Set Up Wireless Internet Access On Windows Laptop via Cellphone

Ryan Dube 06-08-2009

connect Ever since I first purchased my Windows Mobile device, I’ve been obsessed with getting the most out of my unlimited data plan – as evidenced by the recent article I wrote about getting on YouTube at School How to Get on YouTube at School Using Mobile Internet Read More with such a 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 Easy Mobile Internet Plan Comparison for United States Read More 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.


laptop wireless internet access

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.

mobile internet

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.

mobile internet

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.”

mobile internet


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.

wireless internet for laptop

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.

wireless internet access


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.

laptop wireless internet connections

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.”

wireless internet connection

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.

wireless internet access

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.

Related topics: Wi-Fi, Windows Mobile.

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  1. alex
    October 21, 2009 at 10:20 am shifting to a place in indiana without a cable modem next month.until the broadband is installed,i would like to use my nokia e 50 as a using AT&T the best option?

  2. Aryamaan Giri
    August 12, 2009 at 3:15 am

    Hey, nice article. Do you know of site that offers free themes for HTC P3400? I tried zedge but got nothing.

  3. Aryamaan Giri
    August 12, 2009 at 3:12 am

    Hey, do you know of any sites where i can get themes for my HTC P3400 ? I tried zedge.. but they have none for HTC P3400.

  4. Dvir
    August 10, 2009 at 1:35 am

    Is this really breaking news? I have a PDA and a laptop for the last 4 years, and I've always used my PDA as a cellular modem with a USB connection. All I had to do is install the USB modem driver from the PDA's setup CD.
    In addition, there is no need to kill applications, only to launch the modem link on the PDA and then connect it to the PC. The modem link application cancels the ActiveSync connection.

    Is there something I'm missing here?

    • Ryan Dube
      August 10, 2009 at 7:06 pm

      Hey Dvir - Thanks for your insight on the ActiveSync, I assumed it had to be shut down first but it's good to know the modem link app will automatically cancel ActiveSync's connection. As to what you're missing - nothing at all. Here at MUO, we don't write breaking news, we write articles that will help people "make use of" technology they may not already know about. If you already know how to tether your PDA for Internet access with your laptop, then good for you...however, there are thousands of readers out there who may have found this article in search of instructions on how to do it. And we aim to serve. ;) Thanks again for your comment.

  5. gurughantal
    August 9, 2009 at 11:45 am

    when you write for internet you should suppose that there is world ourside the great US of A. Check out 'other' world's data plans. India has Airtel, Aircel and others. I've been using Airtel's GPRS but now switched to Aircel's. Why? Compare it with any other country in the world: Rs. 98 (i.e. USD 2 - Yes, TWO) for a month UNLIMITED.

    • Ryan Dube
      August 10, 2009 at 7:02 pm

      Hey Gurughantal - thanks for providing some insight on the cell data plans in India...valuable information for MUO readers from your part of the world!

  6. Chris
    August 8, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    My phone doesn't have a task manager, and I've been unable to research if my phone is windows based :(

    Does anyone know if Sanyo Katana Eclipse is a windows based phone? If it isn't then that's going to be such a drag as I was hoping to use my phone for internet on my laptop for college :(

  7. B. Moore
    August 7, 2009 at 11:40 am

    So I think we have it settled now.

    You only have unlimited data usage on smart phones.

    If you tether to a laptop or any other device that is not the original phone the plan was set up for you probably have a 5 gig cap and you should double check with your carrier on over usage fees before you tether so you do not incur a bill you can not afford!

  8. Ryan Dube
    August 6, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    I'm not sure with the Iphone. I was thinking of getting one too and I'd be disappointed if it couldn't be tethered - as described above a lot depends on what you can find for the driver/dialer app. I assume with iPhone that's a whole different ballgame. I hope other readers might be able to provide some insight on tethering with the iphone...

  9. chris
    August 6, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Pdanet is the app i use. Similar to what you have here. I like it but let me check this out.

  10. B. Moore
    August 6, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    *** 2 check boxes

  11. B. Moore
    August 6, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    unlimited data plan??? With who?

    You must be dreaming cause no one offers a unlimted data especially with any mobile device.

    sidenote... why the hell do you have to check boxes to get emails on comments???

    • Ryan Dube
      August 6, 2009 at 8:48 pm

      Hey B.Moore - just about every cellular provider in the world...?? For example, I have AT&T and they offer an unlimited data plan for about $39/month I believe (I get a small corporate discount). This is, of course, on top of your regular cell plan for making phone calls. With the unlimited data plan I can surf the web with my SmartPhone without a care in the world. The only thing that worries me is that you aren't aware cellular providers offer unlimited data plans. :)

      • Bean
        August 6, 2009 at 10:23 pm

        I think you'll find that when tethered you're limited to 5GB per month. On Verizon I have unlimited on the device but only 5GB when tethered.

        • B. Moore
          August 6, 2009 at 11:35 pm

          Thank you Bean thats what I am talking about.

          NO carrier will give you usage over 5 gigs without raping you for every mb over the 5 gig.

        • Ryan Dube
          August 6, 2009 at 11:40 pm

          Like I said - I've been using the ATT unlimited plan for years without extra charges, but it appears they've split the PDA plan into two now...I wonder if I've been grandfathered (doubt it!) I'll have to call ATT and find out more - I hope you guys are wrong! :)

        • B. Moore
          August 6, 2009 at 11:42 pm

          i am pretty sure I have confused you between data & "mobile broadband".

          when you are tethering you are not send text to other phones.

          to me text = data plan & tethering="mobile broadband plan"

          no one offers more than 5 gigs on a "mobile broadband plan"

        • Ryan Dube
          August 7, 2009 at 12:09 am

          When I use unlimited data, I'm not sending text to other phones, I'm using the browser on my PDA to access the GPRS or EDGE data networks (whichever is available) to access the Internet, NOT to send text messages to people. (Yes, there's an unlimited texting plan, but that's not the plan being discussed here). Just do a search for "unlimited data" on ATT and you'll find the PDA unlimited plan where they charge a whopping $0 per MB of data transfer (with a monthly fee obviously) for Internet browsing. It's a beautiful thing.

        • Steve
          August 7, 2009 at 9:28 am

          This is the whole point of the article....using the unlimited "non-tethered" rate when tethered. I also have AT&T unlimited data that allows me to surf the web on my blackberry and send and receive all the emails I want from it.

          HOWEVER, if I want to buy there solution for tethering my laptop through my blackberry I have to pay more because my PC will use A LOT more data than my smartphone ever could or would. The unlimited rate is only when not using the smartphone as a modem for a full computer.

    • thematrix777
      October 2, 2009 at 11:10 am

      I have an unlimited data plan with Sprint. I don't know who you are using, but you might want to consider changing carriers.

  12. Jonathan Cohen
    August 7, 2009 at 12:56 am

    Please do make sure with your carrier how you are charged for mobile data -- tethered vs. non-tethered.

    As I recall, Windows Mobile reports your use of tethering to your carrier, so if you have an unlimited "on-device" data plan (which I do - HTC Touch on Bell Mobility in Canada for $7/month) you will be billed (massively) for the tethered data.

    A good source for discussions on these topics is Howard Forums (

  13. RK
    August 6, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    I'm trying WMwifiRouter ( program and is working perfectly. Not free though.