Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

3G no likey my PB

The wireless 3G connection we purchased, when OTE failed to complete the work order of our phone line and ADSL in six months, has developed a love-hate relationship with my Powerbook (PB).

It wasn’t the fastest thing in the world, but it was stable, reliable and absolutely better than what we had previously, which was zero. After two weeks of seamless service, it stopped working. No updates to my OS or brower, no settings were changed, no viruses. Just one day I plugged it in as normal, the 3G software froze and never worked again. I tried restarting, rebooting, deinstalling, reinstalling, etc. Nothing.

I saw on the provider’s website that the version of OSX on my laptop was actually higher than recommended, so I did a “clean and reinstall.” For anyone not knowing what that is, it means I erased my whole laptop and reinstalled everything from the beginning; it’s time consuming, inconvenient and rather stupid, all to accommodate a 3G connection.

Well, this worked, but (again) only for two weeks. When nothing else worked, I went ahead and did yet another clean and reinstall since I didn’t bother putting everything back in case the 3G bombed again. You guessed it: Worked for two weeks…bombed.

My fiancé went to the provider’s website and downloaded a new update for me, and I gave it a try. It worked for two weeks (woo hoo!) and then kaput (boo hoo!). Again, no changes, no updates, just didn’t work anymore. I tried everything I did before, blah, blah, blah. Nothing.

Customer service gave me predictable answers:
– “You need to restart.” Uh der, already did that. (Duh)
– “You should update the 3G software.” Already did that.
– “You have made some changes and that’s why it doesn’t work.” Is that a question or an accusation? Anyway, it’s not true. In fact, I keep my whole laptop dumbed down to accommodate this 3G stick.
– “You need to de-install and reinstall.” Already did that.

When I told them I erased my entire laptop and reinstalled all the software to get it working again, they told me it wasn’t necessary. Well, maybe so, but that was the only method that worked because none of their suggestions did.

So what did they suggest? That’s right. Instead of giving this to the troubleshooting team, they pushed it back onto me and told me to erase my laptop again and start from scratch. Uh hello? Why should I do that, when it’s incredibly time consuming AND only works for two weeks before I’ve got to do it all over again! No thanks. And didn’t they just get done telling me that “it wasn’t necessary?”

It was suggested I wait until the next 3G software update and see what happens, since I was “uncooperative” in not wanting to erase my entire laptop. Yeah, what a demanding b!tch I am. Well, the update came out two weeks ago, didn’t work, and the customer service guy helping me is on diakopes (vacation). Other people keep giving me the same tired suggestions and no solution.

Since the 3G no likey my PB, I use my fiancé’s PC in the back office because the 3G likey PC. While it’s certainly better than nothing, this workaround is synonymous with full-on traffic noise and full sun without AC until I’ve soaked my clothes with sweat and need to retreat to the living room or take a shower. To minimize exposure, I run between the PC and my PB in the living room with a flash drive, taking docs and text from here to there and back again. It’s annoying and a lot less productive.

To add insult to injury, the PC had an incident the other day when trojans attacked the hard drive and also had to be cleaned and reinstalled from nothing. And now for unknown reasons, the signal is ‘poor’ instead of ‘strong,’ though both are in the same location as before.

Maybe it’s only a matter of time before 3G no likey PC too.

Related posts

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  Cheryl wrote @ August 21st, 2008 at 18:19

Oh God…ugh.

I hope things start working soon.

  graffic wrote @ August 21st, 2008 at 18:53

Well, you know I have the 3G connection. For me the performance was ok to read your blog, some webpages, and update from time to time my blog. That was all. The performance of the service was always a bit low but enough to do my basic stuff.

My 3G modem is a Huawei. It was working only with the application provided by Wind. After some research I upgraded the firmware and also the drivers. Then it started to work seamlessly in Leopard, like a normal modem, and I stopped using the awful Wind application.

Still it was slow, because the drivers weren’t very “official”: they’re in Huawei’s website but the code ouputs a lot of unuseful text into a file. That means that the HD of my notebook was always spinning: no power savings. Later I got info about these messages, they were from the developer and there was no schedule for finished ones.

Btw, this will give you some incoming links from google with people looking for the strange message: “::dataReadComplete: dingjianjian = 0″. (dingjianjian is the developer’s name).

Now I have a DSL line from Hellas Online. I use the 3G connection for work or when I go wherever. I always have the internet with me. Happy with the new drivers because at least I can connect to the internet. With the old ones I’ve spent weekends without internet.

Have you tried on an Intel Mac and on windows?

  greekamericaninreece wrote @ August 22nd, 2008 at 00:33

I It amazes me that you are still in Greece putting up with all these nuts. We have been here for 2 moths enjoying living finally as tourists. Did manage to get a DSL connection on time ( make that ADSL ). In the beginning I was gonna get the 3G as I had been told that it would take a while for the ADSL to be set up again. Anyway, it was installed withing a few weeks of my order so I am happy to say that the ADSL speed is fine, line is reliable, OTE online service acceptable. Had a 3G in the past and performance was miserable when i was able to connect ( OTE 3G card). Hope you are doing well and have a nice winter.

  Grotesko wrote @ August 22nd, 2008 at 01:46

Your posts are all so interesting.
I got into your blog through Cheryl.

  maria v wrote @ August 22nd, 2008 at 14:06

if the internet stopped working in my life, i think i’d be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. either that, or more housework would get done…

  EllasDevil wrote @ August 23rd, 2008 at 12:50

Kat, you should approach a company like OnTelecom and see if they can help you. They are LLU which means they don’t use any of OTE’s infastructure and they can come and install for you a new line.

I say this because my cousin had to do it. The OTE line was in the name of her mother so they couldn’t transfer to ON without completing ‘change of ownership’ papers with OTE before then applying to ON.

So when she called ON, they said “oh we’ll come and install a new line for you with a new number and it only cost an extra 30€.

She now has working line and internet from ON and is happy.

I don’t know if this is an avenue you’ve explored (calling a LLU company and asking for a brand new line rather than a transfer).

ON can be reached at: 13801

If you go to the website and put in the phone number that was assigned to you by OTE, it will check the results of LLU in your area whether or not your area has been unbundled.

Hope this is of some help

  CS wrote @ August 24th, 2008 at 05:30


Hook-ups and conditions sound mundane compared to my experiences back in the 60s and 70s (The days of wine and roses). One could wait years, many years for a phone line. Or for a hefty price one could buy the line from someone. An alternative one could visit OTE top dogs with a fakelaki.

The transition in later years has been amazing. I have been incredulous at the quality of the phone lines compared to the earlier years. In many ways it has surpassed the U.S. A call to Verizon, for example, after pushing a language choice, English or Spanish, and waiting for fifteen or more minutes, gets you to Delhi or Singapore to answer your problem. Hopefully there, you can talk to real Greeks and you don’t have to push #1 for a choice of languge.

  FMS wrote @ August 27th, 2008 at 02:11

ON holiday until September 8th??!! Anyone who thought that the private sector in Greece is an improvement on the public sector should think again…The problem is with Greek mentality — which means that you need non-Greeks to own and run a company before it stands a chance of working properly.

  Phillip wrote @ August 28th, 2008 at 02:22

wow, that’s really terrible. phone and internet companies here, i mean yes, i know it used to take years even to get a phone line, which was way before i moved here. and adsl has just become affordable and widespread. we should be cheering! yea! yippee! why it is so damn bittersweet? i can’t believe it’s so difficult for you to get an adsl connection. i have HOL, and i have no complaints so far. i live in the center, maybe things move faster here, i don’t know. i used to have forthnet, and no complaints there either, i only left them because i moved, and i can’t remember why i switched. oh, i remember–because HOL said they would set me up faster, which they did. anyway, i know none of this helps you! i hope that the 3G stick improves, or at least helps in some way. it sucks not having the internet, after you’ve had it. what a headache!

  Darrell wrote @ August 28th, 2008 at 23:36

You may want to try the official drivers from Huawei. I use Wind non-stop for Internet access but I use the Sierra drivers for my Sierra card rather than the Wind drivers. The Sierra drivers seem to know about all the networks including every Greek network I am aware of. I would hope that Huawei is similar.

My niece uses Net One and put the same service in her mother’s house. They have nothing but good things to say about the company. There are other companies as well that provide DSL lines and phone service as a bundle.

  Kat wrote @ August 28th, 2008 at 23:51

C – And I hope your AC finally gets installed after what you’ve been through. Just ridiculous.

Graf – The Vodafone stick is also Huawei (E172), but I had not explored the “unofficial” drivers. Why? Because then customer service cannot blame me or “others” for problems that are only their own.

The PC I described in the post is on Windows. Yesterday the driver kept disconnecting every few minutes and we solved that by reinstalling the software. The signal is still worse than before the HD swap 2 days ago for no apparent reason, but it otherwise works perfect with the PC. When it did work with the Mac, it worked fine also.

I only have the Mac you saw, no others, and we do not use them at work. And just so you know, we are not looking for fast; we are looking for reliable. I have thought to switching to Wind, but that means we’d have to keep paying the contract we already have. Thus, we’d be paying two contracts, not to mention the 6 months of payments we already lost to OTE for nothing.

And for the record, OTE has still not been given the official paper by the person in charge of our area to complete any new lines, i.e., Technically, we did have an installation, a line and a number; it just didn’t work. That’s 9 months. I’m glad we gave up. If it weren’t for that paper, we would have had our ADSL in 3 days because of our connections (”Miracle on Thiseos Street“). It is also not possible to sign up with any other provider since OTE still must open the gateway if we chose HOL, Forthnet, Netone or anyone else; the absence of this paper makes that impossible. The only way around it is through the 3G stick…or no Internet at all.

Thanks for your generous offer of letting me try your Wind 3G and for the driver. I tried the latter and it didn’t work, but I won’t give up.

Grotesko – Hi and welcome and thank you :)

M – LOL!!! All our housework is done because I clean when I am frustrated/angry. Aside from trying to maintain and grow this website (of which I’m now grossly behind the schedule I set), I namely need the Internet because some of my normal work is done this way. The 3G stick is literally our last option.

ED – I’ll look into it on Monday, just to see if it’s possible; their site says it’s available, but I’ve learned that it’s better to get confirmation especially with our extenuating circumstances. In the end, we may not invest in yet another solution for the reasons we discussed off-site.

Update: I called OnTelecoms regarding the LLU, and the person who can help me is on vacation in Italy until Sept. 8th and they could not refer me to anyone else. Sending a request via their online customer form netted me the same answer.

CS – Many basic aspects of my life are made mundane by lame things like this when I could instead spend time on more fruitful and enjoyable pursuits. I do not see them as interesting stories or adventures, and anyone thinking I should probably leads a boring life. I do remember even 11 years ago when my landlord asked me for a large sum to buy the line or wait an average of a year. I suppose that’s why I feel I’ve warped back in time because in 3 months, we’ve been waiting the same amount of time…and I’m living in a supposedly “good” area of Athens. Our connections did us no good because the paper comes from someone too far up who turns out to be a contractor, not an OTE employee. If it weren’t for the wireless stick, we’d have absolutely nothing and I’d be writing you from an Internet cafe.

X – Ti na kanoume?

P – Of course we don’t live in a remote area, island or village; we live in Athens. These are simply highly unusual circumstances in which nothing can be done and proves that things like this still happen.

D – I appreciate the advice, however as I said previously, I tried the official drivers and they didn’t work. My Mac has a built-in, so a card and a driver don’t apply to me. I’d also like to add that all 3G sticks work better with PCs, but what I’m talking about is a Mac. The Vodafone stick is a newer model (E172) than Wind (E170), and the Wind stick is generally not usable ‘as is’ for Macs either.

Switching or signing up with another ADSL provider or phone service is pointless because (as I said above), OTE still needs to open the gateway, and the paper from the non-OTE contractor prevents that from happening; we would have otherwise had ADSL in an unprecedented 3 days with our very inside connections. People don’t seem to realize that OTE still has control of all lines to an extent no matter what provider or bundle is chosen, and I would never sign up for NetOne due to their notoriously unstable and poor service. This is the reason EllasDevil suggested the LLU from OnTelecoms (they cooperate with Italy).

Update 2: A technical genius named Graf came to my house yesterday, let me try his Wind stick (which he’d tweaked for his Mac), and then spent more than an hour trying a multitude of combinations, configurations, software, fixes, etc. with my Vodafone 3G, and the stick is now working with my Mac. He essentially removed Vodafone from the equation. Ironic.

  dealsend wrote @ September 4th, 2008 at 13:27

I have the Huawei modem from Cosmote Internet on the Go and works just fine with my Macbook, although I dont even use the right drivers.

What I know for sure, and probably you know it as well, is that 3g is not always available!!

Take care

  phil wrote @ February 13th, 2009 at 11:45

Hi – I realize this is an old thread. I’m having trouble finding comments on Greek broadband providers in English. I’m in Chania and at present have OTE Connx at Home ADSL and phone, the top of the range. It is ok, speed varies quite a bit and only seems a fraction of what it is supposed to be. On some rare occasions at say 4am I have got downloads in excess of 200-300kb/s. But most times downloads do not exceed 170kb/s tops. It is expensive by comparison with the Hellas Online equivalent package, which also includes free landline calls to 16 countries and free calls within Greece. So I am thinking of trying Hellas Online. Any comments/advice?

  Kat wrote @ February 15th, 2009 at 15:10

Hi Phil,

Even though posts are written some time ago, many are updated on a regular basis so threads (if open) are still valid.

Service and availability vary by area, neighborhood and individual. Our landlords downstairs get amazing service and speed from OTE, but we live just above and there is no service available to us. It depends on many things. We tried getting an HOL line, but OTE is still involved and thus holding us up. So even if HOL promises you something, it isn’t 100 percent guaranteed you’ll get it. Indeed the HOL offer sounds good and many I know in Athens are pleased with it, but we still have nothing after 45 days waiting (they promised us a line in 20 days). The up side is we haven’t paid a cent.

When we did have ADSL at other homes, our speed rarely (if ever) got what was stated. Just as our 3G connection never gets up to ‘3G’ (which is supposedly 7.2MB). Most of the time, it creeps along at 5K, 56K if we’re lucky or 200K if the planets align; sometimes it’s not available at all, as Dealsend said above.

So the answer to your question, like so many others in a flexible country such as Greece, is “depends.” I know someone in Irakleio who is completely happy with his OTE ADSL line and gets great service and speed. And I know people in Chania who say it’s crap.

You can go to “The magic of DSL in Greece” article and find some options. HOL discontinued their English website, but they’ll find someone to speak English if you call the customer service number.

  Cass from Rhodes wrote @ February 19th, 2009 at 11:16

You may have rectified your 3G thing now although its worth sharing the valuable knowledge I gleaned from a lovely (yes, lovely) lady from cosmote. She sat on the other end of the phone for ages whilst we worked through solutions for my 3G refusal to connect. Whilst we waited for my laptop to closed down and start up we had a lovely conversation about England and Scotland, she really was very sweet. ANyway, we got it working again and the problem really was very simple. I just have to wait until my computer has completely finished booting up before i even plug in my stck. Then I have to wait until the green light is visible on my stick and then and only then am I allowed to ask it to connect. Simple. See, like all things in this country it just takes patience, lots of patience…………………….

  Kat wrote @ February 19th, 2009 at 12:09

Thank you for sharing that, but my issue and its solution were more complicated. My solution required erasing the given software from the 3G stick, downloading manufacturer drivers, reinstalling them, applying a hack, changing network settings and adjusting stick settings. If it were as simple as waiting to boot and for the green light (or blue light, in my case), I would have figured that out on my own because it’s well documented in hard copy and online instructions.

Vodafone never got back to me after repeated calls over a month, and no one in their tech department had a clue about what to do. Therefore, I did what I normally do over 11 years — rely on myself. After my expertise ran dry, I turned to the friend mentioned above with extensive IT knowledge, and he helped me straight away.

I’ve found that patience does not solve everything in Greece, and not all things are simple or solved by those being paid to help. One cannot generalize this way, nor apply it to all people or situations.

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