I have been running a Novatel Merlin XU870 Wireless card with my MacBook Pro for some 5 months now and it is a great way to connect to the net at decent speeds (400 to 700kps on average, at times faster) anywhere inside you providers area of service, which for me is most of the Perth’s extended metro area including the 30 minute plus bus ride to work.
It has been so good and reliable I ditched my old dialup connection and have not been tempted to get a fixed broadband connection. Sure I have limited bandwidth 1 Gb (in both directions) a month on my plan, but I have not had any problems plus I can supplement it with my phone’s bandwidth.
The main problem has been Apple’ insistence that you use their dodgy WWAN support and this is packaged in both the 10.4.9 and 10.4.10 updates, which is good if you use your XU870 card to connect to the cingular network in the US and bad for everybody else because it stops the card from functioning.
This is fixed by removing all WWAN files from your systems folder and rebooting. You need to delete the following files:
- /Library/Modem Scripts/WWAN Support
- /System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/WWAN.menu
- /System/Library/Extensions/IOSerialFamily.kext/Contents/PlugIns/ AppleWWANSupport.kext
- /System/Library/Extensions/IOSerialFamily.kext/Contents/PlugIns/ AppleWWANVerizon.kext
You can even use the card to connect any virtual machine running under Parallels. This is because Parallels lets you assign the Express card slot on my MacBook Pro as if it was a USB device. Which is now the cause of my current problem.
I was checking the Three site yesterday and found that I could improve the theoretical speed on the card from 1.8Mbps to 3.6Mbps by upgrading the card’s firmware. So I download the firmware, which of course is PC only, fired up XP under Parallels and followed the instructions to the letter, only for XP to crash halfway through the process, with a USB debug error displaying and a wireless card that no longer functions (posting via Dopod as modem).
So if you have Novatel Merlin XU870 Wireless card, a MacBoook and use Three I strongly recommend that you do not try to upgrade the card’s firmware through Parallels but find somebody with a Windows laptop and use that.
Hoping that I can recover the card, by upgrading the firmware on a Windows laptop, I will let you now what happens.