Beginners Guide To Tethering Mobile Devices


Tethering means using your cell phone or other mobile device as a modem to deliver Internet to your laptop or other computer. Tethering is a tremendous workaround if you find yourself somewhere without Wi-Fi and want to use the Internet on your computer.

In another classic instance of smartphones making things easier, tethering is simply a matter of downloading the correct app and putting in the appropriate settings.

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The Basics

You will need: A smartphone with a 3G or 4G data plan, and some software. Free software like Android Wi-Fi Tether takes a lot more work to set up, but it is, of course, the least expensive option. Other apps cost up to $30, but make things much more user-friendly.

The app on your phone will change the settings so that your device turns the 3G or 4G data into sharable Internet, and then delivers it to your laptop via Bluetooth or USB. Meanwhile, the same app installed on your computer prepares the laptop to receive the network, because it works a little differently than traditional Wi-Fi or Ethernet.

Find a good how-to article that applies to your phone, and just follow the instructions.

Legality And Logistics

In August 2012, the FCC ruled that Verizon must allow tethering for all customers with a data plan, which confirmed the legality of the technique.Tethering has never been better. Check your plan to determine whether tethering is included in your plan, free as long as you remain under your data cap, or pay-as-you-go. Soon after the August decision, AT&T also changed its plans to include tethering.

Tethering for iPhone is more difficult. Even though Verizon and AT&T must allow tethering, Apple has decided not to offer any tethering apps on iTunes, which is a separate legal battle that has yet to begin. So for now, if you want to tether on your iPhone you have to jailbreak it then download PDANet or another tethering app.

Furthermore, a new version of iTether is back and better than ever, which is great news for iPhone users. Instead of working as a downloadable app from the Apple store (which it once was before Apple said no, no, no), it runs on HTML5 in your browser, for $30/year. Better than nothing.

Other Apps

Now that you know all about tethering, go ahead and download an app for your Android phone.

If you don’t want to pay for PdaNet and Android Wi-Fi Tether is too tech-y for you, consider Proxoid, a free app that turns your phone into a proxy server. Just play with some settings on your phone and laptop, and Bob’s your uncle. There are a bunch of other apps, too. PdaNet even makes a free version that runs a less secure network (no HTTPS), if you want to try it out and see how you like tethering.

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