I have been wishing that someone living in Riyadh shares what they experience in their daily life here. The wish is intense when I face problems unique to someone of my background- an expatriate, not very good in Arabic, living with his wife & kids (family means bigger than these 2 entities - and hence I mustn't say living with family :) ), leading a modest living, always aspiring to achieve better in all walks of his daily life.
Now coming back to point, I recently subscribed to mobily connect, the 3.5G internet connectivity solution from mobily. Let me briefly describe my experience hoping that it will be of help to someone in similar situation.
I subscribed it on 21Oct07. I was told, activation of the same will take from 3 minutes to 3 days by the mobily personnel who attended me in their Olaya Customer Service Center (Near Kingdom building). Anyway, I came home, connected the device to my Laptop (Toshiba Tecra A5 - somewhat an old model now, running WXP, 60GB HDD and 512MB RAM, 2.0 GHz Pentium) and everything went smooth except that when it was supposed to come up with a screen where there is the connect button, it waited there with message Detecting Data Card and finally after about 30 seconds gave the message Data card invalid. Promptly I called mobily customer service (1100, then 9?) and was told that it is not active yet. I tried the next day too with same result but this time I was advised that I go to any of the customer service locations. He scared me saying that it is going to take another 3 days after I go there. Anyway I went to their office, and a nice guy took me, connected my card to a Laptop available in the public area, and it started working right away. That gave me a start! That means, the card was ok and the problem could be something else.
This person, when I explained that it is not working on my laptop, spent sometime on it and finally told me that there is something wrong with my laptop. I can't agree more since he already demonstrated that it is working on the laptop there.
Next day, I tried the same on a desktop, and this time it worked right away. I was disappointed seeing that the speed is not what I thought it would be. Right, the connected icon shows connected @ 7.2 Mbps, but the mobily connect shows the current
transfer rate. Most of the time it was worse than a dial-up connection. Downloading a 50+ mb file started with speed of 10K per sec and went down to 3 and occasionally with even 0. This screen shows only current, top transfer rates. There should have been an average as well, that would help us compare against a dial-up/DSL. When the same file was tried through a 512K DSL, it showed a steady 50 KB/sec download rate.
Now that I was able to make it work on my desktop, I again tried on laptop with same result. I did a google search but didn't get any link of help. Then I tried the term "huawei E220" but still couldn't hit what I want. Finally I searched data card invalid and that worked. The 1st link gave me where should I try. If in case you are not able to see that page I have kept it here as the 1st comment on this post!
I too tried disabling the internal modem but that didn't do the trick. Un-installed the blue-solie blue tooth, again no result, then un-installed the mobily card and re-installed it. Not yet. Now what.
I then noticed that under Port (COM &LPT) in windows device manager (Control panel/System/Hardware tab and click device manager), there is an unrecognized device like Data Link or something. I clicked on it and choose to install the driver from the connected mobily connect card USB drive. Hooray! This time it worked. There was no 'invalid data card' message any more and I did this posting through this connection.
Something I knew only the other day: Through this connection, you can't access FTP sites. To say in plain words : Mobily is not supporting FTP protocol through this connectivity yet. Proof: When I tried accessing ftp, it didn't go through. Also check this page, the last paragraph! (This is no more the case. please see my comments towards the end of comments)
More update: Now you can share the mobily connect data card among how many?, 32 - Mr. Murphy, Chief Marketing Officer, Mobily, himself says! Some one needs to test this and the economics is to be known. See the press release(?) here or here. Few days back, I received promotional mail from Jarir exactly about such a router. What does all this mean? Does mobily/STC sells the data card alone? We only can guess. See the jarir promotional note.