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NetworkManager Mobile Broadband


Proper support of GSM and CDMA mobile broadband cards in NetworkManager, including first-class device support like Ethernet and WiFi devices.


  • Name: DanWilliams

Current status

  • Targeted release: Fedora 9
  • Last updated: 2008-03-19
  • Percentage of completion: 100%

2008-03-19: some GUI bits remain to be done but are not critical path for F9 and do not affect API/ABI at all. gconf-editor may always be used as a backup.

Detailed Description

NetworkManager does support PPP connections in general but lacks some features that make mobile broadband more useful:

  • Recognize CDMA and GSM devices in the applet (Done)
  • Recognize CDMA and GSM devices in NetworkManager (Done)
  • Tag modems and mobile broadband cards in HAL (Done)
  • GUI for entering authentication information
  • GUI for entering SIM card pin (GSM only)

Benefit to Fedora

Proper mobile broadband support will enable users to have Just Works internet access while traveling outside WiFi coverage and is generally cheaper than using expensive hotel WiFi hotspots. Furthermore, it will allow users to use their normal VPN connections quite easily over the mobile broadband connection which is impossible with the current limited PPP support.


Requires updates to hal-info to tag mobile broadband cards so that NM can recognize them, and a lot of work in NetworkManager to handle the cards.

Test Plan

Push changes upstream to get wider testing, and test with as many mobile broadband card users as I can find locally in Westford. I've been loaned a Sprint CDMA card until April to ensure this feature works.

User Experience

The user experience for mobile broadband cards should be like a normal WiFi card. If the user needs advanced settings (non-default APN, etc), they must update the connection via the connection editor. Examples include the phone number to dial, the preferred cellular network, the APN (GSM only), and other things. Also, mobile broadband connections default to autoconnect=no because rates are usually metered on KB. However, the user should be able to simply choose a connection from the sub-menu of the mobile broadband device and have NetworkManager activate that connection just as easily as WiFi or Ethernet connections are used.


Changes to hal-info are required (Done) to tag mobile broadband cards as modems and their supported command sets (to distinguish between CDMA and GSM). An .fdi file listing all supported devices will be needed (Done).

Contingency Plan

Ship without the pretty features (GUI stuff and signal strength); but keep basic mobile broadband connectivity.


Release Notes

Fedora 9 includes basic mobile broadband support including support for VPN connections over the cellular device. Supported GSM and CDMA devices show up in the NetworkManager applet and may be selected as a network connection. Signal strength while connected is not supported at this time because most cards use proprietary protocols to retrieve signal strength while connected.