Review: Netgear AirCard 790s (Telstra Wi-Fi 4G Advanced II)

The Netgear AirCard 790s (also known as the Telstra Wi-Fi 4G Advanced II) is the first device sold by Telstra to support LTE on all current and future bands, and support LTE-A CA (carrier aggregration) across multiple bands. It’s also the first hotspot to carry the new 4GX branding. You’ll always get the fastest speeds possible, today and into the foreseeable future, with support for LTE on bands 1 (2100mhz), 3 (1800mhz), 7 (2600mhz), 8 (900mhz) and 28 (700mhz). And 3G too, so you’re covered everywhere. The 790s also supports LTE-A CA on bands 3+28, 28+7, 3+7 and 7+7 – for typical speeds of between 2Mbps to 100Mbps in a 4GX area. In a standard 4G area, you should see typical download speeds of  2Mbps to 50Mbps.

IMG_1024.JPG IMG_1028.JPG

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iOS Carrier Bundles Demystified

One of my favourite things about the iPhone is that it’s fairly painless to throw another SIM card into your iPhone, and have all of your carriers settings just work (internet, MMS, voicemail, and tethering if your carrier allows it). The way this magic works is that Apple actually has the settings for all of the official iPhone carriers preloaded into iOS. If you throw in a SIM from a supported carrier, the settings are simply loaded and away you go. These are referred to as carrier bundles (or, carrier settings according to Apple).

Carrier settings updates are small files (about 10 kb) that are installed on your iPhone or iPad (Wi-Fi + Cellular models). Carrier settings include updates to Access Point Names (APNs), MMS settings, features such as tethering, and default apps such as Stocks, Maps, and Weather.

 

On your iOS device, they live at

/var/mobile/Library/Carrier Bundles/ – bundles that have been updated with iTunes, or pushed over the air

/System/Library/Carrier Bundles/ – stock bundles that ship with iOS

On your computer side, they can be found at

~/Library/iTunes/iPhone Carrier Support/

If you haven’t ever had iTunes prompt you about a carrier update, this folder probably won’t exist.

Carrier bundles themselves are simply .zip archives, but with a .ipcc extension instead. They’re named after your carrier, and may also say whether they’re for your iPhone or iPad (Telstra_au_iPhone.ipcc)

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Custom iPhone Carrier Logos


Image via Chris

iOS 6? Please head over here.

Have you ever looked at your carrier name in the status bar of your iPhone? Chances are you have. If you’ve ever wondered where this actually comes from – this is really just an image contained in the carrier’s bundle of settings.

This makes it much easier for this to be customised or changed. Carriers can (naturally) and do change how their network appears – Optus changed from ‘OPTUS’ in firmwares lower than 4.x to ‘YES OPTUS’ in iOS 5. Telstra choose to display ‘3TELSTRA’ as ‘Telstra’, (and likewise for 3 – choosing to appear as ‘3’ instead of 3TELSTRA)

This is also handy for users – carrier bundles are easily edited and tweaked by users and can be deployed semi-officially – the same way carriers can deploy themselves on the side.

While in iOS 5 many of the actual carrier configuration data is signed and will refuse to work if the signature is broken – the images are free rein. You can do whatever you want here.

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Downgrading from iOS 4.3b back to 4.2.1

If you’re like me and enjoy tinkering and playing with the latest iOS betas simply for the ‘fun of it’, chances are you’re pretty ‘cluey’ about iOS and how the iPad, iPhone and so on work.

As of the iPhone 3GS and iOS 3.x, Apple now signs every single firmware with a signature, unique to every single device and firmware called a ‘SHSH blob’. This means that usually once Apple releases an update, you can’t go back down, you’re forced to go up. Presumably in an attempt to prevent jailbreaking, to enforce security and to make sure everyone has the latest version.

Usually it’s pretty easy to downgrade if you’ve got the SHSH blob for your device for the firmware you’re trying to downgrade to. Unfortunately, as of iOS 4.2.1, Apple is making things somewhat trickier.

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