Real-world iPhone tethering

Real-world iPhone tethering

Summary: Yesterday I had a scheduled appointment at my local auto dealership to have an iPod interface installed in our Prius (more on that later). Knowing that I'd have to wait and estimated hour and a half for my car, I took the opportunity to test iPhone tethering to my MacBook Pro using the excellent PDAnet application.

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A great reason to jailbreak: tetheringYesterday I had a scheduled appointment at my local auto dealership to have an iPod interface installed in our Prius (more on that later). Knowing that I'd have to wait and estimated hour and a half for my car, I took the opportunity to test iPhone tethering to my MacBook Pro using the excellent PDAnet application.

For the uninitiated, tethering allows another computer (i.e. a notebook) to share a mobile phone’s 3G Internet connection. AT&T has stated that they're working with Apple on official iPhone tethering and that it will be available soon. The problem is that it's not available now and that it'll most likely cost an additional US$10 per month over and above your US$30/mo. "unlimited" data plan.

The good news is that free tethering is available right now for the iPhone 3G and its super easy to set up. The bad news is that you have to jailbreak your iPhone to do it. As I've previously posted tethering is the single best reason to JB your iPhone.

Here's how to do it...

  1. JB your iPhone (I recommend QuickPwn 1.1 from the iPhone Dev Team)
  2. Launch Cydia and search for “PDAnet”
  3. Download and install it

To use PDAnet, create an ad-hoc network on your MacBook:

  1. Click on the Airport icon at the top of the screen
  2. Select Create Network and give it a name (WEP encryption is recommended)
  3. On iPhone go to Settings >WiFi and select the network you created in step 2
  4. Start surfing on your MacBook

It really couldn't be any easier.

One distinct advantage of PDAnet is that it gives you full Internet access on the computer, all applications make direct TCP/IP connections to the server. Other tethering solutions only work with applications that support Socks proxy. Since PDAnet doesn't use a proxy you'll have less problems/delays and VPNs will work.

The only downside I've found is that using PDAnet drains the iPhone's battery very quickly. Rob Parker joked with me that he could literally watch the battery icon go down while using it and after yesterday I know what he was talking about it. I used PDAnet for about an hour while waiting at the dealership and I think that it used about 50 percent of my iPhone's battery. I got the 20% warning on my iPhone 3G just before 3 p.m. yesterday, where I can usually make it through the day.

I wonder what the fate of PDAnet will be in light of AT&T and Apple's impending tethering plan? Will Apple invoke their infamous kill switch once officially tethering is available? Can they even do that to JB apps?

Here's a thought: give us tethering for free as part of our US$30/month data plan, instead of whacking us with another price increase. Make tethering an incentive to buying an iPhone instead of a barrier.

Topics: Wi-Fi, Hardware, iPhone, Laptops, Mobility, Networking

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5 comments
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  • Yes it could be easier and yes it IS easier

    [i]It really couldn?t be any easier.[/i]

    Maybe it couldn't be easier on the iPhone because Apple has a maniacal grip over what you can and can't install on an unhacked iPhone but companies like Nokia, Microsoft, Palm, and Google don't pretend to know what is best for you. Considering that step 1 of your "couldn't be easier" is to hack the iPhone, invalidate your warranty, and run the risk of being bricked the next time Apple issues an update, it would appear that you would agree with me when I say that Apple doesn't know what is best for you either.

    So yes, it could be easier and yes it IS easier on any cell phone made by anybody but Apple. :)
    NonZealot
    • Who Let the Dopes Out?

      [i]Considering that step 1 of your "couldn't be easier" is to hack the iPhone,[/i]

      It's completely harmless and easily un-done.

      [i]invalidate your warranty,[/i]

      it doesn't cause ANY physical changes to the hardware. You restore in iTunes and everything is back to factory spec.

      [i]and run the risk of being bricked the next time Apple issues an update,[/i]

      Completely untrue. A simple restore reverts back to factory spec. You're uninformed and it's apparent that you've never done it.
      rpfotog
    • I disagree Nokia is a disaster

      I disagree. while Sony Ericsson has a fine record, you do
      not want to know the problems that Nokia causes while
      using their bluetooth modem. Besides you need to enter
      the phone numer like *999# etc, you need yto know the
      password and you must hope it works. PDA net, works
      without all that rubbish and really works always, you never
      get disconnected. Something Nokia can learn a lot from.
      Moreover, the Iphone is jailbroeken wiothin a few minutes.
      But I do agree, that Apple should be held accountable for
      their incompetitive behaviour. Locked phones have died
      out since the mid 90's and nobody would buy a computer
      either who allows you to get online with AOL only.
      rhon@...
    • Do you have ANY iPhone experience?

      There are so many preconceptions here I'm not so sure where to begin...

      Last time I checked ALL of the above companies seem to think they know what's best for the consumer - Microsoft with Vista is a prime example... see how well that one is going yes? I'm not defending Apple's stance on this by any stretch BTW... just pointing out the flaws in your logic.

      As far as invalidating the warranty about jailbreaking the iPhone just like the man above said all one has to do is a restore and BAM back to Apple-sanctioned software... and as far as bricking the phone with an update, Jobs and Co are more worried about the phones that are unlocked (I.E. work with other carriers such as TMobile for example) than those who jailbreak to put on themes and apps such as cycorder (adds video recording capability to the iPhone) and even with a software upgrade all that will happen is the same thing as a restore will - the iPhone goes to Apple-sanctioned software - in this example updated iPhone OS rather than the same OS version that was previously jailbroken.

      And have you EVER tried tethering on a WM device? I had an HTC/Qualcomm PPC_6700 with Sprint running WM OS 6.1 (upgraded from the original WM5) and tethering was just not possible for me. I'm not sure if it was a software issue, hardware issue, Sprint issue, or me not know how to issue but I was not able to get it to work.

      The easiest by far IMHO and experience is the blackberry - I use on on a verizon plan which includes tethering and it's very simple and on occasion fairly fast.

      This - "...it would appear that you would agree with me when I say that Apple doesn't know what is best for you either." is about the only thing you've written that I agree with.
      athynz
  • RE: Real-world iPhone tethering

    From the information that I have seen, it is against the TOS of the contract with AT&T to tether.

    Not all phones that can tether are allowed to tether with every carrier either. It appears to be more of a carrier issue.

    Besides, didn't I see something last month about AT&T saying that their network would not be up to the usage demand it would put on their network.
    fxstb2002