Switching Huawei E3131 Hilink to modem mode

Latest Huawei 3G/4G modems come with firmware that implements a feature Huawei calls “HiLink“, transforming the classical PPP dial-up connection to an always-on wireless broadband.

This feature is highly useful on Windows operating systems, but will add an extra level of complexity to using the modem on Linux or in a 3G/4G capable router.

To complicate matters even more, the classical AT^U2DIAG command to disable certain features doesn’t work on (some of) these new modems, like the E3131 I had to deal with. Fortunately, a workaround exists (for now).

  1. To switch an E3131 to modem mode (and disable Hilink), start by connecting it to a computer (Windows will be required to simplify the procedure) and install its driver (and bundled software). When done, check that the necessary device drivers are installed correctly.huawei-modem-1
  2. From the above list you’ll need to remember the COM port number for the 3G PC UI Interface (in my case COM12)
  3. Start your favourite terminal program (I prefer PuTTY) and connect it to the COM port listed abovehuawei-modem-2
  4. Once connected type in AT – if everything works the modem will answer back with OK. The modem might also periodically output some debug information which is safe to ignore.huawei-modem-3
  5. Use the AT^SETPORT command to find the current configuration mode or set a new one. Note down the current mode to be able to return to Hilink / defaults later.huawei-modem-4AT^SETPORT?  – will display the current mode
    AT^SETPORT=? – will display available modes
    AT^SETPORT="A1,A2;1,2,3"  – will set modem only
    AT^SETPORT="A1,A2;1,16,3,2,A1,A2" – will set a different mode (this is my modem’s default mode)
  6. Unplug and re-plug the modem for the change to take effect. Your system will re-detect the device and reinstall the drivers. You can now use it as a proper modem (PPP).

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