration that the Mobile Partner software, by default, will try to process received SMS messages, and may remove these messages from the modem before NowSMS is able to process them. To correct this problem, it is very important that the Huawei Mobile Partner software be configured not to remove received SMS messages from the SIM card. From within Mobile Partner, select Tools/Options/Text Message and ensure that “New Message Save Mode” is set to “Save on SIM/USIM card or device”.

To address the reliability problems, it is also recommended that the Huawei Mobile Partner software be configured to automatically load on startup. From within Mobile Partner, select Tools/Options/General, and ensure that “Launch on Windows startup” and “Minimize window on startup” are checked.

Note that if your system is restarted, NowSMS runs as a service and will automatically be started without requiring a user to be logged in. However, the Mobile Partner software will not load until a user logs in to the PC. The fact that NowSMS is running without Mobile Partner may cause some reliability problems. One way to address this issue for a system that is to run unattended is to configure the PC to login to an account automatically when it is restarted. This can be done by going to the Windows Start Menu, selecting the “Run” option, and typing “control userpasswords2”. Uncheck the option that says “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer, and then when you press OK, you will specify the user name and password that should be used for an automatic login.

The inconvenience of requiring the Mobile Partner software to be active when running NowSMS makes us hesitant to strongly recommend this modem. It works ok, and it does have the benefit of supporting SMS delivery receipts.

For alternative modems, please see our other reviews: http://www.nowsms.com/tag/gsm-modem

For general information on configuring NowSMS to send and receive SMS and MMS messages with a GSM modem, such as the Huawei E160, please see the NowSMS Quick Start Guide athttp://www.nowsms.com/doc/quick-start-guide.

One additional note of interest for users of Huawei modems … updated firmware and drivers for Huawei modems can be found at the following page: http://www.huawei.com/mobileweb/en/doc/list.do?type=-1&id=5286

A software update for the E160G is available via the E160 link on that page, or http://www.huawei.com/mobileweb/en/doc/list.do?type=-1&id=5840

Note that if you update the modem firmware, this also updates the version of the Mobile Partner software accessible via the USB drive of the modem. After updating the firmware, you should remove Mobile Partner from your system, and then re-install the new version from the modem’s USB drive.

Frequencies supported by the Huawei E160:

  • 3G/UMTS/HSDPA – 850Mhz/1900Mhz/2100Mhz (Good for most of the world, plus AT&T USA)
  • EDGE/GPRS – 850Mhz/900Mhz/1800Mhz/1900Mhz (Global)
  • HSDPA Max Performance: Download speed – 3.6 Mbps; Upload speed – 384 Kbps (no HSUPA support)
  • EDGE/GPRS Max Performance: Not specified

NowSMS Support Summary: Supports sending and receiving both SMS and MMS messages. Does not supports “Direct to Modem” (“Default” mode can be used).
SMS Delivery Receipts are supported.

The Huawei E160 modem does have support for connecting an external antenna to enhance the strength of its internal antenna.

For comments and further discussion, please click here to visit the NowSMS Technical Forums (Discussion Board)...