Tethering tutorial: How to use your Android smartphone as a modem

Use your Android smartphone as a wireless or wired modem with smartphones, tablets, Macs and PCs

Knowing how to share your smartphone’s Internet connection can get you out of sticky situations. All Android smartphones can generate a wireless Wi-Fi hotspot that your tablet, notebook or any other device can access to surf the Web. Enabling this feature is easily done provided you account for the basics.

1. Is your software up-to-date?

Ensuring you have the latest version of software installed on your Android smartphone will help avoid any unexpected glitches. Let’s not forget your smartphone is likely to benefit from general performance improvements too.

Checking for new software updates can be easily done by accessing the Settings menu.

Simply click on Settings > About phone > System update.

2. Get your hotspot on

Now it’s time to enable the hotspot feature in your up-to-date Android smartphone. Locating this setting is pretty standardised across different Android devices. Simply access the following menus:

Settings > under the Wireless and networks heading, select More > Tethering and Mobile hotspot.

Your Android smartphone is password protected to ensure randoms don’t jump onto your wireless hotspot and exhaust your mobile data allowance. Now is a good time to check or change the password. This can be done by selecting Set up Wi-Fi hotspot. Ticking the Show password field will ensure you spell the password correctly.

Now enable the Wireless hotspot option. This is the final step in enabling a wireless hotspot with a smartphone or tablet. All that remains is to nominate the Wi-Fi network from the device you want to surf the Internet from.

Tethering your Internet connection to a notebook or PC requires you enable a few more settings. You have the option of doing so wirelessly over Bluetooth or by establishing a connection over USB.

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3a. Wirelessly tether over Bluetooth

This step involves pairing your smartphone to your notebook/PC over Bluetooth. Under the Tethering and Hotspot menu accessed previously, enable the Bluetooth tethering option.

Now make your smartphone visible to Bluetooth devices by going to Settings > Bluetooth > and clicking on your displayed [Smartphone’s name]. This should make your Android smartphone visible to other devices.

The next part of the pairing process involves recognising your smartphone’s Bluetooth signal from your notebook/PC. Access the Bluetooth menu (Windows: found in Control Panel; Mac: System Preferences) to pair it with your Android smartphone. Once the computer and smartphone is paired, you can access your smartphone’s Internet connection just as an ordinary Wi-Fi network.

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3b. Tethering over a USB connection

Tethering over Bluetooth is convenient, but you might prefer the simpler setup of a USB connection.

Windows 8.1

Plugging an Android smartphone into a Windows notebook/PC for the first time will trigger the installation of drivers. Wait for this to finish and then, on your smartphone, open the Settings menu. Under the ‘Wireless and networks’ heading, select Tethering and mobile hotspot and then select USB tethering.

The network icon in the taskbar should display a wired connection when it is successful.

Simply uncheck USB tethering from your Android smartphone when you have finished tethering.

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Apple OS X Snow Leopard

Android does not support tethering for Apple’s OS X platform by default; however, third party applications make USB tethering possible between the two disparate platforms.

Software engineer Joshua Wise has cooked up a fix with the USB tethering driver HoRNDIS (pronounced “horrendous”). HoRNDIS is one such driver available as a free download and, based on our experiences, it works well.

Firstly download the version of HoRNDIS suitable for your Apple computer from Wise’s website. Install the .pkg and follow the typical installation prompts. We recommend restarting your computer once the installation is complete.

Then plug in your Android smartphone using the USB cable. Open Settings > More > (under the Wireless and networks menu) Tethering and mobile hotspot and then select USB tethering.

Now when you jump onto your Mac and select System preferences > Network, you should see your smartphone at the top of the connections. Ensure Wi-Fi is disabled and begin surfing the Internet.

We tested HoRNDIS with a Motorola Moto G (4G) and an LG G3. It worked without fail on both smartphones.

4. Enjoy surfing the Internet

Ensure you have a large data quota to work with, as tethering uses much more data than browsing the Web on your smartphone does. If you regularly use tethering, we suggest a data allowance of at least 2GB a month.

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Tony Ibrahim
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