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Wi-Fi Connectivity for your PDA

This page has help and advice for those looking to connect their PDA, Windows Mobile device or mobile phone to a wireless wi-fi network.

Total PDA


Wi-fi on your mobile device

Some mobile phones and PDAs either have Wi-fi built-in, or it's possible to enable them for wi-fi. With a handheld device that's wi-fi enabled, you'll be able to get Internet access from your home or work wi-fi network, or from one of the thousands of wireless hotspots.

This page contains some of the basic info you'll need to get up-and-running.

If you're looking for general information on wi-fi, or how to enable your PC or house for wi-fi, see our Wi-fi page.



Connecting to a Pocket PC (Windows 2002 software)

The following section details how to connect a Pocket PC to a PC, and use the connection to surf the Internet from the Pocket PC via the PC's modem. In this case, we're using a Pocket Loox 600 (With Pocket PC 2002 software), a Netgear MA701 wireless CF card, connected to a PC that's using a Belkin 54g Wireless Desktop Network Card. Onward connection to the Internet is via a broadband USB modem
  • Install the wi-fi card drivers on the Pocket PC
  • Insert the wi-fi CF card
  • Go to Start | Settings | Connections | Network adapters. Select your wifi card, and press Properties

    Select your card

  • For most cases, it should be OK to work with "Use server-assigned IP address", unless you have set your PC use specific IP addresses, or have a more complex setup (in which as you'll have to enter the IP address, subnet mask and default gateway that your PC network card is using). To find out information about your PC's IP configuration, go to Start, Run, type in "cmd" and press Enter. You'll be at a DOS prompt (black background). Type in "ipconfig" and press Enter.

Card config

  • Press OK, and OK again to close the Network Adapters dialog
  • Now go to Start | Settings | Connections | Connections and change the "My network connects to:" option to "The Internet".

Connections setting

  • Press OK, and OK again to close the Network Adapters dialog

The remaining steps require you to use the application that is installed on the Pocket PC when you installed the software supplied with your wireless network card. We're using a Netgear MA701 802.11b Wireless CF card, and the MA701 Config Utility (version 2.1.0). Steps may differ depending on your card and config application

  • Open the WiFi utility. For the MA701, this is in Start | Settings | System
  • Move to the "AP Browser" tab, and scan for wireless networks in your area. When you find the one you want, select "Join"

Scanning for Wifi

  • Using a secure connection is always recommended, and assuming the PC you're talking to is also secure, then you'll need to enter an Encryption key. If joining, you'll be taken to the Security screen, otherwise, scroll to the Security tab.
  • You'll need to select a WEP encryption method. Select the method that is being used by the PC. Note that standard security uses a 64-bit encryption key. You'll need to enter the WEP key that's being used on the PC (the keys must match, so if you don't know the key, you can't get in. For more on WEP keys, see the FAQ below. Assuming a 64-bit key, select a "Key type" of HEX, and for "Key ID: Key 1", in the Key box, type this in (e.g. "4C72F08AE2"). When complete, press "Apply"

Entering a WEP key

That should be enough to get you going. The status tab should provide a confirmation that you're connected, as should the light on the top of the CF card. Now try going to Internet Explorer on the Pocket PC, and try surfing!

Connecting to a Pocket PC (Windows Mobile 2003 software)

Things get considerably easier if your Pocket PC is running the Windows Mobile operating system. In 2003, Microsoft introduced "Zero Configuration Wi-Fi", which makes setup a doddle. You don't need to do much in the way of setting up the Wi-Fi hardware, as when you're in range of an 802.11 network, a box pops up and asks you if you want to connect. You may then be prompted for the WEP key.
Pocket PC 2003 Wi-fi setup
Zero-config wi-fi
Pocket PC 2003 WEP key

Problems connecting

If you're having problems with your wi-fi connection, try the following:

Some general things to check
Disable Security Try disabling security (WEP) at both ends, at least until you can establish an unsecure connection. As soon as you get the connection working, remember to re-enable WEP, for security purposes. On the PC, this can be set from Control panel | Network connection | <wifi card icon> | Wireless Network tab | Properties.
Remember to re-enable WEP for a secure connection.
Check your Firewall Temporarily turn off any firewalls you may have to see if that solves things. On our test network, we had a copy of Norton Security's firewall, and although we'd configured the firewall to allow our PC to connect to the Internet, the firewall saw the attempt by the Pocket PC to connect to the PC as an intrusion and blocked it. The workaround for Norton Personal Firewall is to allow the IP address of the Pocket PC through (Personal Firewall | Configure button | Networking tab | Add trusted | IP address).
Remember that turning off your firewall presents a risk of others accessing your system.

Check your mode Check that both ends are using the same mode: Ad-hoc (two computers) or Infrastructure (larger network, or access point)
Some specific Pocket PC / Windows Mobile things to try
Unable to surf?

Pocket PC Wi-fi setupSeeing the message "The page you are looking for cannot be found"?
If you find that you're able to establish a connection to your PC or router, but can't surf, then there are a couple of things to try:

  • Firstly, try disabling the firewall and WEP security (see above) on the PC, then disabling WEP on your Pocket PC. To disable WEP on a Pocket PC, go to Start > Settings > Connection > Network Card > [yourwifidevice] > Network Key > Data encryption.
  • If not, then it could well be that there's a problem with your IP address, gateway or DNS addresses. These are controlled from the Start > Settings > Connection > Network Card > [yourwifidevice]. If your network router uses a service called DHCP, an IP address and subnet mask can be automatically assigned to your device. If not (or if in doubt), then you need to enter an IP address (in the range supported by your router), the subnet mask used by your router, and the IP address of the router itself (the router software should display that information.
  • You also may need to check the DNS address - Websites have an IP address and web browsers use a DNS (Domain Name Server) to convert from a web address to the IP address. It could be that your Pocket PC can't find a DNS server, so is failing to look up pages correctly. On the 'Name Servers' tab, enter the primary and secondary DNS server addresses of your Internet Service Provider (see their support website).

The iPAQ rx3715 has a useful diagnostic tool that can help ... Start > Settings > System > Self test > wi-fi . You can use this to test whether you have connectivity to the Internet, and let you "ping" a website, to see if you can make a connection.

Need some help with wi-fi? For specific technical questions, ask in our forum. If it's a general question, ask us.



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