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hailvodka
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎05-16-2008
Location: Cebu, Philippines
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Can we upgrade our X300 6478-1TU with open-line 3G/HSPDA modem?

I bought a Lenovo Thinkpad x300 (6478-1TU) in US and want to upgrade it with an embedded Sierra Wireless MC8775 PCI Express Mini Card specified in Lenovo's Hardware Manual which is compatible with the 3G GSM service provider system where I am based, in the Philippines.
 
I emailed Sierra Wireless to purchase this product but this is their reply:
 
Thank you for your inquiry.  Please note that our MC PCI express line of mini cards are embedded modules that are only available for integration into hardware applications, they are not available for end user purchases.  The MC cards we offer are not finished products, therefore cannot be put into regular PCI card slots.

In addition, all embedded slots on Laptops have a proprietary BIOS and cannot be re-provisioned by consumer, thus these would not work in your unit.  My suggestion is that you contact your Laptop manufacturer for alternate solutions.

This is very disappointing since I bought this laptop assuming the SIM Card slot by the battery can be used and just had to be upgraded by a 3G modem like the MC8775. I did not order the customized ones offered optional under Verizon or Cingular because these are locked to the respective providers only.

I am in the Philippines and want an open line modem for flexibility when travelling abroad. 

From the parts list:
http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/MIGR-69373.html

The location of the MC8775 (number 3) should be on the opposite side of the Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN (number 6) - Installation is back to back, I guess this is difficult to install but possible to do.

Is it true about the BIOS? Isnt there any BIOS upgrade or only a driver installation needed?

Can Lenovo assist us with this upgrade? I am willing to send my laptop to China, Siongapore or Hongkong or back to US if my laptop can have this embedded mini card. 

 

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bananaman
Posts: 3,635
Registered: ‎04-25-2008
Location: San Francisco
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Re: Can we upgrade our X300 6478-1TU with open-line 3G/HSPDA modem?

Based on what I've read in ThinkPad forums, the situation is the following:

Yes the BIOS will object if it finds a non-Lenovo WWAN card in the PCIe Mini slot. Some ThinkPad users have resorted to modifying the BIOS to get around this. Risky.

You can buy an MC8775 from Lenovo (as a spare part), or various Lenovo parts specialists. They also appear on eBay.

The Lenovo part numbers listed for the X300 are 42T0931 (Vodafone) or 42T0933 (Cingular/AT&T).

A Lenovo MC8775 can be unlocked.
I don't work for Lenovo. I'm a crazy volunteer!
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hailvodka
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎05-16-2008
Location: Cebu, Philippines
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Re: Can we upgrade our X300 6478-1TU with open-line 3G/HSPDA modem?

Thank you for your message. So if I order this FRU part (42T0931), install it to my x300, there wont be any problems with the BIOS anymore right? I will just have to unlock it to use it in my country...
 
Another question, the motherboard of my x300 64781TU has a PCI mini slot for the MC8775 right?
 
Just wanna be sure before I order this item...
 
Thanks again!
Community SuperMod
bananaman
Posts: 3,635
Registered: ‎04-25-2008
Location: San Francisco

Re: Can we upgrade our X300 6478-1TU with open-line 3G/HSPDA modem?

Lenovo has some awesome videos here which show you how to install parts. The hardware manual is also a very useful resource. The WWAN card is one of the easier to get at... but don't forget about the antenna! I have no idea what antenna is pre-installed in your system. If you remove the keyboard, as in the videos, you should see your WWAN slot and any pre-installed antenna. If there is a WWAN antenna there, you are golden. It is possible to retrofit an antenna, but it is tricky. The LCD disassembly/reassembly video shows it.

The only guaranteed way to get WWAN would be to find a way to get Lenovo to do it. Doing it yourself, you take some risks. Your warranty becomes void. You may have problems with the installation. It may or may not work in the end.

Lastly, for everyone else reading this thread bananaman's WWAN rule:

If there is even just a tiny chance that you will ever use it, order your ThinkPad with WWAN factory-installed!

The incremental cost is only about +/-$100, depending on the model. In the current ThinkPad models, Retrofitting WWAN is not easy, not cheap, and risky.

That said, maybe someone out there who has actually done the retrofit can chime in with some advice...
I don't work for Lenovo. I'm a crazy volunteer!
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hailvodka
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎05-16-2008
Location: Cebu, Philippines
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Re: Can we upgrade our X300 6478-1TU with open-line 3G/HSPDA modem?

Bananaman, thank you again for your reply. I saw the videos already. I will try to check first if there's a pre-installed antenna. I have so many questions and really want to ask it all by phone before I order the PCI card from Lenovo. If it's ok with you may I have your mobile number? you can email it to me at dwardo@rocketmail.com or you can SMS me at +63-922-8787878. 
Community SuperMod
bananaman
Posts: 3,635
Registered: ‎04-25-2008
Location: San Francisco
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Re: Can we upgrade our X300 6478-1TU with open-line 3G/HSPDA modem?

Hi hailvodka, It is probably best for you to keep asking your questions on this forum, as I don't necessarily know the answers to all of them, and everyone can learn.

 

I see that Lenovo is has got the message about how hard it is to retrofit WWAN to some of their models, and are now shipping at least some of the new ones "WWAN-ready". For example all X200's have the antenna pre-wired, and all you have to do is add the WWAN card. Yay!

I don't work for Lenovo. I'm a crazy volunteer!
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navsau
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎09-15-2010
Location: Guadalajara, México.
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Re: Can we upgrade our X300 6478-1TU with open-line 3G/HSPDA modem?

Hello everyone, that's my first post n the forum.
I have a question to give fresh air to this threat. I will be direct:

I have a X300 6478-1HS. (I don't know the difference between 1HS and the 1TU from hailvodka) but I want add a Sierra Wireless MC8775 PCI Express MiniCard. My trouble starts here, I'm living now in México, and I'm planning using with carrier Telcel. Discussing with a specialist from the carrier, tell me, "this card operates in the allowed bands and technically its possible that will works in the carrier network, but don't find support about troubles with us."

I check my system, and verify that have PCI-E slot and the 2 screws for the card, 3 wires (white, red & blue) from the power and antennas (or I guess so, because are unconnected and my WLAN its working with another wires  ), and the SIM slot.


Well, in your opinion Bannanaman (as a volunteer), to do my task successfully, I think:

- Buy a (for example) ThinkPad 42T0933 IBM ORIGINAL LENOVO GENUINE THINKPAD LAPTOP NOTEBOOK CINGULAR CARD on the web.
- Insert in the PCI-E slot, put the screws, the wires. (fingers crossed)
- Use dc-unlocker.com
- After unlock the card, turn off the sys and insert the SIM in the SLOT.
- Maybe its a good idea, update the access connections to the lastest version, to "manage" the WWAN connection...

Opinions or Suggestions?
Greetings and thanks for your help & support!

Community SuperMod
bananaman
Posts: 3,635
Registered: ‎04-25-2008
Location: San Francisco
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Re: Can we upgrade our X300 6478-1TU with open-line 3G/HSPDA modem?

Hi navsau, and welcome to the Lenovo User Community!

 

Sounds like you have done your homework! Yes that should work.

 

BillBolton mentioned the MC8775 frequency bands recently. Make sure that works with your carrier.

 

You don't have to use Access Connections. It's a lot of overhead if you have a simple setup. You can use Windows on its own, the Sierra Wireless utility, or perhaps the utility which you carrier provides.

 

Hope this helps!

I don't work for Lenovo. I'm a crazy volunteer!
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navsau
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎09-15-2010
Location: Guadalajara, México.
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Re: Can we upgrade our X300 6478-1TU with open-line 3G/HSPDA modem?

[ Edited ]

Hahaha thanks for your reply Bananaman, believe it, I'm reading reading and reading, because I want do, the right things with my money and time. Talking with the carrier's specialist, told me that this WWAN card working perfectly in the carrier's telcel in México.

 

Another volunteer suggest me buy FRU #42T0931(he said that it is a Lenovo-branded unlocked MC8775). If its true, it will install and run in your X300 without making any software or hardware modifications to either the card or the X300, and the card will accept any SIM card, right? Its a best option or take my fist plan? What do you think?

 

Thanks for you help and support!

Greetings.

 

 

Community SuperMod
bananaman
Posts: 3,635
Registered: ‎04-25-2008
Location: San Francisco
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Re: Can we upgrade our X300 6478-1TU with open-line 3G/HSPDA modem?

In theory that should work, but obviously I can't make any guarantees about the performance of an eBay seller! Your call.

I don't work for Lenovo. I'm a crazy volunteer!