This website is using cookies. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. More info. That's Fine
HPC:Factor Logo 

Using a Shared Internet Connection over a LAN with DHCP


Applies To

  • Windows CE 2.0, SP1
  • Handheld PC Professional, SP1
  • Handheld PC 2000
  • Windows CE 4.0, 4.1, 4.2 .net
  • Windows CE 5.0


Once you have successfully installed your Home Network environment, or wish to move your Handheld PC from your home environment into another network to access the Internet, you will need to ensure that your Handheld PC is configured in such a way that it can connect to and negotiate the network and out onto the Internet.

This article overviews the steps involved in using a shared Internet connection over a LAN.

More Info

When the TCP/IP networking protocol layer was established, one of the biggest problems facing administrators was the process of migrating a network device (PC, PDA, Printer, Server) from one network, or one part of the network to another. Each object on a TCP/IP network requires a series of unique credentials, and information regarding its network environment in order to become an active part of the infrastructure. These details had to be entered manually, with network administrators having to create, manage and remember schema for the network and every device connected to it.

In an attempt to radically simplify the administrative procedures, a new protocol was added by the IETF in to the TCP/IP standard. Named Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, or DHCP for short. The new network layer was designed to allow network client devices to obtain the majority of their network information directly from a network server running a DHCP host.

DHCP uses the TCP/IP broadcast channels (effectively a configuration and chatter area for non-client related data) to send a request out onto any available network asking for configuration details. When received by a listening server, the DHCP host allocates network resources from a database and sends back remote time leased configuration information for that particular network device.
On it's most elementary level this contains 5 pieces of information, though DHCP is able to configure much more on advanced networks.

  1. Device IP address
  2. Network Subnet Mask
  3. Default Gateway / Default Router
  4. Preferred DNS Server
  5. DHCP Lease expiration Date & Time

Users who have followed the HPC:Factor networking beginners guides, and the Internet Connection Sharing guides will almost certainly wish to make use of automatically configurable networking for their Handheld PC. This is especially important if you are using a Wireless Network, where manually configuring network settings is often not even possible.
If your setup is using Microsoft Internet Connection Sharing at its heart, or makes use of a modern hardware router, then you already have the facilities in place on your network to migrate away from static addressing and use DHCP to manage your systems.

For users of Microsoft Internet Connection Sharing

Upon completing the Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) configuration under Windows 98SE, Windows Millennium, Windows 2000 or Windows XP and rebooting your computer. Your ICS Host PC will automatically be configured to provide DHCP support to your Network.

ICS uses the 192.168.0.x IP range on a subnet. While it is possible to change this range on some of the Windows versions, the process is beyond the scope of these beginners guides.

The ICS Host is the only PC on the network which requires a static IP address, and this is automatically configured by the ICS wizard.

For users of a Hardware Router solution

Anyone with a hardware Dial-up, ISDN, Cable or xDSL router solution will have the necessary capability to provide DHCP to your network using the router. In many cases the DHCP functionality of the router will not be enabled by default and may not have any configuration information.

Router users should explore the availability of firmware updates before attempting to configure their router, as such updates can improve reliability and stability as well as add new features.

Consult with the users manual and quick start guide which came with your router on the steps involved in accessing the web / telnet configuration interface to begin setting up the DHCP server.
Generally speaking most consumer orientated routers will be configured to use the 192.168.0.x or 192.168.1.x IP range, on a subnet.
We recommend that you accept the default suggested addressing schema for your router when setting it up.

Unlike in an ICS setup, where the ICS Host becomes a manually addressed. With a router based configuration there is no requirement for a PC on the network to be statically addressed. This role is performed by the router, negating the need to permanently keep the host PC running.

How-to Guide

Once your Internet Connection Sharing system, or hardware router has been setup successfully. The configuration of the Handheld PC to make use of the DHCP server is a simple one.

  1. Locate any required driver files written for your H/PC version and processor which will enable you to use your Wired or Wireless Network Adapter - The HPC:Factor Hardware Compatibility List maintains a library of driver files and provides a good place to start when searching for both compatible hardware, and targeted drivers
  2. Windows CE 2.00 only - Install the HPC:Factor Network Service Pack (NSP) onto your H/PC and soft reset
  3. Using ActiveSync, or by hand install the drivers onto the Handheld PC as per the instructions, ensuring to soft reset once completed
  4. On the device, tap Start
  5. Point to Settings and tap Control Panel
  6. Double Tap the Network Applet to launch the Network Configuration
  7. In the adapters list locate and highlight your Wired / Wireless Network Interface Card (Network Adapter)
  8. Tap Properties
  9. On the IP Address tab, ensure that a check is placed next to Obtain an IP address via DHCP
  10. Open the Name Servers tab and ensure that both the Primary DNS and Secondary DNS fields are blank
  11. Tap OK to close the Adapter configuration and then again to close the Network Configuration
  12. At this point the adapter has been configured to make use of a DHCP server on your home network. Additional steps will be required to configure a wireless network adapter to communicate with its base station or other adapters. For more details consult your documentation
  13. Attach the cable to the adapter (if applicable) and insert the Network adapter into the PCMCIA or CF slot
  14. If your adapter has a LED on its exterior, or on the dongle it will light up at this point, after waiting a few seconds your network long-on with the DHCP server will be complete

If you are unsure of whether your device has obtained an IP address from the DHCP server, you can use a third party utility such as the IP utility in the H/PC Plus Pack, or a dedicated program such as Cambridge Computing's vxUtil.


If you are experiencing trouble connecting your Handheld PC to a DHCP server, the first sign will usually be when Windows CE displays an error alerting you to the fact that it has been unable to contact a DHCP server.

If soft resetting, and ejecting/reinserting the adapter does not resolve the problem then you should investigate whether the DHCP is working with other computers on the network. If another computer is successful in obtaining an IP address, the most likely cause of the problem is the Driver or the cable in the case of a Wired LAN adapter, or in the case of a Wireless adapter a Security / Interference problem.

Always ensure that your adapter is compatible with your version of Windows CE (CE 2.0, 2.11, 4.2), version of the H/PC platform (H/PC Pro, HPC2000) and the processor (SH3, MIPS, StrongARM) in your device. Suitable drivers should be located to match all three.