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Sierra Wireless MC8700


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Another WWAN card which is easy to setup under Mavericks


Sierra MC8700 3G GSM HSPA+ MINI PCI-E Card,  it is a little bit pricy comparing with HUAWEI EM820U.  I got an used one from eBay for $29.99  (http://www.ebay.com/itm/321292587625?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649)




I tape pin 20 and tested it on Thinkpad T410 with Mavericks 10.9.2,  it is immediately recognized as WWAN device (also an USB device) without patching  CellPhoneHelper.kext!!!



I can see that Mavericks supports MC8700 from Kernel itself without any InterfaceDriver(check the line for "Modem Software", it needs one of these:  AppleUSBCDC, AppleUSBCDCACMData, AppleWWANSupport1, AppleWWANSupport2 for other brand of WWAN card, but not MC8700)


I can go ahead to show WWAN on top menu bar and be able to connect to T-Mobile:






I still like to use vendor's  software to start my 3G connection.  For Sierra, there is software called AirCard Watcher,  but it is not available to be download and maintained by Sierra Inc directly,  but by Sierra's biggest OEM vendor NETGEAR,

I can find a few different versions of AirCard Watcher

B2924_Watcher_Generic.dmg (Mac)  is the latest and supports Mavericks


After I download and install it on Mavericks,  it changed MC8700 driver from Mavericks Internal to Vendor's drivers,  in S/L/E I found all these related drivers:


It also changed USB and WWAN device information for MC8700:





Notice there is BSD name "en3" for MC8700 USB device,  The vendor driver make it as a Network device directly.



Now I can use AirCard Watcher to connect 3G HSPA+ and read my account setup message from SIM card:





Among all 3G cards I owned, this is the first one supported by Mavericks as WWAN card without patching,  and works with the least efforts.

Vendors software choose the fast connection channel (HSPA+) from ISP.  also the best from Sierra Wireless Inc.  it has Linux drivers as open source code from the web site.  So if you have MAC OSX, Linux and Windows all 3 OS on one laptop,   MC8700 might be the best choice for working across all 3 OS!

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I am looking for some inexpensive 4g/LTE cards.  but still high price no matter for my own research purpose or practical use for others.  So far, 3G HSPA+ is the best (performance/price ratio) choice for most users

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The second issue is technical one - All 4G/LTE needs 4G antenna which has 3 connectors.  None of Lenovo Thinkpad models up to X220, T420 has that kind of antenna.  From Lenovo x230, T430 to the latest models, Lenovo put a security EPROM (shouldering on motherboard) to validate BIOS check-sum.   So there is no more None-White-List bios can be used for any new Thinkpad laptop which shipped with 4G antenna.
So even I get a 4G/LTE mini PCIe card and one latest model Thinkpad laptop - there is no way to make them work together.  bump here by Lenovo hard-coded FCC regulation checking routine.

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BIOS i am not so worried about.. for the x201 we have a patched bios to whitelist that.. it will be quite slow to get past bios but the card will work.
The x201s only comes with one antenna for WWAN, so i have wired in an antenna mine manually... adding one more shouldent be the biggest problem :-)

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Actually I already keep my eyes on Sierra Wireless AirPrime MC7710 and Huawei ME909u-521 for a while, The price is above $150.   Both have vendor software for Mavericks (Huaiwei Mobile Partner  and Sierra AirCard Watcher)

It does not matter how Mavericks supports those WWAN card internally,   after installation of vendor software,  connecting to 4G/LTE should not be a problem.


After a couple of years, those cards' price will drop to $50 :-P . (just like Intel CPU, 2/3 price off 3 year after release)

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When i try to connect i get:

Wed Jun 18 22:51:12 2014 : publish_entry SCDSet() failed: Success!

Wed Jun 18 22:51:12 2014 : publish_entry SCDSet() failed: Success!

Wed Jun 18 22:51:13 2014 : Initializing phone: ATE0V1&F&D2&C1S0=0

Wed Jun 18 22:51:13 2014 : Initializing PDP context: AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","internet.telenor.se"

Wed Jun 18 22:51:13 2014 : Dialing: ATD*99***1#

Wed Jun 18 22:51:13 2014 : Waiting for connection

Wed Jun 18 22:51:13 2014 : No carrier.

Wed Jun 18 22:51:13 2014 : CCLExit: -6021 (No carrier.)

Wed Jun 18 22:51:13 2014 : Connect script failed


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