This tutorial walks through connecting a Raspberry Pi to the internet via cellular using a Huawei USB modem.

Raspberri Pi photo

Before starting, make sure you have the following components available:

  • Raspberry Pi 2 Model B (or newer)
  • 8GB or greater MicroSD card
  • 2.4A USB power supply and cable
  • USB cellular modem such as Huawei’s MS2131 or E303
  • Hologram SIM card
  • Monitor with HDMI input
  • USB Mouse and Keyboard

The SIM card and USB modem are both available from the Hologram store.

This tutorial requires the use of the GUI (which means monitor, keyboard, and mouse). It also requires you initially connect the Pi to the internet via Ethernet or Wi-Fi in order to download software packages.

Setup Instructions

Activate Your SIM

If you haven’t already, create a Hologram account to manage your devices and billing.

From the Hologram Dashboard, click the Activate SIM button in the top-right corner.

SIM activation form

Every SIM card has an 18-22 digit unique ID printed on it. Enter your SIM’s ID in the activation form.

Then, choose your data plan and zone according to your needs. If you aren’t sure which plan is right for you, start with pay-as-you-go. See our pricing page for more details on plans and zones.

Set up the Pi

Download and install the Raspbian image to your micro SD card following the instructions on the Raspberry Pi site.

For the initial configuration, connect the Pi directly to a keyboard and monitor, and connect to the internet via Ethernet or Wi-Fi. After you’ve confirmed that the cellular connection is working, you can then run it “headless” anywhere that has cellular coverage.

Connect with the USB modem

Open the terminal application to get to a command line interface, and follow the instructions in our USB modem guide.

After completing the setup, disable the Pi’s other network interfaces to ensure that all network communication goes over cellular:

sudo ifconfig wlan0 down
sudo ifconfig eth0 down

Then, test your connection by pinging

ping -c3

If you don’t receive any errors, you are now connected to the internet via the Hologram network!

SSH instructions

Now that your Raspberry Pi is connected to the internet via cellular, you may wish to log into it via SSH. This requires some extra setup compared to SSH over a LAN.

Establish an inbound tunnel with Spacebridge

By default, the Hologram network blocks inbound connections to cellular devices. In order to connect to your Pi with SSH, you’ll need to relay the connection through Hologram’s servers using the Spacebridge service.

Enable tunneling for your SIM in the Hologram Dashboard, and use the Spacebridge client to forward a local port to the device’s port 22 (the standard SSH port). The Spacebridge guide describes this process in more detail.

With the Spacebridge client running, you can now SSH to your Raspberry Pi by connecting to localhost on the port you’re forwarding to (e.g. 5000).

Linux and MacOS include a built-in command line SSH client, so from a terminal you can simply run:

ssh -p 5000 pi@localhost

And enter the default Raspbian password ‘raspberry’ when prompted.

On Windows, download PuTTY and open a session with hostname ‘localhost’, and port 5000 (or the local port you configured). When prompted, enter the username ‘pi’ and password ‘raspberry’.