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August 18, 2011

How to make Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go work with OS X 10.7 Lion


If you spend hours online twittering back and forth with Virgin's customer service people, you'll be told that though the useful USB stick works with Tiger, Leopard and Snow Leopard (OS Xs 10.4, 10.5 and 10.6 respectively), it doesn't work with Lion.

This dismayed me since I thought my new Air would be even more useful knowing I could get online at adequate speeds no matter where I was, regardless of WiFi being available or not.

So I figured I'd just wait a few weeks and maybe Virgin or someone would figure out a way to make the device work with Lion.

I'd noticed that online communities* were starting to voice frustration with the same problem I was having, Lion only having been out since July 20, less than a month.

I figured I had nothing to lose by asking Paul Biba, head honcho of Teleread, if he had any tips or advice for me.

After all, he's the person who pointed me to Virgin BB2Go back in February of this year, leading to my purchasing it and posting about my most excellent experience on March 2.

Paul emailed me back, "Here's something you could try.  Lion boots directly into 64-bit mode and a number of programs don't work in that mode.  Try booting into 32-bit mode and see if your modem works.  Here's how to do it: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht3773

Believe it or not, it worked!

So simple: turn off the computer, then hold down the 3 and 2 keys during startup. 

It was like a miracle: I put the Virgin stick into a USB port after doing that and all of a sudden the red Broadband2Go box appeared on the screen reading "Connecting" and voilà, a few seconds later I was online via Sprint's 3G network.

True, the speeds (below)


aren't comparable to what I'm used to here at home but the wonder isn't that it's so comparatively slow, it's that it works at all.


Thank you, Paul.

*It is indeed true that forum discussant Alistair wrote on July 27, "I've read another thread where I need to hold down 3 + 2 during restart as Virgin dongles are 32-bit?"

But when I read that, I wasn't sure exactly what he meant: was I supposed to hold down three keys — 3,+ and 2 — or just the 3 and 2, and would this possibly blow up my machine or cause a kernel panic (whatever that is, I do know it's not about having a bunch of unpopped old maids after you make popcorn, I'm not that stupid... but I digress) or otherwise make my Air a fancy paperweight?

Plus Alistair's preceding paragraph, "I've found network preferences in system preferences but how do I ensure it's not been reset? The wifi works fine..." made me nervous: that stuff about network preferences and system preferences and resets and wifi possibly not working made me realize there were a zillion things I could mess up with my TechnoDolt™ knowledge base guiding me through this, and that it would be best to cool my jets for the time being rather than going where I have no business going.

Which I was doing until Paul broke the logjam.

August 18, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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Are you using the Virgin Mobile Mobilelink 3 application, or setting things up in network preferences? MobileLink keeps failing, and when I try and run it as a modem under network preferences (as I did in Snow Leopard), I get a connection, and an IP address, but when I look at the console logs to see why nothing works even though I'm sending data and have an IP address, console says that the vmnet-bridge process couldn't start up. I've known about the need to start up in 32-bit mode for a while, and have been trying to tell virgin mobile about it. It's not just Lion -- newer macbook Pros under Snow Leopard also start up in 64 bit mode.

Any suggestions?


Posted by: bob | Aug 27, 2011 7:31:14 PM

The Teather feature in iPhones (and the 3G iPad hack) work for me. As I understand the rumors about the iPhone 5 - tethering will be turned on by default.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Aug 18, 2011 3:04:14 PM

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