Tethering is exhilarating

February 23, 2010 10:25 am | 40 Comments

I love my iPhone. That sentiment doubled the day I followed Nat Torkington’s pointer to Ten Second iPhone Tethering. Later that month I flew to Boston and basked in the freedom of having an Internet connection at the airport and hotel without paying wifi fees.

Then it all came crashing down. iPhone 3.1 came out. I had to choose between visual voicemail and tethering or consider jailbreaking my iPhone. Tech support in my household is limited (me) so I said goodbye to tethering. I’m back to paying hotels $10 per day to use their wifi, or signing up for a day of T-Mobile Hotspot usage at Starbucks.

Then I got my Nexus One. I really like it. It’s a huge improvement over the G1 I got last year. iPhone is still my dominant phone, but I carry the Nexus One and Palm Pre with me and am spending more time on the Nexus One.

I’m gearing up for some travel so revisited the topic of tethering. I was stunned when I spoke to AT&T tech support two days ago and they told me they support tethering. How did I miss this?! Then the guy said I had to jailbreak my iPhone. It seems weird to have tech support recommend jailbreaking. I guess that’s a result of the AT&T/Apple love/hate relationship. Same story with Palm Pre – gotta jailbreak it.

My hopes rose when I found articles saying you could tether with Nexus One. I installed PdaNet. That went smoothly. It works on Mac and Windows. I’m Mac at home but when I travel I take my Windows laptop, so that’s the critical platform for tethering. I’m always wary of new installations bogging down Windows, but PdaNetPC.exe is only 17M of memory and 0% of CPU when not in use, so I’m fine with that running in the background.

I tested it last night at home, but the real test was this morning. I stopped for coffee at Peets, booted up Windows, tethered my Nexus One, opened a ssh session, and drove to work. At every stoplight I verified my ssh session session was still active. I was reading email, surfing the Web.  It was exhilarating. I know that’s incredibly geeky to say, but I revel in the freedom it gives me. +1 for tethering without jailbreaking. All smartphones should do this.

40 Responses to Tethering is exhilarating

  1. I hope you were surfing the web IN BETWEEN the stoplights. It’s hard enough to resist texting while driving…

    Nice write up. Thanks.

  2. I feel the same about my 3G modem. I can get internet anywhere, and at a pretty fast speed, too.
    I can’t really justify the cost, but I can’t give it up.

  3. Always amusing to read about the woes of people using locked in environments.

    It is stuff like this that makes me appreciate my n900 more.

  4. You can tether with the Palm Pre with software called myTether.


  5. Could you tether with the standard plan or are there extra fees? Tethering on the Mac could be just the thing to push my into buying my first new phone in half a decade.

  6. @Sean: Do you have to jailbreak your Pre?

    @Craig: This was the normal plan – no additional fees.

  7. Nokia S60 phones have had a great tethering app, Joikuspot, for a couple of years now. I use it all the time. I particularly enjoy creating a wifi spot for my iPhone friends with it.


  8. I do the same thing with Proxoid, mainly because PDANet costs money (after a free trial) vs free for Proxoid, and Proxoid works on Linux. I often use it to allow me to work while the wife drives us cross country. It’s very, very nice.

  9. Actually ur statement is partially true about Palm Pre. Palm Pre on Sprint do not offer tethering out of the box but is available through mytether.net. But Palm Pre Plus available through Verizon offer tethering out of the box without jailbreak. Please clarify so readers understand it correctly. WebOS offer tethering just not on Sprint. Also Palm tethering is like mifi where you can use ur internet on Pre Plus and on laptop at the sametime without wires.

  10. i recently jailbroke my iPhone 3.1 to experiment with tethering. jailbreaking introduced all kinds of problems, including signal dropping to zero at random times when trying to make a call or browse web sites. eventually one of these zero-signal events caused a crash that was only recoverable by an emergency reinstall of the iPhone OS, causing me to lose many contacts, messages, pictures, etc.

    so back to no tethering until apple/at+t enable it.

  11. For the Palm Pre Plus:

    Tethering is available on Verizon, but for something like $40 extra a month.

    For the Palm Pre and Palm Pre Plus:

    Tethering is available on Sprint and Verizon with myTether, and it does not require jailbreaking, just turning Developer Mode on the Pre, and installing the myTether app.

    myTether has a GUI installation if you donate a one time fee of $10 to them, or a more an installation without a GUI if you choose not to donate.

    Developer Mode is done simply by entering “upupdowndownleftrightleftrightbastart” into the Pre.

    There are more detailed instructions on the myTether site.


  12. Correction: “…or an installation without a GUI if you choose not to donate.”

  13. More links on the subject:



    Just to let everyone know, sometimes the new version of WebOS breaks myTether.

    Good luck everyone!

  14. Have you tried TetherBerry (now “Tether”) with a blackberry? Works well, no recurring fees, one time app purchase.

  15. Just to be clear, the Palm SDK also needs to be installed on your computer in order to install myTether with the GUI. myTether currently works with the latest WebOS 1.4.

  16. I’ve done this with Windows mobile for the last 4 years!

  17. My 18-month old iPhone is the first phone I have not used in tethered mode since 1995. It still irritates me that I can’t, but on the other hand the iPhone GUI is so good that I almost never actually need to use my laptop when I’m out and about.

    Wish AT&T would just enable it already, but I’ve stopped expecting they will…

  18. You should OEM unlock the Nexus One and installed CyanogenMod. The features added to the mix are pretty slick: 360 degree accelerometer rotation, customized trackball color notifications, updated phone software, updated contact software and built-in tethering.


  19. People make out jailbreaking to be a lot worse than it is. In reality (although it’s not available yet on the latest firmware), it’s generally a matter of downloading a program, clicking a button, and waiting 60 seconds. You now have enough rope to hang yourself, but if you just install what you need (in this case, probably MyWi), you’ll be fine.

    erik, I’m sorry about your phone, but if you didn’t install an unlock (which sometimes have problems, but aren’t necessary if you have AT&T), it’s unlikely any signal strength issues are the result of the jailbreak.

  20. Peter S go back and read the article, at&t allows it. It is Apple’s firmware that does not allow it, blame Apple.

  21. BlackBerry’s are even easier: They show up as Bluetooth Dial-Up Networking devices. Send a single setup-string to them as an init string, then ‘dial’ *99#, and you’re on-line. No laptop-side software running at all.

    Until Android or iPhone or Palm or someone gets that, I’ll likely stick to my CrackBerry for that reason alone. Nothing is easier for tethering.

  22. Well for me teathering works fine on my iPhone, via USB and bluetooth, nd infact support for teathering and cut/paste brought me back from jailbreaking.
    However our Data charges are draconian. I pay NZ$97/month for 250MB.
    Luckily I dont rely on 3G data, as I have access to wifi at work and home. I only use it occasionally when on call.

  23. With the iphone if you get pdanet (costs about $30, but totally worth it) you can have both your visual voice mail and your tethering.

  24. I’ve been using PDANet on my Palm Centro for over a year now. It’s awesome on a stick. One more reason why I’d never by an iPhone.

  25. Yeah, tethering is very useful tool to add to a mobile computing toolkit- better still is wireless tethering.
    That is how I connect with a Motorola Droid when away from free WiFi hotspots.
    Additional benefits include: no cable to carry around, no software running on the client pc and it works with ANY client OS: it is simply a network connection.

    “Rooting” the Droid is required to use the Wireless Tether, but that is a simple process at this point and brings numerous other advantages as well. (Can you say you have a 1.2 Ghz cpu in your phone?)

  26. I’m confused. I’m in southern Ontario mind you and therefore not on AT&T…but, the iPhone OS supports tethering. Settings / General / Network / Internet Tethering. From there it’s easy. I use it all the time. Full on 3G connection and not jailbroken! I think it’s AT&T that doesn’t support tethering. Not iPhone.

  27. In Windows Mobile 6.5 tethering works great. It has been for many years. There are even three ways to do it:
    * usb
    * bluetooth
    * wifi (phone becomes acces point)

  28. Iphone jailbreaking takes less than 5 minutes,is automated. Why not jailbreak it? I’ve been using it since last summer,it works great.

  29. US consumers get royally screwed by their wireless carriers and obviously like it. If you are going to let the carrier provide only locked devices, and devices that have had features removed and you do nothing about it – then you give them a license to continue their behaviour with tethering and any other way to nickel and dime you.

    Roaming charges are another example. They could easily create low cost reciprocal agreements with offshore carriers – but they don’t because it suits them not to and they can always say it was the other carriers fees – while at the same time charging the same outrageous fees to those roaming into their network. It wouldn’t surprise me that these prices are set by a consortium of carriers.

    Where I live, call minutes are more expensive, and data plans too – but I get an unlocked iPhone with tethering support from my local Vodafone – so I am pleased with that.

    It’s absolutely ATT that dictates what carrier services are on or off (tethering or network locking) – Apple put in place the mechanism but each carrier defines it’s carrier profile for the iPhone.

  30. In the Netherlands (Europe) the iPhone on a T-Mobile contract also supports tethering. Settings / General / Network / Internet Tethering.

  31. This article is misleading: tethering is wonderfully supported in “regular” iPhone OS 3.1.x, I use it every day with TRE mobile operator in Italy and I tested it in UK too. You basically only have to switch on the tethering option in Settings and it works (USB/Bluetooth)
    The issue is probably with AT&T, not with the iPhone itself

  32. I’m tethered on an iPhone right now. I am paying O2 (UK) £10/11€ extra for 3 GB of data. However don’t expect your battery to last too long, after about 5 to 6 hours mine is out.

    Getting the tethering working in Vista over Bluetooth took only a few mins.

  33. It’s very sad to see that you americans are held hostage by your greedy operators, refusing you to tether your net connection to make full use of the smartphone you pay so much for.

    Here in Sweden (and, I believe, in most of Europe) our operators have allowed tethering on the iPhones they sell since day one – I’m personally on a flatrate subscription with no bandwidth or traffic amount limitation, that costs me the same as most other “Turbo3G + USB modem” package deals; circa 25 eur / month.

  34. Yes, I agree: tethering is cool. It is cool today, and it was quite cool also in 2001, when I was doing it with a Nokia phone, infrared and a Dell laptop. It has been cool ever since, and Nokia has been supporting it since, as somebody observes, the early neolithic.

    Apple users get really excited about tethering is a bit like someone being happy because space aliens removed his ears, and then glued them back on.

  35. FYI, we’re the publishers of EasyTether for Android. Works on the Nexus One with support for both 32 and 64-bit Windows. And at $9.95 it’s less than half the price of PdaNet:


  36. Let’s be clear: the iPhone tethering problem is not an iPhone problem, it is an AT&T problem. I tether on an unlocked iPhone on Rogers in Canada – the only requirement by Rogers is that you have a data plan of one gigabyte or more. The iPhone is perfectly capable of supporting tethering without any hacking (there is a lovely little gadget to enable it in the configuration)… *IF* the provider allows it to be there. AT&T does not.

  37. I’ve been tethering on my iPhone in Canada on the Rogers network since I got it last summer. Works great in Canada and even where there is free WiFi I don’t even bother sometimes as I get better bandwidth than some clogged pipe at Starbucks.

  38. Thanks for all the great feedback and pointers. My comments about iPhone not tethering are totally based on me being in the US and thus forced to use AT&T.

    @Beseiged: Still, if you want to use PdaNet on the iPhone you have to jailbreak the iPhone.

  39. Steve,

    It is really refreshing to read that I was not the only one that really needed tethering.

    My story though was that when I called AT&T they insisted that tethering is illegal (against their TOS). I tried to tether as less as possible since my daily commute is 5 hours, 3 of which on the train. You can understand that I need tethering so that I can do some work while on the train.

    After jailbreaking the iPhone and using tethering this way everything was perfect. I was using the iPhoneModem application (I had the 2G model) and was a happy camper.

    When I decided to switch to Nexus One (I have documented this here: http://www.niden.net/2010/02/from-iphone-to-nexus-one-review/) I had to find a way to tether.

    The Cyanogen mod (for the root access to the Nexus One) is a hit and miss. I have read a lot of posts of people that either loved it or hated it. I opted not to install that.

    The tethering options were either PDANet or EasyTether. I wanted to be able to tether my notebook without any cables so PDANet won (they offer Bluetooth DUN – EasyTether is still working on it).

    Even with the slow EDGE network of AT&T through the Nexus One I manage to get work done and download files that I need. It is a pain to wait since the connection is not the fastest one but it works.

    [quote]+1 for tethering without jailbreaking. All smartphones should do this.[/quote]

    Amen to that!

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