3G internet sharing over WIFI

14 Mar 2010
Posted by Laptop Junction

Share 3G internet connection over WIFI

You have a 3G internet connection on your phone or laptop? Here's how to share it with others over WIFI. Solutions range from simple software on your phone to powerful router hardware. Have a look.

Basically there are 2 scenario's:

 - Internet Sharing using a 3G WIFI router 

 - Internet Sharing using Windows using ICS (Internet Connection Sharing)

Go here to see all 3G internet sharing solutions in one view.


3G internet sharing by WIFI router

Here are 3 solutions:

Internet connection sharing by WIFI router using 3G USB modem stick Share 3G internet in a WIFI network
3G antenna - share 3G over WIFI share 3G connection over WIFI using a smartphone
3G internet connection sharing using a portable WIFI router
Share 3G internet over WIFI using 3G routers

Your iPad 3G signal is weak? Have a look at boosting your iPad 3G reach and speed.

3G smartphone / iphone ad-hoc WIFI router

Your smartphone (iPhone, Nokia N95/N97 etc.) can be changed into a micro WIFI router using additional software. This solution uses ad-hoc WIFI networking. Ad-hoc WIFI not well known but it works for most.

Ad-hoc WIFI is ideal for those who are tech savvy. Read about it in sharing a 3G connection using a Nokia N95 in France.

Or much simpler - 3G internet in France for iPad and cellphone

For those who favor a more simple 3G internet connection sharing solution, have a look at the 3G portable WIFI router.

3G portable WIFI router

This nifty portable device - known as the MIFI - allows you to share a 3G internet connection on your laptop, notebook or netbook. The SIM card of the wireless network operator goes into the portable WIFI router. WIFI access settings such are WEP/WPA keys are set in the MIFI 3G portable WIFI router.

The MIFI is available in 2 versions, CDMA-EVDO (US) and UMTS/HSPA (Europe) - with the HSPA version as the most popular one.

A more flexible solution for global travelers is the WIFI router capable of using external 3G USB modem sticks. Though more WIFI networking experience is required here.

3G protable routers  - UMTS - HSPA & CDMA - EVDO
MIFI's through US Amazon MIFI's through Amazon Germany MIFI's through Amazon UK
MIFI 3G routers from Novatel


WIFI router using 3G USB modem stick

WIFI routers capable of sharing a 3G cellular internet connection over a 3G USB modem stick are primarily designed to use it as a fall-back internet connection in case the main wired internet connection fails. This fall-back feature can also be used as the primary internet connection.

The portable CradlePoint PHS300 does all this on internal battery in case there's no AC mains.

A new 2010 development is the Netgear 300N WIFI router allowing to share USB 3G as well as USB 4G internet connections, such as WiMAX.

Here are examples of G3 USB data modems.

3G internet sharing by Windows ICS

Below an overview how to share a 3G internet connection using the Windows Internet Connection Sharing service.

Share 3G connection over WIFI from Smartphone using Windows ICS Share 3G connection over WIFI using Windows ICS and WIFI router Share 3G connection over WIFI with many others
3G antenna - share internet over WIFI
Share 3G connection over WIFI from USB stick Share 3G connection over WIFI using windows ICS
Share 3G internet connection over WIFI using Windows ICS

Windows ICS over ad-hoc WIFI connection

Ad-Hoc WIFI can be used together with Windows ICS (Internet Connection Sharing). Both are less known features and require quite a bit of Windows knowledge and WIFI experience to make it work.

Ad-Hoc WIFI is similar to connecting 2 computers with a normal network cable - with Ad-hoc WIFI the connection is wireless.

Windows ICS is a standard LAN sharing facility in Windows XP and onwards. Your laptop acts as a simple router with Windows ICS.

The solution is not hassle free, specially if different brands of WIFI connection managers are involved. For instance the DELL WIFI connection manager behaves quite differently with Ad-Hoc WIFI access points than the Intel WIFI connection manager or the Windows WIFI connection manager.

Two steps are required to share a 3G signal from a USB internet stick / pendrive;

1) Create a simple WIFI ad-hoc connection with 2 WIFI capable computers.

Essential is a WIFI manager capable of creating Ad-Hoc connections, such a Windows Zero Configuration (WZC) service.

Ad Hoc WIFI setup using Windows Connection Manager (WZC)
Ad Hoc Wifi setup using Windows Connection manager - Wireless Zero Configuration (WZC)  
Windows WIFI Connection manager - How to setup an Ad-Hoc WIFI connection

2) Share the 3G USB internet connection over the established WIFI ad-hoc connection using Windows ICS. Critical is previous experience with Windows ICS.

For those who don't want to mess around with WIFI settings, using an external portable WIFI router eases connection hassles. This solution is preferred for those who have no experience in dealing with WIFI ad-hoc networking.

Portable WIFI router

A portable WIFI router is a versatile device allowing anyone to create a WIFI access point on the spot. Most portable WIFI routers have 2 inputs; Classic phone-line dial-up and UTP network cable input. In this scenario the internet connection comes from the laptop, notebook or netbook using Windows ICS. Power comes from either AC power adapter or a USB cable connected to a laptop, notebook or netbook.

Share 3G connection over WIFI - Portable WIFI hotspot / access point
The D-link DWL-G730AP portable WIFI hotspot / access point
D-Link DWL-G730AP portable WIFI hotspot

The D-Link DWL-G730AP portable WIFI hotspot is very popular among (business) travelers. The portable CradlePoint PHS300 does the same using an internal battery and 3G / 4G USB modem pen drives / sticks.

3G internet at home or office W3G internet signal booster 3G internet prepaid prepay scratch sim cards



3G USB modem stick

USB based G3 data modems are very popular in Europe and on the rise in Asia and the Middle-East. Same as with the MIFI, there are 2 standards, EVDO for the US and Australia, HSPA for Europe and Asia. HSPA is gaining momentum over EVDO, though check with the cellular provider what standard they use.

Huawei e220 HSDPA UMTS EDGE GPRS GSM USB dongle modem
Huawei e220 3G HSDPA UMTS EDGE GPRS GSM USB dongle modem and MoviData simcard

When there's an incompatible 3G signal available, internet connection speed will usually drop to GSM based slower data standards such as EDGE (2,5G) or GPRS (2G). Though check the specification of the 3G USB modem stick what GSM standard it supports.

The USB modems are small in size and have 1 or 2 leds as connection indicators. For 3G connection diagnosis, the LED's are a bit flimsy. A smart phone with 3G modem has a display to show the connection status and allows better diagnostics and direct viewing of traffic counters (bytes received / sent).

3G USB data modem
HSPA modems - works in Europe / Asia
EVDO modems - for the US / Australia


3G Smartphone modem

3G smart phones, such as the Nokia N95/N97 and the iPhone, use the HSPA / HSDPA 3G protocol. When there's an incompatible EVDO based 3G signal available, internet connection speed usually drops back to the 2,5G EDGE / (2G) GPRS protocol which is a slower speed based on older GSM standards. Most smart phones are QuadBand making them work in the US/Australia/Japan as well as on European/Asian soil for voice as well as data (internet) connections.

Have a look at: Making online backups over 3G / WIFI connections

Background info:

- HSPA is gaining moment on EVDO