How to use LTE modem in QMI mode for WAN connection

Many of currently available 3G/4G/5G modems use QMI and/or MBIM protocol to interact with the host system, e.g. with a router. For your information, QMI is a proprietary protocol by Qualcomm. In contrast to QMI, MBIM is more standardized protocol for such modems.

This recipe explains how to setup and configure OpenWrt for using 3G/4G/5G USB modems for WAN connection, using QMI or MBIM interface.

The same applies to external modems connected to USB ports and internal models installed into M.2(NGFF) or mPCIe slots.

You may want to checkout the mwan3 (Multi WAN load balancing/failover) package to use this simultaneously with other connections to the internet.

Many modern USB modems may operate in different modes. If your modem provides only serial interface(s) like /dev/ttyUSBx - please refer to How to use 3g/UMTS USB Dongle for WAN connection. For more information about other protocols commonly used:

If it is possible to switch your modem to provide QMI or MBIM interface - then this article if for you.

If QMI or MBIM interface is not exposed by the modem initially you may need to switch it to another mode or composition by using USB mode switch tool or a vendor-specific AT command.

:!: Please read about AT commands for your modem.

More recent modems are set by default to MBIM or QMI mode.

This is an example of switching modes for popular Quectel modems (don't expect these proprietary commands to work on devices from other manufacturers):

AT+QCFG="usbnet"	# check the current mode
AT+QCFG="usbnet",0	# set QMI or RMNET mode
AT+QCFG="usbnet",1	# set ECM mode
AT+QCFG="usbnet",2	# set MBIM mode

Reset the modem to apply changes.

It is worth checking the list of PDP Contexts (and APNs) configured on the modem. Use a terminal program to query the modem with AT+CGDCONT? and observe the output. Example:

+CGDCONT: 1,"IPV4V6","internet",...
+CGDCONT: 2,"IPV4V6","ims",...
+CGDCONT: 3,"IPV4V6","sos",...

Typically, but not always, context #1 is used for Internet connection. If it is not configured with the correct information (IP type and APN), it is recommended to set the desired parameters. Example:


Replace IP with IPV4V6 or IPV6 if necessary and use your APN instead of internet.

While in the terminal, check the modem firmware version with ATI and see if there is an upgrade available.

1. Install OpenWrt

2. Complete Steps OpenWrt Configuration

Router should be turned on and connected to the Internet to get the needed packages. Please refer to: Internet Connection.

To make use of QMI protocol, packages kmod-usb-net-qmi-wwan (driver) and uqmi (control utility) are needed. For MBIM protocol the packages are kmod-usb-net-cdc-mbim and umbim.

1. Add protocol support to Luci - install luci-proto-qmi for QMI or luci-proto-mbim for MBIM.

2. Add support for serial interfaces (ttyUSBx) - install kmod-usb-serial-option or kmod-usb-serial-qualcomm depending on the modem.

That is needed to interact with the modem using AT commands, for configuration purposes or to be able to send/receive SMS and USSD. A terminal program like picocom will be needed to actually send AT commands.

3. Install usb-modeswitch if that is needed for switching the modem into a “working” state. More about: USB mode switch

4. Add support for the storage of your modem - refer to: USB Storage

1. Install all the needed packages:

  • if the modem is in QMI mode:
opkg update
opkg install kmod-usb-net-qmi-wwan uqmi luci-proto-qmi kmod-usb-serial-option picocom
  • if the modem is in MBIM mode:
opkg update
opkg install kmod-usb-net-cdc-mbim umbim luci-proto-mbim kmod-usb-serial-option picocom

:!: If your have not enough space on your device - think of installing Rootfs on External Storage (extroot)

:!: Another option is Hardware memory upgrade. Refer to your router Forum thread for possibility and instructions.

2. Reboot the router


3. Check that everything is OK and You got new device:

ls -l /dev/cdc-wdm0

crw-r--r--    1 root     root      180, 176 Oct  1 12:03 /dev/cdc-wdm0

If you have no such device - try to find out what went wrong:

try dmesg to read kernel logs on USB init


or look info about USB devices and interfaces present in the system:

cat /sys/kernel/debug/usb/devices

T:  Bus=01 Lev=01 Prnt=01 Port=00 Cnt=01 Dev#=  3 Spd=480  MxCh= 0
D:  Ver= 2.00 Cls=00(>ifc ) Sub=00 Prot=00 MxPS=64 #Cfgs=  1
P:  Vendor=12d1 ProdID=1506 Rev= 0.00
S:  Manufacturer=Huawei Technologies
S:  Product=HUAWEI Mobile
C:* #Ifs= 3 Cfg#= 1 Atr=c0 MxPwr=500mA
I:* If#= 0 Alt= 0 #EPs= 2 Cls=ff(vend.) Sub=01 Prot=02 Driver=option
E:  Ad=81(I) Atr=02(Bulk) MxPS= 512 Ivl=0ms
E:  Ad=01(O) Atr=02(Bulk) MxPS= 512 Ivl=4ms
I:* If#= 1 Alt= 0 #EPs= 1 Cls=ff(vend.) Sub=01 Prot=09 Driver=qmi_wwan
E:  Ad=82(I) Atr=03(Int.) MxPS=  64 Ivl=2ms
I:* If#= 2 Alt= 0 #EPs= 2 Cls=ff(vend.) Sub=01 Prot=08 Driver=qmi_wwan
E:  Ad=83(I) Atr=02(Bulk) MxPS= 512 Ivl=0ms
E:  Ad=02(O) Atr=02(Bulk) MxPS= 512 Ivl=4ms

See Troubleshooting Section of this page for more information.

If the package luci-proto-qmi is installed, navigate to Network → Interfaces, then Add new interface… → Protocol: QMI Cellular, Interface: “cdc-wdm0”

Alternatively, select “Protocol: MBIM Cellular” if MBIM is in use.

Enter your APN and select the IP type as instructed by the carrier, don't set IP type to IPV4V6 until you're 100% sure that provider supports IPv6, that is critical in QMI mode.

Assign the firewall zone (wan) on 'Firewall Settings' tab.

Add new interface to /etc/config/network using a text editor like vi or nano:

config interface 'wwan'
        option proto 'qmi'
        option device '/dev/cdc-wdm0'
        option apn 'internet'
        option pdptype 'ip'

Make sure the APN name is one provided by your carrier.

Add the same interface name to the existing “wan” firewall zone in /etc/config/firewall:

config zone
    option name 'wan'
    list network 'wwan'

QMI (and MBIM) interfaces could be manually configured in UCI using uci command line or text editor.

Name Type Required Default Description
device file path yes (none) QMI device node, typically /dev/cdc-wdm0
apn string yes (none) Used APN
v6apn string no (none) APN for IPv6 if different from IPv4 APN
auth string no (none) Authentication type: pap, chap, both, none
username string no (none) Username for PAP/CHAP authentication
password string no (none) Password for PAP/CHAP authentication
pincode number no (none) PIN code to unlock SIM card
delay number no 0 Seconds to wait before trying to interact with the modem (some ZTE modems require up to 30 s.)
modes string no (modem default) Allowed network modes, comma separated list of: all, lte, umts, gsm, cdma, td-scdma
pdptype string no IP Used IP-stack mode, IP (for IPv4), IPV6 (for IPv6) or IPV4V6 (for dual-stack). Some carriers require specific stack or it won't connect.
profile number no (none) Connection profile to use
v6profile number no (none) Connection profile for IPv6 if different from IPv4 profile
dhcp boolean no 1 Whether to use DHCP (default) or uqmi (0) to get IPv4 interface configuration
dhcpv6 boolean no 0 Whether to use DHCP (1) or uqmi (default) to get IPv6 interface configuration
autoconnect boolean no 1
plmn number no (none) First three digits are the mcc (mobile country code) and the last three digits are the mnc (mobile network code), for example if plmn=338020, then the mcc is 338 and the mnc is 020
timeout number no 10 Timeout (in seconds) to wait for SIM operations
mtu number no (none) Interface MTU size

Here is a brief help about uqmi command line usage.

No device given
Usage: uqmi <options|actions>
  --single, -s:                     Print output as a single line (for scripts)
  --device=NAME, -d NAME:           Set device name to NAME (required)
  --keep-client-id <name>:          Keep Client ID for service <name>
  --release-client-id <name>:       Release Client ID after exiting
  --mbim, -m                        NAME is an MBIM device with EXT_QMUX support
  --timeout, -t                     response timeout in msecs
Services:                           dms, nas, pds, wds, wms
  --get-versions:                   Get service versions
  --set-client-id <name>,<id>:      Set Client ID for service <name> to <id>
                                    (implies --keep-client-id)
  --get-client-id <name>:           Connect and get Client ID for service <name>
                                    (implies --keep-client-id)
  --sync:                           Release all Client IDs
  --start-network:                  Start network connection (use with options below)
    --apn <apn>:                    Use APN
    --auth-type pap|chap|both|none: Use network authentication type
    --username <name>:              Use network username
    --password <password>:          Use network password
    --ip-family <family>:           Use ip-family for the connection (ipv4, ipv6, unspecified)
    --autoconnect:                  Enable automatic connect/reconnect
    --profile <index>:              Use connection profile
  --stop-network <pdh>:             Stop network connection (use with option below)
    --autoconnect:                  Disable automatic connect/reconnect
  --get-data-status:                Get current data access status
  --set-ip-family <val>:            Set ip-family (ipv4, ipv6, unspecified)
  --set-autoconnect <val>:          Set automatic connect/reconnect (disabled, enabled, paused)
  --get-current-settings:           Get current connection settings
  --get-capabilities:               List device capabilities
  --get-pin-status:                 Get PIN verification status
  --verify-pin1 <pin>:              Verify PIN1
  --verify-pin2 <pin>:              Verify PIN2
  --set-pin1-protection <state>:    Set PIN1 protection state (disabled, enabled)
    --pin <pin>:                    PIN1 needed to change state
  --set-pin2-protection <state>:    Set PIN2 protection state (disabled, enabled)
    --pin <pin2>:                   PIN2 needed to change state
  --change-pin1:                    Change PIN1
    --pin <old pin>:                Current PIN1
    --new-pin <new pin>:            New pin
  --change-pin2:                    Change PIN2
    --pin <old pin>:                Current PIN2
    --new-pin <new pin>:            New pin
  --unblock-pin1:                   Unblock PIN1
    --puk <puk>:                    PUK needed to unblock
    --new-pin <new pin>:            New pin
  --unblock-pin2:                   Unblock PIN2
    --puk <puk>:                    PUK needed to unblock
    --new-pin <new pin>:            New pin
  --get-iccid:                      Get the ICCID
  --get-imsi:                       Get International Mobile Subscriber ID
  --get-imei:                       Get International Mobile Equipment ID
  --get-msisdn:                     Get the MSISDN (telephone number)
  --reset-dms:                      Reset the DMS service
  --set-device-operating-mode <m>   Set the device operating mode
                                    (modes: online, low_power, factory_test, offline
                                     reset, shutting_down, persistent_low_power,
  --fcc-auth:                       Set FCC authentication
  --uim-verify-pin1 <pin>:          Verify PIN1 (new devices)
  --uim-verify-pin2 <pin>:          Verify PIN2 (new devices)
  --set-network-modes <modes>:      Set usable network modes (Syntax: <mode1>[,<mode2>,...])
                                    Available modes: all, lte, umts, gsm, cdma, td-scdma
  --set-network-preference <mode>:  Set preferred network mode to <mode>
                                    Available modes: auto, gsm, wcdma
  --set-network-roaming <mode>:     Set roaming preference:
                                    Available modes: any, off, only
  --network-scan:                   Initiate network scan
  --network-register:               Initiate network register
  --set-plmn:                       Register at specified network
    --mcc <mcc>:                    Mobile Country Code (0 - auto)
    --mnc <mnc>:                    Mobile Network Code
  --get-plmn:                       Get preferred network selection info
  --get-signal-info:                Get signal strength info
  --get-serving-system:             Get serving system info
  --list-messages:                  List SMS messages
  --delete-message <id>:            Delete SMS message at index <id>
  --get-message <id>:               Get SMS message at index <id>
  --get-raw-message <id>:           Get SMS raw message contents at index <id>
  --send-message <data>:            Send SMS message (use options below)
    --send-message-smsc <nr>:       SMSC number
    --send-message-target <nr>:     Destination number (required)
    --send-message-flash:           Send as Flash SMS
  --wda-set-data-format <type>:     Set data format (type: 802.3|raw-ip)
  --wda-get-data-format:            Get data format

MBIM configuration is very similar to QMI. Supported interface configuration options:

device apn pincode delay auth username password allow_roaming allow_partner dhcp dhcpv6 pdptype ip4table ip6table mtu

See QMI Protocol Configuration Parameters above for details.

Here is a brief help about umbim command line:

umbim help
Usage: mbim <caps|pinstate|unlock|connect|disconnect> [options]
    -d <device>         the device (/dev/cdc-wdmX)
    -t <transaction>    the transaction id
    -n                  no close
    -v                  verbose

uqmi tool can talk to MBIM modems using --mbim or -m option on the command line.

First check that everything works correctly:

root@OpenWrt:~# uqmi -d /dev/cdc-wdm0 --get-data-status


root@OpenWrt:~# uqmi -d /dev/cdc-wdm0 --get-signal-info
        "type": "lte",
        "rssi": -71,
        "rsrq": -9,
        "rsrp": -94,
        "snr": 70

To manually start the internet connection - issue a command:

uqmi -d /dev/cdc-wdm0 --start-network internet --autoconnect

Where “internet” is the APN of your provider.

:!: Many providers allow to use “any” APN, so-called “no-settings” connection. So, in many cases “internet” would be just fine

Check the status:

uqmi -d /dev/cdc-wdm0 --get-data-status

--autoconnect key says that you want always be connected, once dongle is inserted to the router and Cellular Network is in range. :!: It will be kept after reboot.

In case you need additional authentication, please look at the possible arguments for the uqmi utility:

  --start-network <apn>:            Start network connection (use with options below)
    --auth-type pap|chap|both|none: Use network authentication type
    --username <name>:              Use network username
    --password <password>:          Use network password
    --autoconnect:                  Enable automatic connect/reconnect
  --stop-network <pdh>:             Stop network connection (use with option below)
    --autoconnect:                  Disable automatic connect/reconnect

To check your balance or send any other AT commands, you need to have usb serial device like: /dev/ttyUSB0

If you have it (if not then install missing usb serial drivers), you can run in first terminal:

cat /dev/ttyUSB0

and in the second (*101# is my USSD code):

echo -ne 'AT+CUSD=1,"*101#",15\r\n' > /dev/ttyUSB0

You should see in first terminal USSD response.

Some providers of the cellular internet use redirection to their pages for access activation, when you are connected first time. I.e. YOTA in Russia.

Normally this would be blocked by dnsmasq:

Jan 18 14:36:49 OpenWrt daemon.warn dnsmasq[1325]: possible DNS-rebind attack detected:

You have 2 options:

  • Allow rebind responses RFC1918 (In LUCI goto NetworkDHCP and DNS and uncheck Rebind protection checkmark)
  • Add domain to Whitelist (In LUCI goto NetworkDHCP and DNS and type in “” without quotes to the Domain whitelist field.

Save & apply

Based on: This Article

Everything is okay but modem doesn't establish connection. What can I try?

You may want to try adding the argument --get-client-id wds and --set-client-id when running uqmi like:

wds=`uqmi -s -d /dev/cdc-wdm0 --get-client-id wds`
uqmi -d /dev/cdc-wdm0 --set-client-id wds,"$wds" --start-network your_apn

Moreover based on this article I discovered that need to reset my modem (tested on Dell Wireless 5804 413c:819b) in boot process, so you can try add the following commands in your /etc/rc.local:

/sbin/uqmi -d /dev/cdc-wdm0 --set-device-operating-mode offline
/sbin/uqmi -d /dev/cdc-wdm0 --set-device-operating-mode reset
/bin/sleep 20
/sbin/uqmi -d /dev/cdc-wdm0 --set-device-operating-mode online
/sbin/uqmi -d /dev/cdc-wdm0 --set-autoconnect enabled
/sbin/uqmi -d /dev/cdc-wdm0 --network-register

My router is not detecting the modem. What should I do?

Try the following commands:

usbmode -l

It should respond with a message about your USB device is detected. If it does, issue the next command. If it doesn't, you might want to get help from the forum.

usbmode -s

Then wait for the modem to get issued an IP from your ISP.

No serial or network device is present (/dev/ttyUSB, /dev/cdc-wdm)

You may need to install the missing packages

opkg install kmod-usb-net-qmi-wwan kmod-usb-serial-option kmod-usb-serial-qualcomm
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  • Last modified: 2024/06/09 16:00
  • by andrewz