How do I connect my Pocket PC to the internet?

There are three common ways to get your Pocket PC online: By using the WIFI radio on your Pocket PC to connect directly to a WIFI access point; By connecting to your cellular provider’s data network; and by using ActiveSync’s internet passthrough connection.  

Connect to a WIFI Access Point

If your Pocket PC is WIFI enabled, you can connect to the internet via a WIFI access point.  To verify that your Pocket PC is WIFI enabled, tap Start > Settings > System tab > Asset Viewer.  If you find a Wireless LAN module, then your Pocket PC is WIFI enabled.  If your Pocket PC is not WIFI enabled, there are SDIO WIFI cards you can purchase to make the Pocket PC WIFI enabled. 

You will encounter many different WIFI access point configurations:

  • Free (Open) Hotspots: All you need to do to use a free hotspot is turn on the Pocket PC’s WIFI radio, the Pocket PC will detect the access point and connect. When the light turns from yellow to green on the Pocket PC WIFI button, the device is connected to the internet and you can start surfing.  The website,, provides an index of many different free hotspots around the world you might want to check out. 
  • “Subscription” Hotspots:  Your Pocket PC may detect these networks and even connect to them, but you will not be able to use them until you open up Internet Explorer and provide some additional information, such as a login and password or your credit card account number. TMobile, Boingo, Wayport, and iPass are common subscription hotspot networks, that charge anywhere from $20 – $40 a month.  Some hotels provide private WIFI networks which are free to guests, but you’ll usually need to open your browser and enter an access code before you can use the network.  For these hotels, you can usually inquire at the front desk or review the hotel information material in the room to get the access code.  Many hotels provide private WIFI networks for a daily access fee ranging from $8 to $10. The website,, provides an index of many different hotspots (mostly subscription, but some free ones are there too). 
  • Encrypted or secure networks:  Your Pocket PC may detect secure networks, but the WIFI button will not turn green and you will not be able to connect to these networks unless you configure your Pocket PC with specific security information relative to the network, which you must get from the owner of the network. These networks will show up with a small lock next to them when you tap the Manager > Site Survey tab and view the “Available Networks” screen on your Pocket PC.  Employers, Universities, and personal networks generally implement secure networks.

In many public hotspots, whether free or paid, you will need to open a new browser window on your Pocket PC before you can use email, instant messaging, or perform other internet functions. The browser window may pop up a screen for you to log in, or to click “Okay” to the hotspot’s terms and conditions.

To prevent spammers from using their network, some hotspots may block the use of third-party SMTP servers, which means you may not be able to send email from these hotspots.  You may be able to get the hotspot’s SMTP server information and update your email messaging account settings.  But it would probably be easier to use web-based email to send email from these locations.

For detailed instruction on connecting to WIFI Access Points, see my article entitled, “Connect your Pocket PC to a WIFI Access Point.” 

Connect to Cellular Provider’s Data Network

A completely different way to get your Pocket PC connected to the internet is by connecting through your cellular provider’s data network. If you plan to use this type of connection, you should subscribe to your cellular provider’s data plan, since data connection charges are charged IN ADDITION TO regular cellular services and you will get charged a premium for data services if you do not subscribe to a data plan. 

Connect via ActiveSync Internet Passthrough Connection

The third way you can get on the internet with your Pocket PC is by using ActiveSync’s internet passthrough connection on your computer. Here, your computer’s internet connection is passed through ActiveSync to the Pocket PC, either through a wired or Bluetooth connection. 

Once you have enabled ActiveSync’s passthrough connection, you can open up Internet Explorer on your Pocket PC and start surfing the internet.  To enable ActiveSync’s internet passthrough connection:

ActiveSync 3.8: 

  • Open up ActiveSync on your computer.
  • Select Options > Rules
  • Check to see if “Internet” is in the window next to “To use passthrough this computer is connected to:” 

ActiveSync 4.x:

  • Open up ActiveSync on your computer. 
  • Select File > Connection Settings.
  • Select “Open ActiveSync when my device connects”
  • In the box under This computer is connected to:” You have three choices “Automatic”, “Work Network”, and “The Internet.”  Select the setting that best applies to your internet connection.

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