I am a Rogers AT&T wireless customer and I recently bought a GSM/GPRS data-capable phone, a nice Motorola 280 (aka Timeport 280, or P280). It was my intent to use this phone for wireless data connections with my handheld and portable computers, but I decided not to buy the Rogers software kit, Portage Plus. Not only because it is expensive, not only because it is a piece of software I'd much rather be without, but mainly because I intend to use the wireless phone with non-Windows devices as well, on which the software kit would be useless. Instead, I had to find a way to manually establish a connection using their data service.

GPRS is a new technology for me, so I had to start from scratch. What I learned is that a GPRS phone is supposed to work in "modem compatibility" mode, in which you can issue standard AT commands to establish a connection. Specifically, you can use the ATD (dial) command to dial a special phone number, which places the phone in GPRS data mode.

Before you do this, however, you have to set up your connection context. This is accomplished by a GPRS-specific AT command, +CGDCONT. The parameters for this command are given by your GPRS provider.

At the Rogers AT&T Web site I found an FAQ that lists the following parameters for wireless data:


Username:   wapuser1
Password:   wap

Using this information, I set up a Dial-Up Networking connection on my portable computer. I specified the following modem initialization command to create context #2:


With this context established, all I had to do was to complete the setup with the phone number *99***2#, using the username and password provided by Rogers.

Unfortunately, this wasn't enough. I was able to establish a PPP connection alright, but I got no name service, and I was unable to connect to remote servers beyond a few Rogers internal hosts. More investigation on the Web revealed the cause: goam.com is an APN for WAP (microbrowser) connections, not for a full-fledged data service connection. For that, I need another APN: internet.com.

Unfortunately, internet.com did not work. Yet more searching on the Web revealed that apparently, I need to ask Rogers to activate this for me. Time to call Rogers at 1-866-931-3282! Much to my surprise, they accepted my explanation that I intend to use a non-Windows computer; they accepted the fact that I have not bought their software; and eventually they found out that indeed, with the service options I signed up for, I should have had IP capability enabled already. As they promised, half an hour later I was able to establish a fully functional Internet connection, using the following parameters:

Modem initialization string:   at+cgdcont=2,ip,internet.com
Dial telephone number:   *99***2#
Username for PPP authentication:   wapuser1
Password for above:   wap

In case you are wondering, the *99***2# format is not a typo. It is a special phone number that instructs the phone to go into GPRS data mode using context #2; the same context that was established using the +CGDCONT AT command.