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Windows XP Unwired

Getting Connected While on the Road Using Infrared or Bluetooth

by Wei-Meng Lee, author of Windows XP Unwired
04/06/2004

Even though wireless hotspots are in vogue these days, getting connected to the Internet while on the road is still a challenge because wireless hotspot coverage is limited. Your mobile phone offers a much wider scope of coverage than the largest hotspot in the world. But how do you get connected to the Internet through your mobile phone? In this article, I will show you how you can make use of your mobile phone to connect to the Internet via GPRS. We will investigate two primary ways to connect your notebook to the mobile phone -- infrared and Bluetooth.

Using Infrared

The first solution is the easiest -- using infrared. Most mobile phones today come with an infrared port and you can establish a connection between your computer and the phone through this tiny infrared port.

Most notebook computers also come with a built-in infrared port located behind the screen. However, if yours does not come with one (or if you are using a desktop computer), you can purchase an USB infrared adapter for about $40. Figure 1 shows the U4-IRDA USB Infrared adapter from USBGear. The nice thing about USB Infrared adapters is that they are plug-and-play and require no external power.

Figure 1
Figure 1. The U4-IRDA USB Infrared adapter from USBGear.

The downside to using the infrared solution is that you need to maintain line-of-sight between two transmitting devices. Infrared ports have a 30-degree angle of coverage and due to infrared's limited transmitting distance you also need to ensure that the mobile phone is placed as near to the infrared port as possible.

Connecting your Computer to the Mobile Phone Through Infrared

You should first turn on your infrared connectivity on your mobile phone. In this article, I will illustrate using my Nokia 6610.

Once the infrared connectivity is turned on, point it at the infrared port of your computer. The Tray should display an infrared icon (see Figure 2).

Figure 2
Figure 2. Windows XP sees the Nokia 6610 in range.

Now we need to configure Windows XP to use the Nokia 6610 as a modem. Right-click on My Network Places and select Properties. On the left side of the window, click on Create a new connection (see Figure 3).

Figure 3
Figure 3. Creating a new network connection.

Choose the following options in the windows that come up:

  1. Select Connect to the Internet. Click Next.

  2. Select Set up my connection manually. Click Next.

  3. Select Connect using a dial-up modem. Click Next.

  4. Check the option Modem -- Standard Modem over IR link #2 (COM5) (See Figure 4, you may see a different COM port number on your screen). Click Next.

    Figure 4
    Figure 4. Using the Nokia as a modem over the IR link.

  5. Give a name to your ISP. Click Next.

  6. Type in the phone number to dialup to your ISP for GPRS access. Check with your ISP if you are unsure. Click Next.

  7. Select My Use Only. Click Next.

  8. Enter your user name and password to login to your ISP. Again, check with your ISP if you are unsure.

A new Dial-up Connection icon will be added to the Network Connections icon. Simply double-click on it and click on the Dial button to get connected to the Internet (see Figure 5).

Figure 5
Figure 5. Dialing up to the ISP.

Troubleshooting Tip

If you position your infrared ports correctly and still see the message "Wireless link interrupted -- the link has been blocked or the device has moved out of range" when you try to dialup using the infrared port, try the following solution. In the Tray, right-click on the Infrared icon and select Properties. Click on the Hardware tab and select Properties (see Figure 6).

Figure 6
Figure 6. Viewing the properties of the infrared port/adapter.

When the Properties window opens, click on the Advanced tab and select the Infrared Transceiver Type property. Change the value to "Vishay TFD" (see Figure 7).

Figure 7
Figure 7. Changing the value of the Infrared Transceiver Type.

You should now be able to use your infrared port.

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