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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Connecting the iPad to the Internet in Egypt

(For techies only!)

OK, here goes this year's post about getting connected to the Internet.  

The past few years we connected via Etisalat's 3G service but response time got pretty sluggish last year so I decided to try Vodafone instead.  This also seemed like a good idea because there is a Vodfone store less than a half mile down the street.  So we headed out for a walk on our first full day here and stopped in.

I wanted two connections, of course.  One for the iPad and a USB "stick modem" for the laptop.  I took along the iPad and we took a number at the store.  After about fifteen minutes, my number was called and we were greeted by an employee I will call "Henry."  Henry was the only person staffing the counter.  He spoke fair English and proceeded to go to work on the iPad.  He knew how to pull out the 3G chip carrier and quickly handed me our old AT&T chip and after a few tries got a Vodafone chip in place.  Then it was off to the settings page.  To make a long story short, Henry never did get us connected but after he made a couple of calls said "it won't be active for an hour."  Total time elapsed to get to that point was about 45 minutes.  I was so glad that I wasn't behind me in line.  A couple of people who unfortunately were behind me left. 

Henry gave me his phone number and said "call me if it doesn't work."  Once I got home, I took the USB stick modem out of the package, put it into the slot on our laptop, found the install file, ran it and was immediately connected to the Web.  The iPad connection still was no-go.

The iPad was successfully locating the Vodafone network since I could see the "Vodafone 3G" label in the upper left corner of the iPad.  But apparently, it was not connecting.  I have managed to use our iPad for two years without ever opening the Cellular Data settings menu.  I opened it up.  What in the hell is an APN?

Since the Internet appears to contain the sum-total of all human knowledge, I opted to look there instead of calling Henry.  Wikipedia explains Access Point Names (APNs).  I found this wonderful site which list APNs along with the necessary UserID and passwords for connecting to Vodfone's networks in several countries.

The APN etc., that Henry had input was completely different.  I changed them to those listed on the web and voila!  We have Internet access on the iPad.  Why does an iPad user need to know and set the APN stuff and not someone with a stick modem connecting to the same network?  Your guess is as good as mine.

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