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Your Smartphone as a Bluetooth Modem for Your Laptop
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Kris Kumar
Contributing Editor


Joined: 02 Jul 2003
Posts: 4877
Location: Rochester, NY, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 1:30 pm    Post subject: Your Smartphone as a Bluetooth Modem for Your Laptop Reply with quote

Smartphones, in spite of their small form factor, pack in a lot of power and functionality. And combine that with the unlimited Internet data plans that are now available from most carriers, you get a powerful mobile device that lets you check email and surf the Net. Sometimes you may run into the limitations of the small screen and the lack of keyboard/thumb-board. That's when the Bluetooth functionality and a laptop can come in handy. So the next time you're on vacation or on a business trip and want to reply to your emails, you can connect your laptop to the Internet using your Smartphone as the modem.



The following How-To article takes you through the steps required to connect your Smartphone and laptop using Bluetooth, so that the laptop can access the Internet using the Smartphone's data plan.
Pre-Requisites:
- Smartphone with Bluetooth [e.g. Audiovox SMT5600, Motorola MPx220];
- Windows XP Service Pack 2 based laptop with Bluetooth;
- Internet Data Plan with the carrier, unlimited data plan is preferred.

Please note that for this step-by-step guide the Microsoft Bluetooth components are being used. These come standard with Windows XP Service Pack 2. In case you are running a different Bluetooth stack [e.g. a vendor specific one], then some of the desktop based screen shots may vary. But the overall steps and the sequence should be the same as illustrated by this guide.

Before you begin, please verify that the Smartphone's Outlook mailbox and Pocket Internet Explorer can connect to the Internet. Perform mailbox sync or browse to a Web page on the device. If you are unable to connect, then verify the settings under Start->Settings->Data Connections. You can use the My Windows Mobile Website to configure your device.

In case you are using a Bluetooth dongle on your laptop, ensure that the dongle is plugged in and Bluetooth is enabled on the laptop.

Let's begin the configuration process.

Step one: Launch Bluetooth manager on your laptop.


Figure 1: On your laptop, click on the Bluetooth icon in the system taskbar and click on the menu item titled "Open Bluetooth Settings".


Figure 2: In case you do not see the icon in the system taskbar, try the Control Panel.


Figure 3: This is the Bluetooth settings applet on your laptop that will help you establish a connection with a Bluetooth Smartphone.

Step two: Make Smartphone discoverable via Bluetooth.


Figure 4: On your Smartphone, click Start->Settings->Bluetooth. Select "Discoverable" and click "Done".

You are about begin a process which is called pairing in Bluetooth lingo. This process involves discovering the Smartphone via Bluetooth on your laptop and establishing a connection between the two.

Step three: Discover the Smartphone on your laptop.


Figure 5: On your laptop, go back to the "Bluetooth Devices" screen. Click on the "Add" button.


Figure 6: "Add Bluetooth Device Wizard" will popup. Enable the "My device is set up and ready to be found" option and click the "Next" button.


Figure 7: The next screen will show the Bluetooth devices found by the wizard. Select your Smartphone from the list and click the "Next" button.


Figure 8: Select the "Let me choose my own passkey" and specify a number, (let's say "1234") and click the "Next" button.


Figure 9: The wizard will show the above screen. Now it's time to pick up the Smartphone and wait for the laptop connection request.


Figure 10: When a screen similar to that above appears on your Smartphone, select "Yes".


Figure 11: Enter the passkey, and click "Done".


Figure 12: Enter the display name to identify the laptop. It defaults to the name of the laptop. In my case it is "Keeda".


Figure 13: Once you accept the display name. You will see the final message on your Smartphone showing the completion of pairing between the laptop and the Smartphone.


Figure 14: On your Smartphone, go back to the Start->Settings->Bluetooth dialog. Change the selection from "Discoverable" to "On". This also ensures that no one else can discover your Bluetooth enabled Smartphone. Wink


Figure 15: In the Bluetooth dialog, select the Menu->Devices option. In the list that shows up you will see your laptop listed as one of the known devices. Click "Done" and "Done" again.


Figure 16: On your laptop, go to the "Bluetooth Devices" screen and you will see your Smartphone listed there. Select it and click on "Properties".


Figure 17: Select the "Services" tab in the properties dialog box.


Figure 18: Verify the presence of "Dial-up networking (DUN)" service in the list. The COM port may vary in your case. Close all the Bluetooth related dialog boxes.

Step four: Create a dial-up connection.


Figure 19: On your laptop, go to "Control Panel" and then "Network Connections". Click on the "Create a new connection" from the left panel.


Figure 20: The "New Connection Wizard" will popup, click "Next" to proceed to the next step.


Figure 21: Select "Connect to the Internet" and click "Next".


Figure 22: Select "Set up my connection manually" and click "Next".


Figure 23: Select "Connect using a dial-up modem" and click "Next".


Figure 24: Select the Bluetooth modem from the list.


Figure 25: Specify the ISP name. This is the name by which Windows will create a dial-up shortcut icon in the "Network Connections" folder.


Figure 26: When connecting to the cell phone carrier's Internet network, the number to be dialed is "*99#" [without the double quotes (")]. The number "*99#" instructs the cell phone to connect to the Internet using the settings provided in Settings->Data Connections. In case you want to connect to an ISP like Earthlink or AOL, the dial-up number [with area code if required] needs to be entered on this screen.


Figure 27: Select the choice you think is appropriate, based on the laptop usage.


Figure 28: The user name and password will be blank if you are using the carrier's Internet connection or data plan. As long as the carrier's username and password are stored on the Smartphone in the "Data Connections" settings, there is no need to worry about this wizard step. In case you are planning to connect to an ISP like Earthlink or AOL, then you need to enter the ISP assigned user name and password in this screen. Before clicking the "Next" button, uncheck the "Make this the default connection" option at the bottom of the wizard.


Figure 29: Horray! The dial-up connection shortcut has been created and now it's time to test it out. Smile

Final Step: Connecting to the Internet using the Bluetooth Smartphone

Once the above mentioned configuration steps are carried out, the laptop is ready to connect to the Internet using the Bluetooth Smartphone. From here onwards you need to carry out only the following instructions to connect to the Internet.


Figure 30: Ensure that Bluetooth is turned "On" on your Smartphone and your laptop. On your laptop, launch the shortcut for the dial-up connection. It can be found in the Control Panel->Networking Connections.


Figure 31: Click on the "Properties" button to verify that the Bluetooth modem is selected. Click the "Cancel" button and then click the "Dial" button.

Before dialing, always verify that the modem being used is the Bluetooth one. I have noticed that Windows does sometimes deselect the Bluetooth modem and select the IR modem or regular telephone modem. Confused I believe this happens more when you are using a Bluetooth USB dongle, because the dongle may not always be connected, forcing Windows to reset the modem selection.

In case you are connecting to an ISP like Earthlink or AOL, verify the dial-up number, area code and dialing rules. You may also need to tweak some of the options. Since I do not have an ISP number and account handy, I cannot lay down the exact steps. But I was able to dial my home phone using the dial-up connection over Bluetooth.


Figure 32: When you click the "Dial" button, you will see a "Connecting to..." screen.


Figure 33: Followed by this screen.


Figure 34: And finally when the connection is established, you will see this screen.


Figure 35: Windows will minimize the connection dialog to the system taskbar. Don't be fooled by the connection speed displayed in the popup, it is showing the connection speed between the laptop and the Smartphone over Bluetooth. It is not showing the actual Internet download speed.


Figure 36: On your Smartphone, when you are connected to the Internet on your laptop, the iconbar will show the special bi-directional arrow icon [top right corner] to show that a dial-up connection has been established.


Figure 37: When you are done using the Internet on your laptop. Click on the Dial-up connection icon in the system taskbar and click on the "Disconnect" button.

What to do in Case of Errors?


Figure 38: This is one of the most common errors that you will see during dial-up connection. Usually turning off Bluetooth on the Smartphone and then turning it back on gets rid of this error message. Sometimes the Smartphone and/or the laptop may need to be rebooted.


Figure 39: This error is an interesting error. The only way to get rid of this error is to perform a mailbox sync on your Smartphone or browse to a Web page on your Smartphone using the Pocket Internet Explorer. Basically what we are trying to do is establish a connection with the Internet using the Smartphone and get the Smartphone registered on the carrier's network. And then re-initiating the dial-up connection from your laptop. It seems the registration process is different when Internet is accessed directly on your Smartphone and when it is accessed from the laptop. And the carrier requires the first connection to be established directly from the Smartphone.


Figure 40: This is not required in most cases. However some carriers may require special modem initialization command, something like the one shown in the above screen [AT+cgdcont=1,"IP","<apn_here>","",0,0]. It can be accessed using the "Phone and Modem Options" in the Control Panel. And then selecting the Bluetooth modem from the list. In case you need to use this extra modem command, replace the <apn_here> text with the Access Point Name specified by your carrier. In case of T-Mobile it is "internet2.voicestream.com". I have never specified any modem initialization string. The dial-up connection has worked well without any.

And there you have it - enjoy using your Smartphone as a Bluetooth modem for your laptop!

Would you like to take this article with you? Download the MHTML version (Right Click > Save As) - it's a single file that will open with Internet Explorer.
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lurch
Smartphone Ponderer


Joined: 12 Dec 2003
Posts: 108
Location: Indianapolis

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting this well illustrated how-to!

I was struggling through this the other night (my MPx220 is my first BT device), and now I see I was 80% of the way there! Smile

I'll try it the rest of the way tonight.
Thanks again!
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Jason Dunn
Executive Editor


Joined: 30 Jun 2003
Posts: 1553
Location: Calgary, CANADA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AWESOME article Kris - nicely done!
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Mike Temporale
Managing Editor


Joined: 07 Jul 2003
Posts: 9616
Location: Toronto, Canada

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 8:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Your Smartphone as a Bluetooth Modem for Your Laptop Reply with quote

Nice work Kris! Things are a little different for me since I don't have the Windows Bluetooth stack, regardless, it's still very helpful.

Kris Kumar wrote:

Figure 39: This error is an interesting error. The only way to get rid of this error is to perform a mailbox sync on your Smartphone or browse to a Web page on your Smartphone using the Pocket Internet Explorer. Basically what we are trying to do is establish a connection with the Internet using the Smartphone and get the Smartphone registered on the carrier's network. And then re-initiating the dial-up connection from your laptop. It seems the registration process is different when Internet is accessed directly on your Smartphone and when it is accessed from the laptop. And the carrier requires the first connection to be established directly from the Smartphone.


This is the most common error I get. Next time it comes up, I will try surfing with the Smartphone first and then redial from my laptop to see if it solves things. If so, it will be much easier than my current process of rebooting and kicking everything. Wink
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Infarct
Smartphone Neophyte


Joined: 05 Dec 2004
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

VERY sweet!!!

My only suggestion is to port the whole thing with pics and all into a zipfile, so people can d/l it and have it around.

I don't have a laptop, but I see one in my future, and this is a very appealing combo!
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lurch
Smartphone Ponderer


Joined: 12 Dec 2003
Posts: 108
Location: Indianapolis

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 8:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Your Smartphone as a Bluetooth Modem for Your Laptop Reply with quote

Mike Temporale wrote:
This is the most common error I get. Next time it comes up, I will try surfing with the Smartphone first and then redial from my laptop to see if it solves things. If so, it will be much easier than my current process of rebooting and kicking everything. Wink


I am running into that error repeatedly tonight, regardless of whether or not I reconnect from my smartphone. I saw some posts on howardforums that said the solution was to use the connection string that Kris talked about at the very end.
Here's a link to what I'm reading: (I haven't verified it yet though)
http://howardforums.com/showthread....threadid=236865

EDIT: Okay, I just tried it, and it made no difference. I just can't get past the PPP error message, and I don't feel like expending the energy to do it tonight!
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"And then she understood the devilish cunning of the enemies' plan. By mixing a little truth with it they had made their lie far stronger."
-C.S. Lewis

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Kris Kumar
Contributing Editor


Joined: 02 Jul 2003
Posts: 4877
Location: Rochester, NY, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 9:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Your Smartphone as a Bluetooth Modem for Your Laptop Reply with quote

lurch wrote:

I am running into that error repeatedly tonight, regardless of whether or not I reconnect from my smartphone. I saw some posts on howardforums that said the solution was to use the connection string that Kris talked about at the very end.
Here's a link to what I'm reading: (I haven't verified it yet though)
http://howardforums.com/showthread....threadid=236865

EDIT: Okay, I just tried it, and it made no difference. I just can't get past the PPP error message, and I don't feel like expending the energy to do it tonight!


Are you on T-Mobile or Cingular?
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Kris Kumar
Contributing Editor


Joined: 02 Jul 2003
Posts: 4877
Location: Rochester, NY, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you are with Cingular or with a carrier that requires username and password for the Internet connection, then try putting them in Figure 28 or Figure 30.

I tried and tested this with T-Mobile and different carriers have slightly different registration process. Sad Hopefully we will identify all the problems in this thread and make it easy for future users.Smile
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Jason Dunn
Executive Editor


Joined: 30 Jun 2003
Posts: 1553
Location: Calgary, CANADA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Infarct wrote:
My only suggestion is to port the whole thing with pics and all into a zipfile, so people can d/l it and have it around.


If you look at the bottom of Kris' article, I've created an MHTML version of the file that you can download and open in IE offline. Enjoy!
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Rzanology
Smartphone Pupil


Joined: 11 Jul 2003
Posts: 37

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey guys I have a very important question. Im with cingular now.will they charge for using the connection with the laptop? I was told by two different reps that they charge extra for connecting and using the internet connection with any other device than the 220 itself. BUT! How the hell will they know? Is this true or are they just trying to scare me? I know when I was with t-mobile I use to do this almost everyday. Id love to be able to use my phone as a modem again.
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