Unlocking a Huawei E270 mobile broadband modem

May 27th, 2009

Mobile broadband is great, and I bought one of the early Vodafone USB modems, a Huawei E270, when I first moved to Cambridge. My contract on this has now expired, and I’ve moved over to 3, who seem to have better coverage than Vodafone even if the network is more congested. Anyway, I thought I’d try and get the old Vodafone modem unlocked, because I can think of various circumstances in which it might be useful to have access to other networks.

So, I rang Vodafone. After speaking to several people, I went through to a lady who emailed me a Network Unlock Code (NUC). The code itself is just a string of numbers, but the email contained a phone number to ring to obtain unlocking software for the modem. I rang the number, spoke to another lady, who duly emailed me the software. This comes as a password-protected ZIP file, and needs to be opened on Windows. Having got the software, here’s what you need to do to make it work:

– plug the modem in
– run the Vodafone Mobile Connect Lite software to initialise the modem, but don’t connect to the network.
– close the software
– run the upgrade program
– enter the NUC code and press Unlock
– the program unlocks the modem

However, there’s a second catch. Vodafone Mobile Connect Lite won’t allow you to connect to a non-Vodafone network. For this you need other software that isn’t network specific. There are two options: MWConn a freeware tool intended for comms nerds, which shows you all the grubby innards of what’s going on, or Huawei’s own Mobile Partner software.

I went for the latter (I only found MWConn later, after I’d flashed the firmware). Here’s what to do:

– go to http://www.huawei.com/mobileweb/en/doc/list.do?type=-1&id=1720
– download the file called E270-WINMACB300D00SP02C03 (UTPS11. (Normal)
– rename it so it has a .zip extension
– open it and run the file inside
– if it doesn’t find the modem, close it, restart Vodafone Mobile Connect Lite, close it, reopen the upgrade software and try again
– the program will reflash the device’s firmware.
– when it’s finished, go to Control Panel – Add and Remove programs and uninstall Vodafone Mobile Connect Lite and any other Vodafone software you may have.
– unplug the modem and plug it back in again
– once Windows has re-scanned the modem you should get a new drive containing the Mobile Partner software – run AutoRun.exe if it doesn’t start automatically
– the new firmware is installed
– run Mobile Partner. You will need to enter new APN details for your new simcard (3 in my case) which are available here.

I now need to decide which SIM cards to acquire. I think I’ll get a Vodafone TopUp and Go one, because although they charge £15 per gigabyte (which is quite steep) there’s no time limit on it. O2’s PAYG service is time-limited: you pay £2 for 24 hours access (up to 500MB), £7.50 for 7 days access (up to 1GB) and £15 for 30 days access (up to 3GB). It also gets you into any The Cloud wifi hotspot (typically at motorway service stations, pubs and hotels) included in that price. The SIM cards seem to be pretty easy to acquire on eBay – I’ll let you know how I get on.

7 Responses to “Unlocking a Huawei E270 mobile broadband modem”

  1. nathan Says:

    how about O2?…its benn 3 weeks since i rangthem for the codes but still they havent got 1 they say…would it work for the E220 modem?..can you give me the number so that i could try it to the O2 modem that i have?..the codes i mean..cheers Godspeed

  2. Michael P-J Says:

    nathan: the network unlock code is specific to each device, so m ine won’t help you. Mike

  3. Malik Sally Says:

    Hi Nathan,

    It has details on how to unlock E220 Huawei Modem. I unlocked mine succesfully.
    I’m trying to unlock E160, E156 modems now…
    Good Luck!

  4. hey arno Says:

    I’m curious to know how you got on with getting a data sim card from Vodafone. I recently got a pay.go modem in Spain, and to activate the sim card, I had to remove the sim from the Huawei modem, put it in my phone, and send a text to VF to change from voice to data, as the sales guy told me. Had to do this each time to top up.
    Went to Vodafone UK today and they told me there is NO WAY I can get a sim only mobile broadband SIM…not even a regular sim that I can convert will work, they tell me. Got the VF modem in Spain specifically cause it was understood it would work in the UK, and now VFUK tells me the only way to get the data sim is to get a modem too. What is your experience? Curious….a

  5. Michael P-J Says:

    I bought a Vodafone mobile broadband SIM card on eBay, but haven’t used it yet because it needs an unlocked or Vodafone handset in order to register the SIM. But it should work…

  6. Mounir Says:

    Hi, Vodafone has given me the unlock code for my E270 and the telephone number to get the software.

    However, that number is always busy – I have been calling since 20 August! Just spoken with a Vodafone customer services rep and he suggested that I search on Google for the software! He also confirmed that the number I was given was correct but that he could not divert my call to that department!

  7. Mounir Says:


    Thank you very much for your help in getting my E270 modem unlocked. If only Vodafone were as helpful!

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