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Friday, August 7, 2009

How to Set Up Laptop Wireless Internet Access Through Your Cellphone [Windows]


Ever since I first purchased my Windows Mobile device, I’ve been obsessed with getting the most out of my unlimited data plan. However, as an online writer, there are times when I simply have to get on the Internet with my laptop even when I may be hundreds of miles away from the nearest Internet connection.

Luckily, if you have a Windows Mobile device and you’ve signed up for an unlimited data plan through your cellular provider, then you’ve got an excellent option to set up your laptop wireless Internet access through your cellphone from anywhere you have a cellular connection.

James recently reviewed a cool app called JoikuSpot Light, which transforms your mobile phone into an Wi-Fi hot-spot. Without a doubt, JoikuSpot is probably the best solution.

However, if you aren’t able to get JoikuSpot working on your device and there are no other similar options available, you may find yourself pulling out your USB cable and trying to remember how you configured your Cellphone to serve as an Internet modem for your laptop. In this article, I’m going to offer Windows Mobile users an easy step by step guide that you can refer to any time you need to configure laptop wireless Internet access through your cellphone.

The following procedure is grouped into three steps. First, setting up the laptop and the cellphone for Internet sharing, rather than connecting via an application like ActiveSync.

Second, configuring both the laptop and the cellphone for the Internet connection, and finally, initializing the connection. Once you’ve completed steps 1 and 2, you’ll never have to do them again. The next time you want to access the Internet with your cellphone you simply “redial,” and you’re online.

This particular setup is based on the HTC manufactured series of windows mobile devices. In my case I still use the now-ancient HTC Cingular 8125, however these steps work for the later models (and most Windows Mobile devices will also be similar).

Step 1: Getting Things Ready

The first thing that you need to do before you can establish a laptop/modem connection is to kill the current application that’s handling communications between your laptop and cellphone. In my case, I’m running ActiveSync, so I kill that process using the Task Manager.

For ActiveSync, you just find wcescomm.exe and kill the process. If you’re particular Windows Mobile device uses another application, you’ll need to find the process name and make sure that you kill it.

Secondly, you’ll need to also shut down the communications software on your phone. In the case of ActiveSync, in Windows Mobile you go to Start -> Settings -> System -> Memory -> Running Programs, and then if ActiveSync is listed you’ll need to stop the process.

Once you’ve stopped the communications software on both the laptop and Windows Mobile phone, you’re ready to establish the connection between the laptop and phone as an Internet modem.

Step 2: Connecting The Cellphone As a Modem

The only real configuration required in Windows Mobile in order to set up your device as an Internet modem is to enable the “Modem Link.” The Modem Link configuration can be found by going to Start -> Programs.

Once you’re inside the Modem Link configuration, just change the Connection setting to USB. It’s likely that your other settings are already configured, however if they are not just make sure that the Access point name has the name of the connection you configured on your mobile device for Internet access. When everything looks good, click “Activate” at the bottom, and the “Status” at the top should change to “Active.”

If your device is already connected to your laptop, you’ll get the “Found New Hardware” wizard pop-up immediately. If you’re not yet plugged in, then now’s the time to do it.

Just make sure that you select to install from a specific location so that you’ll have the option to manually select your driver file. Click next.

On the next screen, you’ll click the browse button and go to the folder where the driver file is located. In my particular case with the Cingular 8125, and for most HTC mobile devices, you’ll need the USBMDM.INF driver file as well as the HTC USB Modem Dialer application. Both are offered as a free download from Download the zip file and put them wherever you’ll remember.

Then in the Windows Wizard screen above, browse to the directory where you extracted the INF file. If your Windows Mobile device is non-HTC, check with the manufacturer for a USB modem driver for your device.

The Wizard will recognize the device. Depending on your particular device and the version of the driver, you may see the error message above. Just click “Continue Anyway.”

Finally, the driver’s installed and you’re ready to start using your new Mobile USB Modem anytime you want to, and anywhere you have a cellular signal!

Step 3: Initializing the Internet Connection

To establish your new mobile Internet connection using your laptop, run the executable that you downloaded from the link above. Regardless of your device or your cellular carrier, you’ll typically always need to enter a User Name and Password. You can access that information (if you don’t already know it from setting up Internet use on your mobile device) by contacting your cellular provider and asking for the User Name and Password to use with your Internet data plan.

Enter those details into the USB modem dialer, and after a few moments it’ll inform you that you’re now connected. Yes, that means that at this moment, even while you’re sitting in the middle of the lake with a fishing pole in one hand, your laptop is now connected to the Internet via your cellphone signal. It may not be lightning fast – but when you’re desperate to submit your latest article (or check on your team’s latest game results), sometimes such a connection is all you need.

Have you ever configured your laptop with an Internet connection through your cellphone? What configuration or software tools did you use to accomplish the task? Share your insight in the comments section below.

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