Friday 15 September 2017


We've used Three's mobile broadband very successfully since we bought Erin Mae, together with a mobile broadband router from ZoomTel.

This creates a WiFi hotspot for connecting computers, phone, iPad, etc, and links to the internet via a dongle which can also be connected directly to the computer if need be.

It's the one on the right, a Huawei E3256. Brilliant little 3G device, with a folding USB plug so you don't need a cap, among other advantages. Normally it nestles in the boat licence holder in Erin Mae's window, attached by a cable to the Zoom.

Until a few weeks ago, when it accidentally got washed along with a pair of shorts. Condition was terminal, I'm afraid. The dongle was an ex-dongle. The SIM card inside, however (and amazingly), survived the wet, warm, detergent-laden washing cycle – I just didn't have a working device to use it with. So I checked on the Three website, saw which dongle they are currently selling for mobile broadband users, and found one on eBay – a ZTE MF730F, pictured on the left. Supposed to be slightly better technology than the Huawei but, annoyingly, with a cap and a fixed USB plug. It seems nobody is making rotating plugs any more.

Well, the ZTE worked fine when connected directly to my computer, but the Zoom went into a sulk and completely refused to talk to it. Unfortunately we didn't discover this until we were back on Erin Mae last weekend. The immediate result was that my best beloved was dropped into an internet-free existence – her devices all connect via the Zoom. I checked ZoomTel's website, and found that this particular ZTE is not listed among the zillion that are supported, and their support department confirmed that, if it's not on the list, there's no way to get it working.

So it was back onto eBay and, wonder of wonders, there was a second-hand E3256 going for £7, including postage. It certainly wasn't there when I first checked some weeks ago. So we got it sent to some friends at Fazeley, where we are holed up for the weekend. It arrived yesterday, I inserted the SIM card, connected it to the Zoom, and my best beloved's enforced fast has come to an end.

I'll just have to be extra careful the next time we've been out and about and I want to wash my trousers. And anyone want a ZTE MF730F, going cheap?


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