• Getting O2 Mobile Broadband (HUAWEI E160 adapter) to work in Windows 7

    by  • January 22, 2010 • mobile broadband, o2, windows 7 • 26 Comments

    I’ve just picked up an PAYG mobile broadband package from O2 with a HUAWEI Mobile Connect E160 USB stick. Expecting an effortless install I inserted the USB stick, ran the setup and got to the O2 Connection Manager menu, but the cellular network connection ‘O2-UK’ was missing. This was even after running “Install the USB modem” within the O2 Connection manager.

    Looking around there seems to be some issues getting the thing up and running with Windows 7 and after digging around a bit I managed to get it up and running on both 32-bit and 64-bit installs after a bit of tooing and froing.

    If you are having issues with the O2 Connection Manager even after going through the Windows 7 specific instructions at http://broadband.o2.co.uk/win7upgrade/huawei.jsp, especially where it successfully installs but you are unable to see the “O2-UK” access point in the menu, like in the image below, or it just lists your wifi access points, then try this out but with your own responsibility, YMMV. I got the dongle to work on 2/3 machines by following this procedure, the other one required some more indepth investigation.
    With the USB dongle out:

    1. Download the latest ‘O2 Connection Manager’ software from http://broadband.o2.co.uk/win7upgrade/huawei.jsp – but don’t run it.

    2. Uninstall any old versions of the O2 Connection Manager by typing “Remove Programs” in Start menu search bar and double click O2 Connection Manager.

    3. Restart your PC.

    4. Install latest O2 Connection Manager software you downloaded from step 1.

    Now, insert the dongle:

    5. You should hear two dings from detected devices – if you hear any more then your probably in luck.

    6. Open O2 Connection Manager, give it a minute and see if O2-UK pops up, if so great and you can stop reading from this point. If not, then we need to do some extra work, so close O2 Connection Manager.

    7. If you are using Windows 7 x64, open an Explorer window to C:\Program Files (x86)\O2CM-CE\O2 Connection Manager\TDW\253\Driver, otherwise if you are using Windows 7 32-bit, open an explorer window to C:\Program Files\O2CM-CE\O2 Connection Manager\TDW\253\Driver.

    8. Type “Device Manager” into start menu, click View->Devices by connection and expand each of your USB Host Controllers until you find USB Mass Storage device, underneath which is the Huawei Mass Storage USB Device. Remove the USB Mass Storage device entry by right clicking->Uninstall. Make sure its the USB Mass Storage device (the one I’ve selected), and not the Host Controller or hub you are removing!

    9. Now, go back to that open explorer window, and double click on DriverSetup.exe. It doesn’t pop up any windows or anything but you should get a few dings from newly detected devices within 30 seconds or so, this corresponds to the mass storage as well as the modem portion of the dongle. Check back at the Device Manager to see if you get something that looks like this:

    Unfortunately, if its just the two dings and you see just the USB Mass storage device on Device Manager (like the first picture) then this procedure hasn’t worked :(

    10. You should be able to re-open O2 Connection Manager, give it a minute or so and “O2-UK” should now pop up as per the O2 user manual.

    Bear in mind the whole experience is still a little flaky as if you plug the dongle into another USB port it will simply install as a mass storage device – so remember which USB port you put the dongle into and make sure you put it in that port whenever you want to use mobile broadband! Hopefully O2 can sort these numerous issues out stat!


    .NET developer at thetrainline.com, previously web developer at MRM Meteorite. Awarded a PhD in misbehaviour detection in wireless ad-hoc networks. A keen C# ASP.net developer bridging the gap with APIs and JavaScript frameworks, one web app at a time.


    26 Responses to Getting O2 Mobile Broadband (HUAWEI E160 adapter) to work in Windows 7

    1. Jimmy
      May 3, 2010 at 8:41 am

      Its work, thanks Paul.

    2. James
      June 6, 2010 at 5:18 pm

      Can I just share that I tried this method and was unsuccessful. In the end I changed the driver for the “USB Mass Storage Device” above the HUAWEI to a “USB Composite Device” manually and as a result all the other necessary components were detected.

    3. June 6, 2010 at 5:42 pm

      Thanks for sharing your technique James, I’ll have to give it a go, and it’ll be good to share for others that stumble upon the blog.

    4. Ben Thomas
      July 26, 2010 at 10:51 am

      James, thanks for the tip about changing it from “USB Mass Storage Device” to “USB Composite Device”! That did the trick for me :) (on Win 7 64bit)

    5. Ed
      August 15, 2010 at 6:23 pm

      Paul, thanks for this, but your standard fix didn’t work for me. James, your additional step worked a treat. Thanks very much. Worked for me in 32 bit Win 7.

      Took me a while to figure it out though. I did the following:

      Right click on USB Root Hub and select “update driver software”. Then click “browse my computer for driver software”. Then click “let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer”. Untick “show compatible hardware”. Select “standard usb host controller” from the left list, then “USB composite device” from the right list. Click next and go through the warnings, and the modem should install.

    6. Rob
      September 21, 2010 at 5:43 pm

      Thank you!!!

    7. September 28, 2010 at 1:26 am

      Install is OK with win 7, thanks

    8. David
      September 29, 2010 at 2:21 pm

      Thanks for this… I was lost without your help :)

    9. snake
      January 4, 2011 at 9:16 am

      Thanks for posting that. I have a new machine on its way
      and that’s the only way I can connect to the internet, in all
      places, a capital city in Germany. I just hope that O2 out there
      isn’t a scam like it is here with the sticks: first, we got our
      stick through Tchibo and it’s prepaid, with no contract. Month
      after month, we were capped at 2.5 gigs and supposed to be getting
      a still pitiful 5gb. We finally called, they claimed they saw no
      problem, but then there was magically no 5gb limit anymore. The
      other scam that still persists for all I know with this system is
      that after the 5gb, it’s supposed to go to 64k. The problem is the
      throughput goes to zero constantly and one has to disconnect and
      reconnect over and over. It’s truly pathetic the scams that go on
      in Germany. So far, no resolution for that second problem.

    10. Simon
      January 11, 2011 at 9:45 am

      Thanks for this, it even worked with my T mobile E160
      dongle on Windows 7 32bit using T Mobile web n walk software, the
      folder directories are a little different. i just uninstalled the
      mass storage in device manager, ran driver setup.exe, works fine

    11. Raed
      March 26, 2011 at 3:25 pm

      Thanks matey, until I cam across your post I was pulling my hair out

    12. Al
      March 27, 2011 at 11:40 pm

      Thanks all, I had to try this a couple of times and hit scan for hardware changes on some unrecognised composite devices but it got there eventually! Much appreciated.

    13. Martin Corner
      April 14, 2011 at 7:29 am

      Many Thanks guys, followed Ed’s post and it now works!!!!!!!!!!!

      Cannot thank you enough, was having to dual boot XP when I was out the office

      Greatly appreciated


    14. Julian Mildren
      May 3, 2011 at 2:05 pm

      If it’s any help, just downloaded the driver from the O2 website today, and followed their instructions. Sure enough, after inserting the dongle, nothing happened, and three instances of software not installed appeared. Being a firm beliver in switch off and have a cup of tea, and a read of Paul’s excellent instructions, I restarted, and voila it worked without any help from me! – I’m running Windows 7 Professional 64bit – dare I venture that O2 have finally sorted this out?

    15. Hilary
      May 26, 2011 at 3:26 pm

      Sire, you are a genius. Many thanks you have just saved me some hours of fruitless fumbling.

    16. Graham Burton
      May 28, 2011 at 11:49 am

      Many thanks, Paul.
      Have been struggling like mad with my O2 E160 since moving to W7 64b. Use an unlocked one every year in south Africa with local Vodacom, really essential.
      Followed your complete procedure and Bingo! Finds both my O2 and 3Uk sims. just hope SA Vodacom is good too.
      Great stuff, Graham

    17. August 17, 2011 at 2:08 pm

      Brilliant, have been struggling with this for a while and I’m all sorted again now. Thanks very much! Now all I need to do is stop O2 from disconnecting my SIM if I don’t use it for six months…

    18. Phil Mulligan
      August 18, 2011 at 10:02 am

      Thanks for this Paul – and thanks also to Ed (comment 5). I needed all this info to persuade 64-bit win7 to install the driver properly.

    19. September 28, 2011 at 3:13 pm

      wow, awesome … I was fiddling with that for hours – thanks to Paul, James and Ed who rescued my day.

    20. Neil
      February 8, 2012 at 9:52 pm

      James wrote:- ” In the end I changed the driver for the “USB Mass Storage Device” above the HUAWEI to a “USB Composite Device””

      Can you explain how you did this in a little more detail as I can’t work out how it is changed.


    21. Neil
      February 9, 2012 at 11:19 am

      No reply necessary as I finally managed to figure it out and get everything working.

      Without this blog and the associated comments I was ready to junk the E160 and get something else.

      Karma to all


    22. February 12, 2012 at 7:32 pm

      Thanks Neil for your comment and great to hear you got it working – still v suprised they’re no closer to addressing the problems when using the dongle in Win7.

    23. Mark
      February 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm

      Thanks for your helpful page!

      I was trying to get the (O2-branded) E160 working with the NEW NEW connection manager – it’s just called ‘connection manager’ and is ‘version 8.8’ (or (

      It wasn’t being recognised in this new verion despite installing the modem driver the way it says you should and shows you to.

      what i did was this:

      after initially installing the driver via the way it gets you to in the installer (or in the program setting), after computer restart and inserting the E160 in, go to device manager and uninstall the ‘USB Mass Storage Device’ that pertains to the E160. I just installed both that showed in device manager as I didn’t know which it was. then wait couple of minutes and windows should hopefully do something it hasn’t tried to do yet: a whole lot of ‘installing new hardware’ things come up and finally the proper driver installed by the new connection manager version seems to be assigned to the E160, and is recognised in the v8.8 program and I’m writing this comment using its internet as we speak :).

    24. Frank
      June 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm

      Thanx, this page helped me to get my Fonic E160 to work in Win7!

    25. colla
      July 6, 2012 at 12:15 am

      Thank you all!

    26. Pingback: huawei e160 - The Informazione

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