I admit that I was quite "frustrated" and "irritated" when Microsoft replaced
the dial-up modem functionality on Windows Mobile 5.0 AKU2 with Internet
Sharing. Maybe it was out of my own Windows Mobile history but dial-up
connection is why I started my own Windows Mobile related homepage back in 1998,
when I published a tweak which allowed you to use a P/PC or H/PC with
infrared data-enabled GSM phones. Anyway, using a Windows Mobile smartphone as a
modem always required some setup to make it working. While it also has its
benefits (you can initiate a connection from the PC by leaving the Windows
Mobile device in the pocket or bag) all these Hayes AT command strings you had
to enter weren't consumer friendly at all. That's why Microsoft decided to
switch from dial-up modem connection to Internet Sharing.
The idea behind Internet Sharing is that the smartphone initiates a GPRS,
EDGE, UMTS or HSDPA connection and after this connection is established, it also
handles the connection with the PC, either by using USB or Bluetooth. No need to
preconfigure the smartphone or the PC, it just works with two clicks.
So when I arrived at my parents on 24th, my father told me that he has some
trouble to get his E-Mails downloaded to his PC. Well, my father isn't doing too
much Internet and therefore he is still using a ISDN dial-up connection instead
of DSL (which we will change now anyway). Unfortunately, most of his friends are
using DSL already and a good amount of them sent him Christmas wishes with
photos which filled his E-Mail account to over 60 MB of E-Mails. If you are
longer in the Internet as well, you might remember that downloading over 60 MB
via a modem (or ISDN which serves up to 64 Kbps) takes forever, is painful and
it can be expensive (since you're charged per online minute).
So I decided to use my O2 Xda comet to download his E-Mails to his PC.
Equipped with an E-Plus UMTS SIM card and flat data plan, E-Plus is at least
able to serve up to 384 Kbps (instead of the ISDN's 64 Kbps) while still not
offering HSDPA (unfortunately).
And here we go - all I had to do was downloading ActiveSync 4.5 over his ISDN
connection because it includes the required RNDIS drivers to make Internet
Sharing via USB working (would be nice if this driver pack would be available as
a stand-alone download as well). After the installation of ActiveSync (which I
don't used at all but just the drivers), I fired up Internet Sharing on the
smartphone, connected to the E-Plus UMTS network, plugged the USB cable into the
smartphone and PC and 10 seconds later the PC had its "highspeed" Internet
connection. And while the E-Plus UMTS coverage is somewhat weak here, it's
available and alive and I was able to download my father's E-Mails to his
Computer with something around 200 - 250 Kbps. Pretty cool since this is 3 - 4
times faster than ISDN and therefore it was just a matter of (shorter) time to
receive all the awaiting E-Mails and cleaning-up his E-Mail account.
And the moral of the story? While I'm still the opinion that dial-up
connection is the better option for power users, Internet Sharing, as it is
implemented on Windows Mobile 5.0 and 6 smartphones, is quite easy to use. Not
bad at all, if only Windows XP (in this case SP2) would already have the RNDIS
driver on board. Because this driver are required to make a USB connection
between the PC and the smartphone working. Alternatively you could also use
Bluetooth PAN (Personal Are Networking) but this requires a PC with Bluetooth
which also has to support the PAN profile.
Cheers ~ Arne