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The multiplatform Bible of using your handset as a modem

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Menneisyys

Menneisyys

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Now that I’ve become a proud owner of a super-mobile HP TC1100 Tablet PC, using mobile devices (smart phones) as external modems have became essential for me. Up until now, I’ve done most of my Web browsing, YouTube watching outdoors with some of my mobile devices. Having multiple mobile Internet access subscriptions, at times, I’ve used several of them at the same time – for example, watching a YouTube clip on my Nokia N95 while checking my mail on my BlackBerry; therefore, modem usage wasn’t that important for me. Now, the situation has completely changed: I take my HP almost everywhere, thanks to its (and the computer case’s) low weight and, of course, need (cellular and, preferably as fast as possible, that is, HSDPA) Internet connection everywhere. This was the most important driver for my scrutinizing all the possible solutions and comparing them battery life-wise to know how I can maximize battery life. Another driver was the brand new Internet / Connection Sharing category I’ve created in the Smartphone & Pocket PC magazine Best Software Awards 2008: with brand new titles / categories out there, I prefer to give my readers a very thorough review of them so that they see what the new categories are all about and why I've created them in the first place. Finally, I wanted to publish a greatly updated sequel to my previous, related articles and tutorials (see the Appendix for links).

This Bible is multiplatform, as with many of my recent, other tutorials and roundups: in addition to Windows Mobile, I also discuss Symbian s60v3 and BlackBerry. Please don’t come telling me "Why one Bible for all these operating systems and why don’t you break this into three separate articles?" The answer is manageability: with three separate articles, I’d need a lot more time managing, updating, quickly editing, changing them in the future. Also, the stuff I discuss has cross-references; for example, in the Symbian s60v3 and BlackBerry sections, I refer back to the Windows Mobile section. Separating this info, also meaning reusing the same sections, into separate articles would have been a pretty complicated task. Finally, if you have smart phones you’d like to utilize as modems with not only one operating system, you’ll certainly welcome having all the information in one place, not needing to find my other, related articles. Just skip the sections not discussing your particular operating system if you disagree with my approach.

(Incidentally, now that even Smartphone & Pocket PC magazine announced they would start covering the iPhone with a dedicated paper(!)mag, you may ask when I start doing the same. First, I'm European and, as you may already know, it's far harder for us to get an officially (!!) unlocked phone here. It's only now that Finland, at last, has become one of the countries where iPhones are sold that I can buy such a phone without having to travel to another country. Too bad it seems it won't be unlocked, which is plain unacceptable for me. That is, I may need to rely on factory-unlocked phones imported from Italy. And it still isn't known how much they would cost. Just a comparison: in Finland, the locked TeliaSonera 8GB model costs 477€, including the 24*1,99€ of the cheapest 24-month Minun Sonera contract. In Italy, the unlocked iPhone costs about the same - but that's in Italy. I wouldn't buy a locked iPhone because, however much unlocking works just great now, it's in no way guaranteed this will be true of future firmware revisions. All in all, I'm still not sure whether I am able to purchase the iPhone 3G or not.)

As you’ll see, using current smart phones may prove better, power consumption-wise on the notebook side, than the currently used USB or PCMCIA modems – or the built-in WAN support (HSDPA modem) in some higher-end notebooks and UMPC’s like the Lenovo Thinkpad X300. If you use an external smartphone not taking any charge from the USB port like a Nokia N95 tethered to your notebook, you can increase your notebook’s battery life by 5…40% (depending on the notebook used, the CPU load etc.) because, in general, the power usage difference can be as high as two Watts. I very thoroughly discuss these questions as well in the notebook power consumption-related sections.

1.1 Setting up the connection

In here, I explain how you can set up the connection from Windows-based desktop (notebook etc.) computers. On non-Windows client machines, the situation is pretty much the same if you plan to connect to Bluetooth (BT) Dial-Up Networking (DUN) (or, with the now-rare Widcomm BT stack, BT Personal Area Network (PAN)) or Wi-Fi connections; consequently, I don’t spend much time on it. I can, however, publish a Vista update if I receive a lot of feedback asking me to do so.

In the next three main sections, I explain the three ways (USB cable, Bluetooth DUN / PAN and Wi-Fi) you can tether your smart phone to your desktop PC – or, of course, other smart phones, PDA’s or wireless-enabled gaming consoles. I don’t discuss infrared connections (IrDA) because very few current Windows Mobile smart phones support them any more. On Symbian and BlackBerry, where IrDA is still very common, you still don’t really want to use them because of the slow speed. (Very few – if at all – smart phones use Fast Infrared [FIR]; the rest only operate at 112 kbps at most. Even Bluetooth is much faster, let alone cabled (USB) and Wi-Fi connections.)

1.1.1 USB

In the first subsection, I explain the most power-saving approach: tethering smart phones acting as modems (from now on, "modems") to your notebook. (From now on, I refer to the client as a "notebook". Please note that it can be anything: a desktop PC needing cellular Internet connectivity; a UMPC or even a non-Windows-based mobile device. For example, I’ve successfully used Symbian smart phones using a Windows Mobile modem - and vice versa. That is, it, the client, doesn’t even need to have a desktop operating system to be able to use the Internet connection of the modem. I even provide compatibility info in the main charts below on using smart phone clients.)

As USB connectivity requires no wireless connections (Bluetooth or Wi-Fi) between the modem and your notebook, in cases, it can be the most power-efficient solution on both the notebook and the modem side. Using Bluetooth decreases battery life by, in general, some 2...20% on both the notebook and the smart phone side. Using Wi-Fi can have an even more dramatic impact on the battery life, particularly those of some Symbian smart phones like the Nokia N95, where the battery life can be reduced by 50…70% if you opt for going for Wi-Fi.

Note that as it’s only desktop operating systems (Linux, Windows, Mac OS X) that have USB drivers and very-very few mobile devices (like the HTC x7500 / x7510 Advantage and the HP iPAQ 21x) have hardware USB host functionality, you can’t use USB tethering (cabling) between other smart phones or gaming consoles and modems. Also note that tethering has another major problem: the cable itself, which, in cases, can really hamper the usability, mobility etc. of the notebook, particularly with truly handheld UMPC’s and small Tablet PC’s often rotated between portrait and landscape orientation in "slate" (no-keyboard) mode. For example, look at the TC1100-in-use shots in my last Misc news article showing an external USB HSDPA modem. The shots certainly show how awkward it is to use USB cabling in a Tablet PC, particularly if you plan to walk around with them (the typical healthcare Tablet PC usage) and/or plan to rotate it while keeping it in your hand. Now, think of walking around with a cable or, even worse, a USB modem on a short cable sticking out from the tablet PC, swinging all the way around and/or getting caught by obstacles like doorhandles.

In the latter cases, you will want to prefer a wireless tethering solution (Bluetooth or Wi-Fi) between your modem and notebook.

1.1.1.1 Windows Mobile

As with the case of Bluetooth, there’s a huge difference between how old(er) and new(er) Windows Mobile modems behave. The former constitute all modems running an operating system before WM5 AKU3. (This major OS uprade was released in Autumn 2006; see THIS for more info on its networking if interested. Note that the article is pretty technical and is not required for the understanding of the current Bible.)

WM5 AKU3 has completely (!) changed the way Windows Mobile modems act: Internet Sharing has been introduced and the old approach entirely abandoned. It’s entirely different, both when used over USB and Bluetooth.

Note that some unofficial, "cooked" WM 6+ ROM’s (for example, the latest, 7.7 version of Tomal’s HTC Universal ROM) support both approaches – that is, not only the newer Internet Sharing-based one, but also the older, standard approach. It's also possible to "hack" the "old" approach to some (not all!), current devices - see THIS for more info.

1.1.1.1.1 The Pre-WM5 AKU3 approach

(1, note that you don't need ActiveSync to be installed for this to work. You can, of course, install it.)

2, on the phone, go to Modem Link or Wireless Modem. On some MS Smartphones (for example, the HTC Oxygen / s310), the latter is inside the "Accessories" folder.

3a, in the first, press Activate (left softkey) after making sure USB is selected in the topmost "Connection" drop-down menu and the right access point name in the bottom-most "Access point name" one:

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3b, in the second, press Menu (right softkey) and, inside the menu (after making sure USB is selected in the "Connection" list), 1 Start:

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4, now, connect the phone to the desktop. The latter will ask for a driver, which is a single INF file. Just unzip THIS file to a subdirectory anywhere and pass its path to the driver set-up dialog.

5, after the driver has been installed, start USBModem_Dialer.exe, which can also be found in the above ZIP file. You will only need to change the APN string in there, unless your APN is the same as the default "Internet". (Several GSM operators, for example, T-Mobile in several countries like the U.K., use "Internet" as the APN. With them, you won’t need to change this.) Unfortunately, you’ll need to repeat this every time you restart USBModem_Dialer.exe. After doing this, press Dial and voila – the connection is built up.

Note that you don’t necessarily need USBModem_Dialer.exe. THIS tutorial explains how you can create a "true" connection link on your desktop. It also has the advantage of not having to enter the APN every time you start a connection and that auto connection initialization (for example, from inside Internet Explorer) can also take place. On the other hand, it requires a bit more work to set up.

1.1.1.1.2 The WM5 AKU3+ / WM6 / WM6.1 approach

1, start Internet Sharing on the phone

2, click Connect (the left softkey), making sure "USB" is selected in the upper and an already-defined network connection is selected in the lower, "Network Connection" drop-down list:

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3, connect the USB cable; the client desktop PC will automatically notice the new network. No other desktop-side clicking or starting of apps is necessary.

1.1.1.2 Symbian

1, make sure you set up Nokia PC Suite on your notebook. Start it.

2, on the phone, go to Tools / Settings / Connection / Packet data and edit Access point:

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3, now, by clicking the "Connect to the Internet" (the uppermost one in the right) icon in Nokia PC Suite, you can initiate the connection:

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Note that, as with the pre-WM5 AKU3 USB case with Windows Mobile, you can also avoid using applications - here, Nokia PC Suite - for dialing in if you use some standalone modem drivers. They're available over the Web; run a Google search to find them. See for example THIS for a N95-related discussion and THIS for modem drivers for some old models.

Also note that, once you install Nokia PC Suite, it'll also install a driver called Nokia USB Modem in the system, which will already be accessible from New Connection Wizard; that is, if you set up a connection (by, basically, just providing *99# as the pseudo dial number) using this modem, you no longer will be forced to use Nokia PC Suite for dialing in every time you need to set up a connection. See section 1.1.2.1.1.2 for more info.

1.1.1.3 BlackBerry

First, you’ll need to install BlackBerry Desktop Software (any version over 4.1; I've tested this with the latest, 4.5 version) in order to set up a virtual modem driver using the name "Standard modem". It’ll be accessible in Start / Settings / Control Panel / Phone and Modem Options. If you can’t find it there, reinstall BlackBerry Desktop Software.

Go there, select Standard modem and click Properties:

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Go to the Advanced tab and enter your init string as is explained in section 1.1.2.3:

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After this, you’ll need to set up a new modem using the usual Start / Settings / Network Connections / New Connection Wizard as is explained in the second half of 1.1.2.1.1. Here, of course, you’ll need to select "Standard modem":

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Everything else is done in exactly the same way as under other operating systems: please refer to section 1.1.2.1.1.2.

(Also see THIS for a picture-less tutorial.)

1.1.2 Bluetooth

1.1.2.1 Windows Mobile


As with USB-based, wired tethering, the approach to Bluetooth-based modem usage mostly depends on the operating system version. Hence the two subsections that follow.

1.1.2.1.1 The Pre-WM5 AKU3 approach

Setting up a modem and a connection is a two-step approach. First, in Phone and Modem Options, you add a modem (by, for example, pairing the modem with the notebook). Then, using the name of the modem provided by the system, you set up a connection (with a real - or, as is the case with cellular connections like GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA etc., pseudo - phone number) in New Connection Wizard.

Knowing the difference is very important as it's in Phone and Modem Options that you can look up the names of your hardware modems connected to your desktop (and, incidentally, it's in here that you can define the so-called init strings, which will be of extreme importance with BlackBerry modems.)

The following two subsections show how Phone and Modem Options and New Connection Wizard need to be used. Note that I'll very often refer to particularly the second, New Connection Wizard-related section as it's with it that you will need to configure your non-Windows Mobile-specific connections as well. This is why I'll refer to it from the Symbian- and the BlackBerry sections too.

1.1.2.1.1.1 Bluetooth pairing the phone with the desktop in Phone and Modem Options

1, make the Bluetooth on your phone discoverable. On touchscreen-enabled Pocket PC phones, it’s done in the following way:

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On touchscreen-less MS Smartphones, by selecting Discoverable in Bluetooth Settings:

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2, go to Start / Settings / Control Panel / Phone and Modem Options. (Alternatively, you can quickly get here by entering telephon.cpl on your desktop in any command line - for example, Start / Run or Total Commander). Go to the Modems tab and click Add:

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Click Next. The OS will search for a dial-up modem. In the following screenshot, it displays two. Of them, I select SPV C100 (the Orange name for the HTC s310 / Oxygen MS Smartphone):

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Press OK; now, enter a passkey; for example, 0000. (Note that many tutorials state this should be as complicated as possible. This is completely wrong – the passkey is a one-time passkey only and can, therefore, be very simple like 0000):

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On the phone, just acknowledge the message about being connected; then, enter the same code (0000) as on the desktop and press Next / Done (the left softkey) several times. On the desktop, just press Finish. You'll be presented a dialog like this:

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There, I've highlighted the changes compared to the state before pairing the phone with the notebook; for your convenience, it was the following:

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It's this modem entry that you will need to refer to upon configuring a connection in New Connection Wizard, which is the subject of the the following subsection.

1.1.2.1.1.2 Configuring a connection in New Connection Wizard

Now, on the desktop, go to Start / Settings / Network Connections / New Connection Wizard. After the initial Next, just press Next (that is, just leave the default "Connect to the Internet" intact):

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and, on the following screen, select "Set up my connection manually", followed by Next:

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The next dialog screen should be left alone (that is, the default "Connect using a dial-up modem" will be just fine):

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On the next screen, untick the uppermost checkbox (if there’re more than one entries) and check the one ("Modem - Standard Modem over Bluetooth link (COM4)") that has just been added in Phone and Modem Options:

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Note that, in some cases (particularly when setting up Windows Mobile phones as modems), there may two new entries Phone and Modem Options creates upon pairing the modem with the notebook. That is, Windows has the tendency of creating two modem entries upon discovering the first Bluetooth DUN modem if it's a Windows Mobile one. In these cases, just tick in one and if it doesn’t work (because it’s linked to another phone), just edit the connection, untick this one and tick another one. To do this, in the dial-up dialog (see the last screenshot in this subsection), just press Properties and, in the uppermost modem selector list ("Connect using"), just untick the current one and select the other as can be seen HERE. A case like this is shown in the following screenshot:

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Now, enter the name the shortcut / connection should be called. It can be anything; in this case, I used ‘vodafone’:

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After pressing the Next button, enter *99# as the phone number:

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In the next username/ password input field, with most mobile operators, you don’t need to fill in anything. You, on the other hand, might want to untick "Make this the default internet connection" if you also have other, more preferred connections. Press Next:

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On the final screen, it’s worth ticking in "Add a shortcut to this connection to my desktop" so that you can quickly find it (not just under Start / Settings / Network Connections) to connect:

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After pressing Finish, the dial-in dialog appears. Just leave everything alone, except for ticking in "Save the user name and password for the following users":

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Just press Dial and the connection is established.

Note that with both Pocket PC’s and MS Smartphones you’re required to have a connection set up for this to work. Otherwise, the system won’t even know the server (the APN) it should connect to. That is, if you encounter mysterious "Error 734: The PPP link control was terminated" error messages upon trying to dial out, make double-sure you’ve defined the right connections and that they do work in the built-in Internet Explorer Mobile. Note that this isn’t necessary with, for example, the pre-WM5 AKU3 Windows Mobile USB approach – there, you don’t even need to configure an access point on your handheld.

1.1.2.1.2 The WM5 AKU3+ / WM6 / WM6.1 approach

This will be MUCH easier than with the BT DUN approach.

1, start Internet Sharing on the phone

2, click Connect (the left softkey), making sure "Bluetooth PAN" is selected in the upper and an already-defined network connection is selected in the lower, "Network Connection" drop-down list. Internet Sharing will automatically make your phone discoverable.

3, start Start / Settings / Network Connections / Bluetooth Network Connection on the notebook. Click Add:

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4, On the next screen, check "My device is set up and ready to be found" and click Next:

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5, After the desktop finds the BT PAN-capable phones, it lists them. Select the one you’d like to connect to (in this case, "Werner Ruotsalainen"):

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6, Click Next. On the next screen, just enter the passcode and do the same on the phone – in exactly the same way as explained in the previous subsection on setting up BT DUN.

7, after the successful pairing process, you’re returned to the Start / Settings / Network Connections / Bluetooth Network Connection dialog; now, it already lists the connection we’ve just set up:

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Just select it and click Connect; the connection will be automatically set up.

1.1.2.2 Symbian

Making Symbian work is done in exactly the same way as the BT DUN in Windows Mobile – see section 1.1.2.1.1. In Symbian, you need to make the phone visible under Tools / Bluetooth / My Phone’s Visibility – make sure it reads "Shown to all".

1.1.2.3 BlackBerry

It’s pretty easy to set up a Bluetooth modem under BlackBerry. Basically, it’s exactly the same as with Windows Mobile and Symbian; the only difference is that you MUST supply the so-called "init string" to the phone. Without it, it simply won’t work. Note that there is an official, but long-outdated and, therefore, not recommended tutorial HERE.

1. Start Bluetooth Settings on the BlackBerry; select "Allow another device to find me" as is depicted in the following screenshot:

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2. On the notebook, from Phone and Modem Options, add the device as usual: Add, search for the device, select it:

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Pair the BlackBerry with your handset:

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Don’t leave yet for Start / Settings / Network Connections / New Connection Wizard, unlike with the other two operating systems! Here comes the tricky part especially important with BlackBerries. For the new modem records just created in the initial modem list under the Modem tab of Phone and Modem Options, we need to define the init string. To do this, select the just-added record and click Properties:

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There, go to the Advanced tab and enter the init string of the form

+CGDCONT=1,"IP","your APN"

where your APN is dependent on your wireless operator. In the following case, it’s "Internet" (that of T-Mobile):

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Now, go to Start / Settings / Network Connections / New Connection Wizard and set up your connection as usual, as is already explained in the second half of section 1.1.2.1.1. Everything needs to be done as is explained there.

1.1.3 Wi-Fi

There may be cases you will want to prefer connecting via Wi-Fi to your smart phone to be used as a modem. Some of these are as follows:

- you want to prefer a cable-less solution because, for example, cables make using your gear awkward. This is a very common case with UMPC’s and tablet PC’s. With them, a USB cable make mobility much harder.

- your notebook (or any other Wi-Fi capable client) doesn’t have Bluetooth (or, for that matter, USB), ruling out all the other connection methods. Currently, with recent notebook models, this happens much more frequently than the lack of Wi-Fi.

- Bluetooth is plain slow for the line speed of your modem. This may be the case even with UMTS (see my benchmarks with the HTC Universal), let alone HSDPA, where, using current gear (very fast modems like the Nokia N95) and currently attainable line speeds (about 2000-2500 kbps for an extended time), the difference can be three- or four-fold.

Unfortunately, none of the mobile operating systems support Wi-Fi tethering connections out of the box. However, nothing is lost! There’re several solutions for both Symbian and Windows Mobile that do what you want; some even free. In the following, I explain all these solutions.

Another note: In addition to the differences (that is, except for the possible power usage issues, advantages), the Wi-Fi approach has another very important advantage over the traditional ones: it allows for more than one clients connecting. All the reviewed Wi-Fi sharing applications support the connection of at least five notebooks (clients) over Wi-Fi. This also means that, except for the somewhat weaker security (some of these apps only support WEP, not more advanced encryption forms) and the need for using ad-hoc connections and not the traditional Access Point mode, they can fully replace the currently still very expensive (around 150-200 euros / dollars at least) 3G hardware routers like the $699+ (!) Proxicast's LAN-Cell 2 3G Cellular Router, the TDT Router Series, the D-Link 3G Mobile Router DIR-451, the Vodafone / Linksys / Cisco Systems' 3G / UMTS Router and the 2N® OfficeRoute for UMTS network. These Wi-Fi sharing apps can almost entirely make the (expensive) hardware routers unnecessary - all you need is a 3+G phone and a sharing app, and your mobile office, all your co-workers, is ready to have 3G access over 3+G.

First, I quickly explain how you can access your phones from Windows XP SP2+ as this info applies to all the available mobile phones and Wi-Fi applications running on them.

When you start a Wi-Fi server on your phone, it’ll create an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network. (Except for the free ICS Control on Windows Mobile, where this needs to be manually created.) Note: traditional Access Point-based networking doesn’t seem to work, even when some of the internet connection sharing apps do offer the ability to switch to Access Point mode. For example, in the Symbian (but not the Windows Mobile) version of WalkingHotSpot, you can, theoretically, switch to the other mode. However, it just won’t work.

To access these networks, on the notebook, all you need to do is going to Start / Settings / Network Connections / Wireless Network Connection and, probably after clicking "Refresh network list" in the upper left corner, highlight the mobile phone you’d like to connect to and, then, press Connect in the lower right corner:

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That’s all you need to do on the notebook side. Fortunately, with third-party apps, setting up the Wi-Fi network sharing on mobile phones are also very easy. Basically, the default settings will just do with all of them (unless you want to protect your share with a WEP key or want to change the name of your ad-hoc network): after invocation, you just press the "Start" or "Connect" button and you’re set – the ad-hoc network is started and your only task is finding it inside Wireless Network Connection on the desktop (see the previous screenshot) and just connecting to it by clicking Connect – again, as has already been explained above.

You may also want to ask whether using Wi-Fi results in a much worse battery life. On the modem side, it’s, unfortunately, true – both Windows Mobile and Symbian* platforms suffer from major battery life degradation if you opt for using Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth. I’ll show you a lot of real-world benchmarks later showing this.

*: I don’t know of similar Wi-Fi apps for BlackBerry and the current BB’s are all 2.75G – non-3+G – only, meaning Wi-Fi would be pretty much an overkill for them as the (theoretically) maximum attainable speed of non-EDR Bluetooth, 723 kbps, is well enough as it’s still far higher than the ~200 kbps practical maximum speed of the 2.75G EDGE. This is why BlackBerries are not discussed in here.

On the desktop / notebook side, the difference isn’t so pronounced. For example, with the HP TC1100 Tablet PC, there’s little difference in power usage between Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB-based access (assuming the latter doesn’t recharge the battery of the smartphone because, for example, it’s unable to – the case with the Nokia N95). That is, never ever think Wi-Fi equals much higher power consumption and much shorter laptop / notebook battery life. It’s simply not (always) true. In some of my measurements, Bluetooth DUN and PAN have even turned out to consume more power than Wi-Fi.

You may also want to ask how commonly used USB HSDPA modems like the Huawei E220 compare to wireless solutions as, as opposed to the wireless (cable-less) solution, it’s only the notebook battery that these modems draw the juice from. I’ve also made some thorough benchmarks (again, with the TC1100 and the Huawei E220 with the latest firmware) and found out that, on the whole, it resulted in an additional 1W of power consumption when continuously operating in HSDPA mode (and downloading a huge file) and 0.5W when idling, compared to the (on the whole, pretty much equal) Wi-Fi and the Bluetooth DUN / PAN figures. Compared to using a non-powered USB setup (benchmarked with the Nokia N95 acting as a USB HSDPA modem and disabled Wi-Fi / BT wireless on the tablet), the power usage difference was about 2 Watts while in transfer and about 1W when idling. Frankly, I expected considerably worse figures. Still, with a battery-friendly notebook (one that is continuously under 10W) – that is, at least a Pentium M / Centrino with low CPU load and not very high backlight level -, even these two Watts can mean as high as 20% battery life difference!

1.1.3.1 Windows Mobile

There are three alternatives for Windows Mobile: WalkingHotSpot (WHS), WMWifiRouter and ICS Control.

1.1.3.1.1 WalkingHotSpot (WHS)

WalkingHotSpot, which is already well-known on Symbian, is pretty much welcome on Windows Mobile. Apart from some (minor) differences like animation (which I find pretty much counter-productive, as it pretty much slows down navigating menus – the WHS folks promise a solution to the problem) and the lack of being able to make the server work in Access Point mode (which is pretty much redundant on Symbian as it just doesn’t work), the Windows Mobile version is exactly the same as on Symbian: you just start it, press Start and can already connect to it from up to four client devices. (Note that I've tested a non-public alpha version of the forthcoming, HTC Universal-compatible version 1.5. The currently available, at the time of writing, older WinMo version may be different from what I explain.)

It compares to the other contender in this category, WMWifiRouter, pretty well. The drawbacks (as of the current, 1.5 alpha) version are slightly (albeit not much) higher power consumption and the complete (!) lack of DMZ / port forwarding capabilities (please see THIS and THIS for an explanation; THIS, THIS and THIS also shows some real-world consequences of these problems). The latter means that, while all clients will work on the notebook, some specific functionality like RTSP streaming or Internet Relay Chat DCC chat / send initiation simply won’t work. If you plan to access your notebook in this way, for the time being, it’s really-really preferable going for WMWifiRouter instead. Or, ICS Control, if you don’t mind the somewhat less intuitive interface requiring some intricate knowledge of Windows Mobile networking.

1.1.3.1.2 WMWifiRouter

This (as of current, tested version, 1.07; note that at the time of writing not even closed betas of the forthcoming, major breakthrough version, 1.20 were available) is, currently, before the DMZ / port forwarding and the slightly higher power usage issues of WHS are fixed, without doubt the best Wi-Fi tool for Wi-Fi connection sharing, as long as you don’t want to learn how ICS Control needs to be configured. It’s commercial and is available HERE. While its starting / stopping the network connection can be a bit on the slow side compared to the alternatives (including WHS), this can certainly be lived with.

A very useful feature of WMWifiRouter is Crash recovery, which even "kicks in" at bootup time, checking everything is restored. Once it happened to me that the sharing phone no longer handed out local IP addresses to the clients and they, consequently, couldn’t access the Internet. (Interestingly, the desktop Windows XP SP3 didn’t display any error message; only Windows Mobile. I was lucky to have noticed the error message on my iPAQ 210 acting as a client; otherwise, I would have had a hard time finding out what the problem was.) Explicitly running crash recovery fixed the issue.

It has a LOT of goodies only fully-fledged, external access point hardware; for example, you can define port forwarding rules. (This is also supported by the free ICS Control, by the way.)

1.1.3.1.3 ICS Control

This free(!) title is way more complicated to use than the previous two titles for casual users. (For example, you need to manually enable Wi-Fi for Wi-Fi-based internet sharing to work – the previous two titles do this automatically.) However, once you learn to master it, you’ll find it pretty nice as it offers almost the same functionality as the above-mentioned, commercial titles. Sure, you don’t get for example usage statistics (which WMWifiRouter offers), but is still pretty nice. Also, it works on pre-WM5 AKU3 devices (WMWifiRouter and WHS only works on devices with WM5 AKU3 or later – that is, models that already have the new, Internet Sharing-based architecture).

People that started using Wi-Fi connection sharing before the user-friendly WMWifiRouter / WalkingHotSpot - that is, folks that followed my old tutorial - will surely find this application easy-to-use. Other users, however, might want to go for the commercial alternatives instead. If you’re a newbie and don’t want to learn the secrets of network configuration via ICS Control, prefer WMWifiRouter (or WalkingHotSpot, if its port forwarding / DMZ issues are fixed).

1.1.3.1.4 WinMo power consumption benchmarks

Below is a HTC Trinity (with the original, official WM5 AKU 3.3 ROM) showing the transfer of a 7.4Mbyte file (Firefox 3.0) via BT PAN first and, then, Wi-Fi (using WMWifiRouter) second.

Posted Image

As can clearly be seen, operating in Wi-Fi mode consumes way more power. The case is, incidentally, the same with the HTC Universal (running Tomal’s latest, 7.7 WM6.1 ROM). There, using Wi-Fi introduces about 150…200 mA additional Amperage, compared to the plain BT DUN / PAN or USB usage.

1.1.3.2 Symbian s60v3

There are two different products for the Symbian s60v3 operating system. (Note that, now that the competing Symbian platform, UIQ is officially declared as a dead-end, I don’t review UIQ products, only s60v3 ones.)

1.1.3.2.1 WalkingHotSpot

The Symbian version of this application, as with the Windows Mobile one, is pretty much recommended. It’s considerably better than the current, 2.0 version of JoikuSpot Premium, the most important alternative. Hope the bugs / problems of the latter will be fixed really soon.

Note that, as with the WinMo version, the trial version of WalkingHotSpot is severely restricted: if you have more than one device you’d like to use it with, you’ll only be able to do with the first one you use WHS with.

1.1.3.2.2 JoikuSpot Light / Premium

As with WMWifiRouter on Windows Mobile, it comes in two (a free Light and a commercial Premium) versions. Unfortunately, there’s absolutely no trial of the Premium version – this should be fixed. (Yes, I’ve long been pushing the importance of providing preferably time- but not functionality-limited versions of applications [but not necessarily games] so that prospective users can give them a try and don’t need to rely on sometimes overly biased, ad-like reviews. Of course, you won’t see any disguised advertisements from me of apps that don’t have a trial version at all. The mileage of some other reviewers, however, may vary.)

Posted Image

(Joiku Premium showing three clients connected)

The free(!!!) Light version is a perfect choice for anyone only wanting to browse the net and not use any kind of non-Web-based messengers (like MSN Messenger) or (again, non-Web-based) mailer applications trying to access the Net via the native POP3, IMAP and SMTP protocols. (Again and again, Web-based frontends will work.)

The commercial, just-released Premium, currently, as of version 2.0, compared to the Symbian version of WHS, has some drawbacks, which the otherwise excellent and overly user-oriented (it’s worth checking out their Web site – they have an excellent forum with a lot of customer service feedback) Joiku folks will hopefully soon fix.

1.1.3.2.3 Power consumption benchmarks

Below is a Nokia N95 Power Profiler screenshot showing the downloading of a 24Mbyte file, followed by some idling to see the idle power consumption. The four test setups are separated by a vertical white line. (Note that the white vertical line in exactly the center of the screen isn’t one of them.)

Posted Image

The cases are as follows:

1: N95 standard, built-in Bluetooth dial-up. The transfer speed was about one-third of that of the Wi-Fi / USB case; hence the much longer in-transfer section. Note that, after the transfer (during idling), the power consumption periodically fluctuated between ~0.25W (with backlight on) and 1.3W. Note that fluctuation isn’t necessarily the case in all cases – in another test, I’ve encountered far less fluctuation with BT DUN and far more with WHS. That is, pay more attention to the minimal power consumption.

2: WalkingHotSpot (WHS): as can be seen, during transfer, there is about 2.8W power consumption (I’ve made several more tests to make sure it’s indeed around 2.7…2.8W and is indeed much higher than with USB / BT DUN and definitely less than with Joiku Light); while idling, about 1.20W.

3: USB (using Nokia PC Suite to connect): slightly more power-consuming (but, of course, about 3… 3.5 times faster) transfer and a bit higher idling power consumption than with Bluetooth DUN; however, the latter doesn’t show idle fluctuation. (Again, don’t be mislead by fluctuation!)

4: Joiku Light (shows two transfer tests to make sure the speeds are correctly benchmarked): the highest (about 3.3W) in-transfer power consumption of all. There seems to be more fluctuation while idling – but, again, don’t be mislead by their frequency (with other benchmarks, there may me much fewer peaks).The minimal idle power consumption is about the same as with WHS – that is, about 1.20W. Note that I’ve repeated the tests with Joiku Premium, with, unfortunately, very similar results.

1.2 Charts

In this chapter, I provide you with two all-in-one charts for Symbian and Windows Mobile, comparing the individual techniques attainable speed, battery life etc.-wise. With Wi-Fi, I’ve also listed the available Wi-Fi internet sharing applications.

Note that the maximal download speeds, approximately 230 kbyte/s I've provided in the Symbian chart, has been measured in Vodafone Hungary's network, repeating the tests several times at different times of the day to make sure the results aren't affected by any HSDPA network congestion. Your mileage may vary - that is, you may have much less / much more HSDPA download speeds depending on your wireless operator, the average network congestion, the firmware version of your phone/modem (my Nokia N95 has the latest, v21 firmware) etc.

Note that I’ve also provided advanced information like putting the clients in a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) so that they can function as a server and whether Symbian / Windows Mobile clients are compatible with them. Again, you’ll want to read my previous articles for more info on what DMZ is and what the point in tethering another mobile device to a Symbian / WinMo / BlackBerry phone is.

Windows Mobile:

Posted Image
Posted Image
(in HTML format HERE)

Symbian:

Posted Image
(in HTML format HERE)

[1]: couldn’t test because the desktop Windows IRC client couldn’t join channels on clients – the other users saw the new user using Joiku Premium logged in, but the desktop IRC client of the latter didn’t display the new channel list window AND I couldn’t run the RTSP test on WinMo clients because of the lack of compatibility with client Windows Mobile devices

1.2.1 Verdict (only applies to Wi-Fi tethering!)

If you have a Symbian phone you'd like to use as a modem accessed through Wi-Fi, and you want to use other applications than just Web browsers and/or HTTP tunneling-capable messaging clients, go for WalkingHotSpot - at least for the time being, before the (current, as of version 2.0) bugs of JoikuSpot Premium are fixed and its power consumption is a bit lowered. If, on the other hand, you only want to browse the Web on the client(s), the free JoikuSpot Light might be the way to go if you don't deem it necessary to pay extra for WHS.

If you have a Windows Mobile phone, then, I recommend WMWifiRouter. While the direct (commercial and easy-to-use) alternative, WalkingHotSpot is indeed a sound product on Windows Mobile (too), I still consider WMWifiRouter better (lower power consumption, much more configuration features etc.), particularly in the light of the forthcoming, 1.20 version. That is, make sure you check out WMWifiRouter first.

Appendix

My previous, now-outdated and, as generic tutorials, not any more recommended articles (but for background / advanced info, you WILL want to read them) are as follows:

Another long-awaited breakthrough: dial-up Internet Sharing over Wi-Fi!

One of the BEST hacks of the year: Dial-up Networking Through Bluetooth Under WM5 AKU3 / WM6: at last, it’s WORKING, thanks to XDA-Dev folks (incl. me)!

The new dial-up networking model of the WM5 AKU3 – a must if you use your WM phones as modems

Using Pocket PC Phone Edition devices as modems via Bluetooth on notebooks - is it indeed as complicated as some state?

Use your Pocket PC Phone Edition as a modem for your other Pocket PC's! - a full tutorial

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#2
Menneisyys

Menneisyys

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UPDATE (Jun/05/2009): in the following update, I elaborate on

1. connecting via both PAN and DUN over Bluetooth (and Wi-Fi p2p) in Windows 7 (which is the same as in Windows Vista)
2. Symbian (Wi-Fi) news
3. Windows Mobile (Wi-Fi) news
4. what you should go for on the iPhone

1. Creating Bluetooth connections under Windows 7 (and Vista):

1.1 Creating DUN connections (everything but the later Windows Mobile phones)


As you will see, it's much easier and logical than under Windows XP. First, right-click the Bluetooth icon and select "Add a device".

Posted Image

Enter the auto-generated pairing number on your phone:

Posted Image

You'll be notified of a successful connection:

Posted Image

After this, the drivers will be installed. It's no problem if only the modem driver is found:

Posted Image

After this, right-click the Bluetooth icon and select Show Bluetooth Devices. Right-click the just-added phone and select Dial-up Networking / Create a dial-up connection:

Posted Image

Then, select "Standard modem over Bluetooth link":

Posted Image

After this, enter at least the pseudo dial-in number (in the screenshot, *99#) and make sure you give it a meaningful name (in the screenshot, T-Mobile BB):

Posted Image

After this, you're set: everything will work as expected. You can quickly access the connect icon by clicking the networking / wireless icon on the taskbar; just click the added modem connection(s) and select Connect:

Posted Image

Now, let's take a look at doing the same with BT PAN-based connections.

1.2 Creating PAN connections (newer WinMo phones with Internet Sharing)

First, right-click the Bluetooth icon and select "Add a device".

Posted Image

Don't be afraid of your device listed as a "Bluetooth Keyboard" - just click it and do the pairing (enter the auto-generated PIN on your phone). Don't be afraid of some drivers not being found either; the BT modem will be found, and that's all we need:

Posted Image

As with the simple BT DUN case, right-click the Bluetooth icon and select Show Bluetooth Devices. Right-click the just-added phone and select Connect Using / Access Point:

Posted Image

Before clicking this, make sure you do start Internet Sharing on your phone in BT PAN mode, though. The connection will be automatically initiated; after the initial home / public / work selection (common with all the other connection modes), you'll be directed right to the internet.

Note that, as opposed to the BT DUN (or, Wi-Fi) cases, you can only initiate a BT PAN connection from here; that is, Show Bluetooth Devices. BT PAN networks aren't listed in the traditional connectivity list; it only lists "real" modem connections (including BT DUN) and Wi-Fi networks.

1.3 Cancelling the default connection

I also need to speak a bit about cancelling the default connection. You may have noticed upon creating dial-up connections like BT DUN (NOT Wi-Fi or BT PAN ones) you're always asked about connecting via them if you don't have network connection and a program (for example, Skype) wants to connect to the net.

To get rid of these very annoying connection requests, (on Windows 7 / Vista) go to Network and Sharing Center (e.g., via Open Network and Sharing Center after pressing the wireless icon in the bottom-right bay). There, click Change adapter settings. Right-click the icon of your connection and select Cancel as Default Connection:

Posted Image

2. Symbian S60

I've also tested the latest Joikuspot Premium (2.5 for Symbian) and WalkingHotSpot [WHS] (3.0 for Symbian and 3.1 for Windows Mobile) versions.

On Symbian, Joikuspot 2.5 behaved pretty good. I no more had problems with connecting to IRC (as opposed to version 2.0); all my tests worked OK. Furthermore, now, if you download the Premium version, it offers a two-day trial mode. That's very nice! It's 100% working with the iPhone as a client; this must mean it's also compatible with the two iPod Touch versions. It's (still) incompatible with WinMo clients though (not a big problem). The only problem I've found was the constantly high power consumption (around 1.8-1.9W, using an UMTS / HSDPA network), even without any connected client.

WHS 3.0, still on Symbian, is still somewhat better in supporting some much rarer protocols. For example, in the IRC test, I could DCC a file to the client using WHS but not to Joiku. Also, not only the iPhone, but also the WinMo clients were able to use its Wi-Fi connection. Note that it still has the "four clients only" restriction - that is, if you want to connect to the internet with more than four clients. Nevertheless, JoikuSpot, particularly with its price having fallen to 15 Euros, is a very good (and cheaper) alternative.

There aren't notable differences in the power consumption of the two applications and, as has been emphasized, they're also compatible with Apple's Wi-Fi-enabled iPod Touch and iPhone devices. Neither of them offers the Access Point mode any more. (Not that it'd work - no wonder this has been removed.)

3. Windows Mobile

I've thoroughly tested the new versions of both WHS (3.10) and WMWifiRouter (1.35 build 850) on my HTC Universal with both the some-month-old Tomal 8.70 and the brand new Tomal 8.90 ROM.

WHS didn't really work using the Tomal 8.70 firmware; upon trying to connect to cellular network, it always displayed an error dialog (W002: Unable to connect, please check network settings). This may have been a misconfiguration issue. Under the Tomal 8.90 ROM, everything went just fine.

WMWifiRouter has received an ever nicer GUI in the meantime. It worked flawlessly. The only problem I've run into was my IBM Thinkpad t42p running Windows 7 RC1: under neither ROM version would it connect without connecting my iPhone 3G to the access point first; Windows 7 just displayed an error message of it being unable to connect. With the iPhone 3G connection being active, Windows 7 connected just fine. After having connected, I could safely disconnect my iPhone 3G; Windows 7 remained connected.

I've also tried to connect my Nokia N95 v30 first to see whether the Windows 7 connection is accepted when I use it for connecting first. It didn't work.

Note that this isn't a Windows 7-specific problem. I tried connecting to WMWifiRouter from my Windows 7 build 7000 (the first public beta) from my HP TC1100 - it worked flawlessly.

Of the two apps, WMWifiRouter is definitely the more capable. However, I still liked WHS better, simply because I could see all the time the state of the connected devices and the amount of data transferred. (Note that the latter is also displayed by Joiku on Symbian.)

3.1 Problems with the HP TC1100 under Windows XP TE

The peer-to-peer connections seem to be pretty unstable on my TC1100 running WinXP Pro Tablet Edition - it continuously disconnects after 3-4 minutes. (The same happens with both Windows Mobile and Symbian apps.) I haven't had problems like this under Windows 7 build 7000 running on exactly the same tablet. If you run into the same problem under XP TE, consider running another OS - at least when you must use any of these apps.

3.2 ICSControl

Note that I didn't want to play much with ICSControl 0.21, which hasn't been updated in the meantime. Just a quick tip: if it doesn't work (that is, nothing happens when you start the connection from inside ICS), then, ipsnat.dll may be missing from \Windows (like on the Universal). Make sure you install ICSControl by downloading THIS CAB file instead of the single EXE file linked to from the first post of the thread.

4. iPhone

The Apple iPhone can not only function as a client utilizing both Symbian and WinMo phones via p2p Wi-Fi connections - it can also act as a real modem. Unfortunately, in order to make this work, you must jailbreak your phone. You can download both applications from Cydia.

4.1 iPhoneModem 2.2.0

I don't really recommend this solution unless you absolutely can't afford the recommended one, PdaNet (see below). Unfortunately, you get what you pay for.

The commercial version ($9.99; PayPal) of this app supports e.g. running in the background. The trial version is useless: it displays a registration screen every 3-4 minute and, at the same time, disables modem functionality. It needs a desktop-side client (unlike PdaNet in Wi-Fi mode) to run to e.g. configure proxies and create the network.

It isn't a full solution but a proxy-based one, unlike PdaNet. Currently, DNS, HTTP, HTTPS and SOCKS proxies are supported; this means for example IRC won't run on a notebook using it.

4.2 PdaNet 1.52

This modem app should be the one to go for.

It's able to work over both Wi-Fi and USB. With Wi-Fi, it's able to serve not only desktop Windows and OS X clients, but also ones that are able to create p2p networks on their own. They include Windows Mobile clients. This means you can even access the Net on your Windows Mobile-based handheld if it only has Wi-Fi, using an external iPhone.

Currently, its only restriction is that, directly, only one client can use its Wi-Fi at a time, unlike with all the Symbian- and Windows Mobile-based solutions, which allow for four or even more clients at the same time. Note that you may be able to further share the net on the notebook or desktop computer it's connected to; I haven't tried to find out how this can be done. One thing is certain: if you try to connect to an already-connected p2p network between PdaNet and a notebook (or any other client), the previous client will be kicked off and the new client will be the one to have access to the Net.

It also supports USB mode (unlike iPhoneModem 2.2.0), which really helps the phone: Wi-Fi network sharing quickly eats thought the battery, which isn't the case with USB connection. After the desktop side client (PdaNet Desktop) installed, it minimizes itself to the desktop tray; you can quickly access it there (and exit / disconnect when the connection is not needed). Note that not any desktop-side app is needed when operating in Wi-Fi mode.

As with iPhoneModem, it also needs a desktop-side, pre-existing p2p network. There's no desktop-side client (unlike with iPhoneModem) to create this; however, the online tutorial dedicated to this question explains creating a p2p network on the desktop very well.

It can also run in the background - that is, you can safely press the Home button while running the app and continue for example browsing the web or playing. It uses little CPU time when running in the background.

The unrestricted trial is usable for 14 days; the regular price is $29. A bit steep, but, taken into account how much better it is than the proxy-based iPhoneModem, it's well worth the price.

Note that PdaNet has clients for all the mobile platforms (except Symbian S60), not only the iPhone. You won't want to get the Windows Mobile one (as opposed to the iPhone one) as all it does is simplifying connecting via the traditional methods. No Wi-Fi access point modes or anything like that. That is, stay away from the Windows Mobile version: if you need Wi-Fi, both WMWifiRouter and WalkingHotSpot are far better. And, if you need Bluetooth or USB, you can safely use the built-in, already-existing support in the operating system.

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#3
dbsimms63

dbsimms63

    Regular

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  • Devices:Verizon Omnia i910

UPDATE (Jun/05/2009): in the following update, I elaborate on

1. connecting via both PAN and DUN over Bluetooth (and Wi-Fi p2p) in Windows 7 (which is the same as in Windows Vista)
2. Symbian (Wi-Fi) news
3. Windows Mobile (Wi-Fi) news
4. what you should go for on the iPhone

1. Creating Bluetooth connections under Windows 7 (and Vista):

1.1 Creating DUN connections (everything but the later Windows Mobile phones)


As you will see, it's much easier and logical than under Windows XP. First, right-click the Bluetooth icon and select "Add a device".

Posted Image

Enter the auto-generated pairing number on your phone:

Posted Image

You'll be notified of a successful connection:

Posted Image

After this, the drivers will be installed. It's no problem if only the modem driver is found:

Posted Image

After this, right-click the Bluetooth icon and select Show Bluetooth Devices. Right-click the just-added phone and select Dial-up Networking / Create a dial-up connection:

Posted Image

Then, select "Standard modem over Bluetooth link":

Posted Image

After this, enter at least the pseudo dial-in number (in the screenshot, *99#) and make sure you give it a meaningful name (in the screenshot, T-Mobile BB):

Posted Image

After this, you're set: everything will work as expected. You can quickly access the connect icon by clicking the networking / wireless icon on the taskbar; just click the added modem connection(s) and select Connect:

Posted Image

Now, let's take a look at doing the same with BT PAN-based connections.

1.2 Creating PAN connections (newer WinMo phones with Internet Sharing)

First, right-click the Bluetooth icon and select "Add a device".

Posted Image

Don't be afraid of your device listed as a "Bluetooth Keyboard" - just click it and do the pairing (enter the auto-generated PIN on your phone). Don't be afraid of some drivers not being found either; the BT modem will be found, and that's all we need:

Posted Image

As with the simple BT DUN case, right-click the Bluetooth icon and select Show Bluetooth Devices. Right-click the just-added phone and select Connect Using / Access Point:

Posted Image

Before clicking this, make sure you do start Internet Sharing on your phone in BT PAN mode, though. The connection will be automatically initiated; after the initial home / public / work selection (common with all the other connection modes), you'll be directed right to the internet.

Note that, as opposed to the BT DUN (or, Wi-Fi) cases, you can only initiate a BT PAN connection from here; that is, Show Bluetooth Devices. BT PAN networks aren't listed in the traditional connectivity list; it only lists "real" modem connections (including BT DUN) and Wi-Fi networks.

1.3 Cancelling the default connection

I also need to speak a bit about cancelling the default connection. You may have noticed upon creating dial-up connections like BT DUN (NOT Wi-Fi or BT PAN ones) you're always asked about connecting via them if you don't have network connection and a program (for example, Skype) wants to connect to the net.

To get rid of these very annoying connection requests, (on Windows 7 / Vista) go to Network and Sharing Center (e.g., via Open Network and Sharing Center after pressing the wireless icon in the bottom-right bay). There, click Change adapter settings. Right-click the icon of your connection and select Cancel as Default Connection:

Posted Image

2. Symbian S60

I've also tested the latest Joikuspot Premium (2.5 for Symbian) and WalkingHotSpot [WHS] (3.0 for Symbian and 3.1 for Windows Mobile) versions.

On Symbian, Joikuspot 2.5 behaved pretty good. I no more had problems with connecting to IRC (as opposed to version 2.0); all my tests worked OK. Furthermore, now, if you download the Premium version, it offers a two-day trial mode. That's very nice! It's 100% working with the iPhone as a client; this must mean it's also compatible with the two iPod Touch versions. It's (still) incompatible with WinMo clients though (not a big problem). The only problem I've found was the constantly high power consumption (around 1.8-1.9W, using an UMTS / HSDPA network), even without any connected client.

WHS 3.0, still on Symbian, is still somewhat better in supporting some much rarer protocols. For example, in the IRC test, I could DCC a file to the client using WHS but not to Joiku. Also, not only the iPhone, but also the WinMo clients were able to use its Wi-Fi connection. Note that it still has the "four clients only" restriction - that is, if you want to connect to the internet with more than four clients. Nevertheless, JoikuSpot, particularly with its price having fallen to 15 Euros, is a very good (and cheaper) alternative.

There aren't notable differences in the power consumption of the two applications and, as has been emphasized, they're also compatible with Apple's Wi-Fi-enabled iPod Touch and iPhone devices. Neither of them offers the Access Point mode any more. (Not that it'd work - no wonder this has been removed.)

3. Windows Mobile

I've thoroughly tested the new versions of both WHS (3.10) and WMWifiRouter (1.35 build 850) on my HTC Universal with both the some-month-old Tomal 8.70 and the brand new Tomal 8.90 ROM.

WHS didn't really work using the Tomal 8.70 firmware; upon trying to connect to cellular network, it always displayed an error dialog (W002: Unable to connect, please check network settings). This may have been a misconfiguration issue. Under the Tomal 8.90 ROM, everything went just fine.

WMWifiRouter has received an ever nicer GUI in the meantime. It worked flawlessly. The only problem I've run into was my IBM Thinkpad t42p running Windows 7 RC1: under neither ROM version would it connect without connecting my iPhone 3G to the access point first; Windows 7 just displayed an error message of it being unable to connect. With the iPhone 3G connection being active, Windows 7 connected just fine. After having connected, I could safely disconnect my iPhone 3G; Windows 7 remained connected.

I've also tried to connect my Nokia N95 v30 first to see whether the Windows 7 connection is accepted when I use it for connecting first. It didn't work.

Note that this isn't a Windows 7-specific problem. I tried connecting to WMWifiRouter from my Windows 7 build 7000 (the first public beta) from my HP TC1100 - it worked flawlessly.

Of the two apps, WMWifiRouter is definitely the more capable. However, I still liked WHS better, simply because I could see all the time the state of the connected devices and the amount of data transferred. (Note that the latter is also displayed by Joiku on Symbian.)

3.1 Problems with the HP TC1100 under Windows XP TE

The peer-to-peer connections seem to be pretty unstable on my TC1100 running WinXP Pro Tablet Edition - it continuously disconnects after 3-4 minutes. (The same happens with both Windows Mobile and Symbian apps.) I haven't had problems like this under Windows 7 build 7000 running on exactly the same tablet. If you run into the same problem under XP TE, consider running another OS - at least when you must use any of these apps.

3.2 ICSControl

Note that I didn't want to play much with ICSControl 0.21, which hasn't been updated in the meantime. Just a quick tip: if it doesn't work (that is, nothing happens when you start the connection from inside ICS), then, ipsnat.dll may be missing from \Windows (like on the Universal). Make sure you install ICSControl by downloading THIS CAB file instead of the single EXE file linked to from the first post of the thread.

4. iPhone

The Apple iPhone can not only function as a client utilizing both Symbian and WinMo phones via p2p Wi-Fi connections - it can also act as a real modem. Unfortunately, in order to make this work, you must jailbreak your phone. You can download both applications from Cydia.

4.1 iPhoneModem 2.2.0

I don't really recommend this solution unless you absolutely can't afford the recommended one, PdaNet (see below). Unfortunately, you get what you pay for.

The commercial version ($9.99; PayPal) of this app supports e.g. running in the background. The trial version is useless: it displays a registration screen every 3-4 minute and, at the same time, disables modem functionality. It needs a desktop-side client (unlike PdaNet in Wi-Fi mode) to run to e.g. configure proxies and create the network.

It isn't a full solution but a proxy-based one, unlike PdaNet. Currently, DNS, HTTP, HTTPS and SOCKS proxies are supported; this means for example IRC won't run on a notebook using it.

4.2 PdaNet 1.52

This modem app should be the one to go for.

It's able to work over both Wi-Fi and USB. With Wi-Fi, it's able to serve not only desktop Windows and OS X clients, but also ones that are able to create p2p networks on their own. They include Windows Mobile clients. This means you can even access the Net on your Windows Mobile-based handheld if it only has Wi-Fi, using an external iPhone.

Currently, its only restriction is that, directly, only one client can use its Wi-Fi at a time, unlike with all the Symbian- and Windows Mobile-based solutions, which allow for four or even more clients at the same time. Note that you may be able to further share the net on the notebook or desktop computer it's connected to; I haven't tried to find out how this can be done. One thing is certain: if you try to connect to an already-connected p2p network between PdaNet and a notebook (or any other client), the previous client will be kicked off and the new client will be the one to have access to the Net.

It also supports USB mode (unlike iPhoneModem 2.2.0), which really helps the phone: Wi-Fi network sharing quickly eats thought the battery, which isn't the case with USB connection. After the desktop side client (PdaNet Desktop) installed, it minimizes itself to the desktop tray; you can quickly access it there (and exit / disconnect when the connection is not needed). Note that not any desktop-side app is needed when operating in Wi-Fi mode.

As with iPhoneModem, it also needs a desktop-side, pre-existing p2p network. There's no desktop-side client (unlike with iPhoneModem) to create this; however, the online tutorial dedicated to this question explains creating a p2p network on the desktop very well.

It can also run in the background - that is, you can safely press the Home button while running the app and continue for example browsing the web or playing. It uses little CPU time when running in the background.

The unrestricted trial is usable for 14 days; the regular price is $29. A bit steep, but, taken into account how much better it is than the proxy-based iPhoneModem, it's well worth the price.

Note that PdaNet has clients for all the mobile platforms (except Symbian S60), not only the iPhone. You won't want to get the Windows Mobile one (as opposed to the iPhone one) as all it does is simplifying connecting via the traditional methods. No Wi-Fi access point modes or anything like that. That is, stay away from the Windows Mobile version: if you need Wi-Fi, both WMWifiRouter and WalkingHotSpot are far better. And, if you need Bluetooth or USB, you can safely use the built-in, already-existing support in the operating system.

When I right click on the device I don't see anything but "remove" and properties. I'm using a Samsung Omnia i910 on a Vista laptop. I can't get the laptop to connect to the internet via a BT PAN, just via my WMWifiRouter program. Any insight on this?

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