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Monday, December 11, 2000
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Sharing your Internet Connection


For a family with multiple PCs and other Internet devices, Internet connection sharing allows one person to send e-mail, another to play an online game, and yet another to browse the Web. While sharing the Internet you can also chat, do video conferencing and download a music file all at the same time, says Vipul Verma

Three years ago, when I learnt that people in the USA were so addicted to e-mail that a father preferred to communicate with his son through e-mail, despite living in the same house, I was quite surprised. But now that the same thing is happening in India, it appears to be quite normal. The Internet and e-mail have become a routine, an essential part of life.

This growing awareness and subsequent addiction to the Net in our country has compelled most families to have a PC with an Internet connection. It is largely because of the Internet that a new segment called the Home PC has gained prominence in the past few years. But, despite the low hardware cost, the Internet is still a distant dream for many people and has not been exploited to its full potential because the recurring cost associated with it is high.


Though there are several popular methods available today for connecting to the Internet, like dial-up connections, ISDN, DSL, Internet-over-cable, leased lines, etc, but the most popular method of Internet connectivity is still dialling-up. Other methods like the ISDN and DSL are still not available at many places and also, due to the high cost associated with the hardware, they are by and large out of the reach of the common man. Thus, in a majority of cases, you will find that people use the dial-up method of connecting to the Internet.

In dial-up connectivity, the recurring cost is high. Besides the amount charged by the ISP for providing the services, the normal PSTN charges or the telephone charges amount to Rs 24 per hour. If two persons have to work on the Internet, the cost actually doubles. Now here arises the need for Net sharing. If two or more computers can share an Internet connection, then the actual cost of using the Internet connection per computer comes down drastically and makes surfing very economical.

Not only individuals, but also large companies providing software and solutions have realised the importance of Internet sharing. It was during March 1999, when Bill Gates announced launch of Internet Explorer 5, he described Internet Connection Sharing as one of the important enhancements in Microsoft® Windows® ’98 Second Edition (SE). This enables multiple users to seamlessly and securely accesses the Web at the same time using a single shared Internet connection. Internet connection sharing technology provides the ability to share a single connection to the Internet to the home and small-business PC users who have networked computers.

For a family with multiple PCs and other Internet devices, Internet connection sharing allows one person to send e-mail, another to play an online game, and yet another to browse the Web. While sharing the Internet you can also chat, do video conferencing and download music file all at the same time. However, the success of Internet sharing largely depends on the speed, bandwidth and stability of the Internet connections. Microsoft has provided this features in all operating systems after Windows ’98 SE, making it a part of Windows 2000, Windows Me.

Further, in addition to allowing multiple PCs to share a single connection, Internet connection sharing also makes the Internet accessible to Universal Plug and Play consumer appliances on the home network, such as Web phones, smart TVs, set-top boxes, and so on. This is a great and revolutionary feature, which has not yet been fully exploited.

However, in order to share an Internet connection, you must have LAN on the system, which could be based on any Internet technology like Ethernet, Wireless Internet, Phone line etc. Thus on a LAN any number of users can share the Internet through a single connection. Here all connected computers get simple, transparent network configuration using Internet protocols (DNS and DHCP) to resolve the Net names to addresses. Any Internet protocol attached device can be connected, which may or may not include the Windows clients only. Furthermore, in addition to this, there are no additional client software required, which forms the basic requirement in cases when the Internet is being shared using the proxy servers.

How to connect computers to share Internet using the Windows 98 SE feature: The method of connecting computers to share a single Internet connection is simple. All you need to do is use a PC running on Windows ’98 SE or Windows 2000 with the Internet connection sharing service-enabled or installed as the case may be. Other computers (and devices) at home, which are connected through a LAN network, can then access the Internet through the connection on the PC with Internet connection sharing. The basic components in Windows 2000 and Windows ’98 SE include:

CP allocator: CP allocator is basically a simplified dynamic host configuration protocol service that assigns IP address, gateway, and name server on the local network.

DNS proxy: The main purpose of the DNS proxy is to resolves names on behalf of local network clients and forwards queries.

Network address translation (NAT): Network address translation maps a set of private addresses to a set of public addresses.

Auto-dial: Auto-dial component of Windows 98 (SE) and Windows 2000 makes connections automatically.

Though for the end-users these terms may have academic value, yet it is essential to understand the basic difference and also the essential Net sharing features of the Windows 98 SE and also Windows 2000.

The users, who want to share the Internet connectivity, can easily enable Internet connection sharing, using the add/remove programs applet in Windows ’98, and using the network connection wizard and dial-up properties facilities in Windows 2000.

Since the PC, which is running on the Windows ’98 SE and Windows, becomes a gateway for the purpose of sharing the Net and the other PCs or other Internet connecting devices connect to the gateway.

If you do not have a LAN at your end and have to start from a scratch for sharing the Internet, then you may require the following hardware and software to set up a home network

A primary PC, which will have Windows 98 SE or Windows 2000 loaded on it that will be called gateway and which will be the network’s connection to the Internet. However, make sure that this computer must have the Internet connection sharing service installed and enabled. Multiple PCs running on any version of Windows like Windows 95/98, Windows NT® 4.0, Windows 2000, or other TCP-IP enabled client software can be connected to the main PC or gateway. Besides the main computer, you will also require a network connection device for each PC and device like the Ethernet cards (or more popularly known as LAN cards,) cabling and hubs, depending on the type of connection devices you use. Other hardware would include a single modem, depending on the connection used; you can either have a normal dial-up modem or an ISDN modem.

As software you will just require Internet browser software and TCP/IP drivers installed on each device that will share the connection.

This makes the network Internet-sharing enabled and one can enjoy the Net connection with the entire network.

Some other methods of sharing the Internet are using the IP routers — this is a hardware, which allows the sharing of Internet connectivity, with other computers on the network

Those who are still using the earlier versions of Windows can also enjoy the Internet sharing by using the proxy server software. The functioning of the Internet sharing is the same and also requires a LAN-based network on computer.

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