Mobile Internet Access on my Netbook using my Nokia E63

In this post I’d like to share my experience with tethering my Nokia E63 to my Asus N10J netbook for mobile internet access. For something that would appear seemingly so simple in this day and age, it took a lot off effort to get working seamlessly. This is mainly targeted at those with an E series Nokia trying to achieve the same end (on Windows XP). After finally having achieved a reliable connection, I thought it might help to share.

First off, why not just use a 3G USB or WIFI modem instead of tethering my E63? Well, a) I’m with TPG Mobile, so my plan has 2 Gb data included per month, far more than I ever use for mobile browsing and plenty to use for browsing / checking email with my netbook and b) why pay more for another thing to carry? It’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll already have my phone with me!

Secondly, in terms of reliability, performance and ease of use, wired USB beats wireless Bluetooth by far. I guess this is nothing new, good old 10/100/1000 ethernet beats 802.11a/b/g/n by far in the same ways. So if you don’t have a USB cable for your E series Nokia, grab one now. Unfortunately the E63 only supports USB 1.1, but it’s still way better than Bluetooth. My Asus netbook has built in Bluetooth, but the reliability hassles just aren’t worth the cable-less convenience. And the connection speeds using USB (460 Kbps) are much better than using Bluetooth (115 Kbps).

Thirdly, the less moving parts and the simpler the software installation, the better the reliability. I had a lot of trouble getting things to work reliably using Nokia’s Ovi or PC Suites. This was exacerbated further when combined with the Bluetooth vs USB factor.

So what did I do in the end to get things going smoothly? Here’s the steps:

  1. Set your E63 to ‘Connect PC to web’ USB mode (Menu –> Connectivity –> USB –> USB connection mode).
  2. Connect the USB cable from your E63 to your PC. If you’re lucky this should fire up the Nokia PC Internet Access application. This will also mount your E63 as a USB drive, so if the application doesn’t auto-start, browse to the newly-mounted drive and run it. If it doesn’t work, try unplugging / replugging the USB cable a couple of times, and try a few different USB ports. Mine was a bit finicky, but eventually it should fire up and allow you to install the drivers / application.
  3. Make sure you have a ‘Nokia E63 USB Modem’ device under ‘Modems’ in your Device Manager. This will tell you that the drivers have installed correctly.
  4. Open up the ‘Phones / Modems’ Control Panel section. Select the ‘Nokia E63 USB Modem’ device and add the following initialisation string in the ‘Advanced’ tab: +cgdcont=1,”ip”,”internet” (replace ‘internet’ with the access point name of the internet connection you wish to use on your Nokia, find it in Menu –> Tools –> Settings –> Connection –> Access Points –> select your internet connection –> Access point name). Also set the ‘Maxium Port Speed’ value to its maximum.
  5. Open up the ‘Network Connections’ Control Panel selection. Create a new dial-up connection, using the ‘Nokia E63 USB Modem’ device, dialing the number ‘*99#’, and making sure to leave the user name and password blank. It might be a good idea to put a shortcut to this connection in your quick launch toolbar or on your desktop.
  6. Unplug the USB cable. A reboot at this point is probably a good idea.
  7. While your PC’s rebooting, set your E63 to ‘PC Suite’ USB mode (Menu –> Connectivity –> USB –> USB connection mode).
  8. After you have logged back into Windows, connect the USB cable up, you should have a whole bunch of ‘new hardware found’ messages, with the devices all being installed ok. If not, try unplugging / replugging the USB cable a couple of times, try different ports etc, eventually it should work.
  9. Try to connect using the dial-up network connection you just set up. Hopefully everything will work and it connects ok!
  10. Uninstall the Nokia PC Internet Access application. You only need the drivers that it installs, not the application itself.

As a painful aside, plugging the USB cable into different ports on your PC will set up a different ‘Nokia E63 USB Modem’ device, one for each port, using a different COM port. You will have to select the speed and add the initialisation string to each device. So once you’ve got it connected, it’s worth plugging it into each port that you’re planning to use on your machine and configuring the resulting modem device. Thankfully the network connection you have created will auto-detect the correct modem device to use each time without making you select it.

As another aside, you can connect your E63 via Bluetooth at step 3 and then continue, it should work as well.

So there you have it, a quick guide to tethering your Nokia E63 to your PC and using it for mobile internet access. Of course you can do many variations to this, using the Nokia PC / OVI suites, but for me this is the simplest and most reliable method. I don’t need to sync my E63 calendar or contact lists with my netbook, so I don’t need any of the functionality those suites proved.

Good luck! You’ll need it, this is definitely not bulletproof, industrial strength stuff, that’s for sure.

Edit: actually, here is a much better guide:

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