Recently, I applied for an airtel broadband connection. Everything went really fast and smooth till the technician came home to setup the modem for broadband. I had opted for the free wi-fi modem from Airtel and the one they provided me was Binatone 850w. Surprisingly, this modem that came with Airtel had a firmware locked to Airtel!. I had two issues with this setup
- Max you can connect only 4 wireless devices. If you have two laptops and two phones at home, that itself occupies all the 4 slots. If you have a tab or if your friends or relatives visit your place, they won’t be able to connect their devices to your modem using wifi till you knock out one of the earlier registered devices and then register the new device. This seriously, is a PIA!!!.
- The Airtel technician who came for setting up the modem had no clue on how to how to configure Android phones for connecting to WiFi. According to him, the phones would just connect automatically which was absolutely wrong. I was able to connect successfully using the same authentication settings as what my laptop showed (Network Manager in Unbuntu shows the connection information). But the problem with that was that, if I go out of wireless range and then come back again, the phone was not auto connecting to WiFi. In fact, all the steps for configuring Phone is mentioned on the Airtel website itself (ftp://220.127.116.11/cas%20installation/samsung%20smart%20phone/Samsung%20smartphones%20-WPA2-Ent.doc). Though the doc is for Samsung, it applies to any android phone. Similar doc is available for Nokia phones also on their website. Technicians are not aware of any of these!
Searching on the internet for an unlocked firmware for this device didn’t give much results. I think the 850w is a new modem replacing the old 845w which Airtel was providing earlier. I sent a mail to Airtel customer care detailing the problem that I am facing and also at the same time, I contacted the guys at Binatone for an unlocked firmware. In the mean time, I searched the entire Airtel website (ftp://18.104.22.168/) for anything that could help me here. I noticed that ftp://22.214.171.124/new%20folder/dt850w-a6.004%20wifi%20new/ had two directories. – 850_hide and 850_No hide. All you have to do is, download the firmware (filename – ras) inside the “No hide” directory and use that firmware with the 850w router. The stock firmware that came with the modem wouldn’t allow you to change the Wireless Authentication – all that would be greyed out (Unchangeable). This firmware inside the No Hide directory would unlock all that and you can configure the modem with WPA2-PSK with AES which is what I did. No more limitation on number of devices and phone is also happy. The Binatone 850w also has mulltiple SSIDs.
Folks at Binatone did give me a firmware, but unfortunately that didn’t work for me. Later I got call from Airtel customer care regarding my query. As usual, the first level guys that you get to talk to initially know nothing about all these. I had to escalate the call to talk to someone from the technical team and they said they can’t increase the limit of only 4 devices. If I can provide them my internet IP, they said they will login from there and change the firmware to unlock the settings which I had already done.
I am also attaching the unlocked firmware here in case Airtel decide to remove that from their website later 🙂 You can get it here – dt850w-a1.006.ras
Airtel seem to be implementing this Enterprise Authentication based on telecom regulations
In that case, they should allow the users to request for increasing the number of wireless devices that can be registered on their portal. In fact, docs on their site says that subscribers can ask for increase – ftp://126.96.36.199/Utilities%20CD/CAS%20Config%20&%20FAQ/Airtel%20Wi-Fi%20CASMasterTrainers%20FOR%20UTILITY.ppt on PAGE 38, says
A master can create up to 3 child accounts
This limit can be changed by the administrators on a per subscriber basis.
Calls/Emails to Airtel asking for increase on this was not really helpful. As per them, they can’t increase this limit of 4 devices. If someone asks for increase, they will provide the unlocked firmware!. Nice way of implementing telecom regulations, isn’t it? 🙂
Hope this helps!