A Dongle Discovery

by James Whatley on 16th September 2009

I write this to you from somewhere in the Caribbean while I complete the fifth and final Lucozade Challenge. Yesterday, Ben wrote about one of his new favourite pieces of kit – the Mi-Fi.

Gratuitous Holiday Snap FTW

Gratuitous Holiday Snap FTW

The Mi-Fi, for those of you who missed Mr Smith’s write up, is a nifty little gadget that creates an instant wi-fi hotspot wherever you are. Unlocked out of the box, all you need is a data SIM and you’re away… However, the device/service that Ben is currently reviewing is the 3 service and it would seem that this particular device is locked to their network.


As I’ve mentioned before though, I don’t think that these super-connected wonders are for everyone. I personally always carry around a data dongle for my MacBook Pro and when that doesn’t work, I have the rather fantastic, Joikuspot.

Coming back to the dongle part of my story, I spent most of last weekend playing around with all the various pieces of mobile tech (as well as their respective SIM cards) that I thought I might take away with me for my next trip.

Crashing through the cupboards full of old 3310s and old school Nokia chargers I happened upon an old o2 dongle that I used to have to use in a previous life. The end was missing and it still had it’s old (and now defunct) o2 SIM inside it and yet, I had a sneaky feeling that it might still work.

So at this point, you could be thinking:

“Awesome, all I have to now is go out and get a cheap o2 data bundle and hurrah! We’re away!”

o2 or vodafone - which should it be?

o2 or vodafone - which should it be?

Not so fast.

Turns out that that isn’t necessary. It turns out that an o2 SIM isn’t needed at ALL in fact. You see, when Lucozade asked me what essential piece(s) of kit that I needed for the Energy Challenges, along with my N86, I requested a super-reliable Vodafone data SIM. Something that could keep me online and in touch, wherever I was in the world.

I popped said SIM into said dongle, placed the dongle into the side of my mac and voila! It worked immediately! I thought I might have to install some kind of Vodafone specific software or at least have to add in the necessary information, but nope. The Sierra Wireless Watcher that was already onboard the mac found the SIM, downloaded the settings and within seconds I was up, running and online.


I’d wondered for sometime now if the networks went so far as to lock their own dongles, I can’t speak for any others but I can tell you now that the o2 one works fine.

Give it a go, would love to know how you get on..

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