How to get your laptop online with a Windows Mobile phone
25th Oct 2009 | 10:00
For when there's no free Wi-Fi
Internet tethering using Windows Mobile
Internet roaming with your laptop has made portable computing what it is, yet 3G add-on cards are expensive and free public Wi-Fi isn't guaranteed.
But if you're running a phone with Windows Mobile, you can turn it into the modem that your laptop needs to connect to the internet anywhere.
Using a phone in this way is known as internet tethering, and although most smartphones can be tethered, those running Windows Mobile find it much easier to use, thanks to built-in Internet Sharing.
The most recent Windows Mobile devices come with an enhancement to the operating system. Internet Sharing can be found on the Programs menu and is a straightforward way to route your mobile device internet connection through to your PC or laptop.
An exercise once fraught with connectivity issues can be done with the minimum of fuss, however the quality of the web pages might be reduced, while your connection speed is at the mercy of the strength and type of signal you receive from location to location.
Using this method of connection while in transit – for example on a train – can be problematic, as your Windows Mobile device connects and disconnects to and from a vast number of transmitters and relays, but it's certainly useable enough and cheap enough to make use of.
Find a phone that fits Internet tethering using Windows Mobile depends on what version of the operating system you're using. See the walkthrough below for details using Windows Mobile 6.1.
Any smartphone running Windows Mobile will allow Wi- Fi access for the phone itself (so you can browse websites on the phone or set up Windows Live Messenger, for example), but some carriers block the FTP protocol, so if you have plans to upload files to a web server while using Internet Sharing, you may face a stumbling block.
This is particular problem if you intend to work from your laptop while tethered, as your data can be restricted, so always check with your provider first.
Web page and image quality can also be affected by the network compressing images. This is the phone carrier managing the bandwidth, but it can restrict the sort of tasks you can complete.
On the cost side, you need to contact your provider about your roaming data rates for connecting to the internet. Since the iPhone introduced all-inclusive internet use with O2, other phone companies have followed suit on a variety of phones that include Windows Mobile.
CONNECTION CHOICE:You can set your default web connections for a Windows Mobile phone in Internet Sharing > Settings
It's also not uncommon to pay something like 50p to use tethered internet (for example with Vodafone), but remember there are acceptable use policies attached to all phone contracts, which means heavy downloading incurs extra costs. It's always a good idea to check with your network before tethering, as well.
If tethering a mobile to your laptop so you can use the web seems like a good idea, but you don't have a Windows Mobile phone, go to here to see the latest handsets. HTC, Samsung, Acer and Toshiba lead the way in Windows Mobile-based devices, and tethering will be supported.
Walkthrough: set up internet sharing
1. Launch internet sharing
Make sure your device has a SIM card installed and that you have a GPRS/EDGE/3G signal. Tap Start ➜ Programs ➜ Internet Sharing. Under PC Connection you can select either USB or Bluetooth PAN. Choose USB.
2. Choose data connection
Under Network Connection, tap the down arrow to choose the data connection for your provider. If your device hasn't been set up with a data connection, tap Menu ➜ Connection Settings on the Internet Sharing screen and add a name for it.
3. Attach cable and connect
Attach the USB cable to your computer and Windows Mobile device, then select the Connect option. Your laptop will acknowledge the connection with a series of "Found New Hardware" messages. You should now be able to surf the internet.
4. Registry fix
If you're having trouble connecting, the OS on your phone may need a registry fix. You may not find the Network Connection option on the Internet Sharing screen, so install a registry editor, such as PHM Registry Editor.
5. Recheck connection on laptop
Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_ MACHINE ➜ Comm ➜ InternetSharing ➜ Settings. Delete the ForceCellConnection Key (press and hold your finger/stylus on it). Exit the Registry Editor, then attempt to reconnect.
Tethering via Bluetooth
Bluetooth is a short-range wireless communications technology that's built into pretty much every smartphone and laptop. Devices with Bluetooth capabilities can exchange information over a distance of about ten metres without requiring a physical connection, so it's an ideal technology for modem use, too.
For the computer to use the internet connection of your device, activate Internet Sharing on your device, then set up a Bluetooth Personal Area Network (PAN) between the computer and your mobile phone.
On your device, turn on Bluetooth and set it to visible mode by following the steps in 'To turn Bluetooth on and make your device visible'.
Now initiate a Bluetooth partnership from your device (this procedure varies on every phone). Tap Start ➜ Programs ➜ Internet Sharing. Select Bluetooth PAN as the PC Connection. From the Network Connection list, select the name of the connection that your device uses to connect to the internet, and tap Connect.
Now, on your computer, set up a Bluetooth Personal Area Network (PAN) with your device. For Windows Vista, click Start ➜ Control Panel ➜ Network and Internet ➜ Network and Sharing Center. Now click Manage network connections and then under Personal Area Network, double-click Bluetooth Network Connection.
In the Bluetooth Personal Area Network Devices dialogue box, select your device, then click Connect.
On the Internet Sharing screen on your device, check that a connected status message is displayed. This indicates that your computer has been successfully connected to the internet using your device as a Bluetooth modem.
First published in Windows: The Official Magazine Issue 35
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