Use your Android phone as a wireless modem

Have a laptop but no Wi-Fi? Turn your Android phone into a modem and get your computer connected to the Net in seconds.
  • (PC World (US online))
  • — 07 May, 2010 07:18

You know you can surf the Net on your Android phone--but did you know that the same phone can also enable you to surf the Net from your PC?

We're talking about something called tethering. In a nutshell, tethering allows you to use your smartphone like a wireless modem: You connect it to your computer, then use its 3G connection to get online.

Carrier Considerations

Before you start thinking about tethering with your Android device, you should check with your carrier to learn about its policies and conditions. Some carriers offer their own fee-based tethering services for certain phones; others forbid the practice altogether or assess penalties if they discover you're doing it.

As long as your carrier doesn't object, the only other consideration is data usage. While tethering, you'll be harnessing your phone's 3G connection to use the Internet from a computer, so you will be consuming a potentially sizable chunk of data. If your smartphone plan includes unlimited data, you should be fine; but if your plan allows only a certain amount of data per month, be sure to keep that restriction in mind.

First Steps to Tethering

Carrier-provided options aside, there are numerous ways to tether your phone to your laptop or desktop PC. Many of them require tinkering with advanced configurations on your Android device; we won't be getting into those here. The option we'll be explaining involves little more than installing a couple of programs and clicking on a couple of basic settings.

Let's begin with your mobile phone: Open up the Android Market and search for an app called PdaNet. Download and install it to your phone (it's currently available free of charge).

Once the app is installed, you'll need to download the companion program to your PC. Click over to June Fabrics (that's the name), and select the edition that's right for you. As of this writing, the program supports 32-bit versions of Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7; 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7; and versions 10.5 and 10.6 of Mac OS.

Before you move on to the next step, you need to adjust one setting on your Android phone. From the home screen, tap the Menu key and select Settings. From there, select Applications, and then Development. Now check the box that says USB debugging. When the confirmation dialog box appears, press OK.

This setting allows the PdaNet app to stream data directly from your phone to your PC. It is a setting frequently used by developers. In theory, however, as the confirmation box explains, it could be used maliciously. For your protection, you should go back into this menu and disable the USB debugging setting whenever you are not actively using the tethering function.

Starting Your Connection

Take a deep breath--you're almost done. Plug your Android phone into an open USB port on your PC. Run the PdaNet app on your phone and select the Enable USB Tether option. The app will confirm that you've downloaded and installed its PC-based cousin; click Already installed to continue.

After verifying the connection, the app will tell you that it's on and running as a background service on your phone. Now, go to your PC and look for the PdaNet icon in your system tray--it's a rectangular box that looks like a cell phone. Right-click the icon and select Connect from the pop-up menu that appears.

At this point, everything should be all set (woo-hoo!). The PdaNet PC program should pop up a confirmation that you're connected, and a notification should appear on your desktop informing you that the PdaNet modem is up and running. Your computer is now online through your phone's data connection; you can open a Web page, check e-mail, and do practically anything else you could normally do while connected to the Net.

One final note: You may have noticed that the PdaNet Android app has a second option on its main screen: Enable Bluetooth DUN. If you're using a computer that has Bluetooth functionality, you can connect your phone to your PC wirelessly using this option instead of the Enable USB Tether option discussed above.

For comprehensive tips about Android and reviews of the best apps and devices to help you get the most out of the mobile operating system, order PCWorld's Android Superguide, on CD-ROM or in a convenient, downloadable PDF file.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

JR Raphael

PC World (US online)
Topics: mobiles phones, smartphones, Android, Google Android, android market

Comments

THERESA CRAUSE

1

hi, I'll relocating to France in June for 8 months and want to know if I can get a prepaid 3G mobile phone and use IT to access the internet through my MacBook? I believe that the prepaid wireless modems are very expensive in France as it runs on time and not on downloaded volume. I also have an i-Phone that I will get a French sim card for but I can get another 3G prepaid phone that can provide the mobile internet access as I don't know if the i-Phone can?

Can anyone make any suggestions as to how to overcome this problem?
thanks and ciao

tc

JoAnn

2

Does any one know how to get the best wireless modem deal in France? I have a mac, and iphone but will be without wifi....so any suggestions. It will be for a year or more?

Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?