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True Mobile Computing: Tether Your Smart Phone To Your Laptop

Updated on November 05, 2010

In techno-talk, tethering is a method of connecting your smart phone to your computer, laptop, or netbook to access the internet through your phone's data plan. You can do that with you home computer and save money by replacing your ISP.

The laptop and netbook was suppose to free us from the wire but it required a wifi hot spot in order to connect to the web. A wifi hot spot is basically a wireless router. You may have one installed in your home. Places like Starbucks, Borders, and even McDonalds are offering free wifi to their customers which gives them the convenience of surfing the web while enjoying their meal.

Samsung Moment Tethered
Samsung Moment Tethered

While this has made Starbucks "the place to be" in terms of wifi, the laptop owners are still locked down to their wifi network. In order to access wifi, you need to be near their network. This means you have to be in or around their store. If you can overcome the stare down when you go into their stores, sit down and surf the web without buying anything then more power to you! I know it says "free wifi" but we know it's implied that you at least buy a cup of coffee in exchange.

Like me, you probably own a smart phone with unlimited data. This means you are able to surf the web and do all of that from your smart phone. I've always wondered if you could connect your smart phone to your computer and get internet. Well, you can! It's called tethering.

Different platforms have different services that allow you to tether. I am running Android and I will should you how to tether on Google's mobile OS.

There are 2 main apps that allow you to tether. PDANet and EasyTether. PDANet requires you to install a client on you computer which you would need internet access already. EasyTether is great and once the app is running, it has a simple instruction to get it working. Both apps work and both cost money. Luckily, both apps have free versions which allows your to access the web and try it out. The paid versions allow https which is important if say you want to purchase something online with a credit card or eBay.


Important Notes

  • Most cell phone carriers have a "fair usage" policy. This means they will throttle your connection if you pass a certain threshold. For example, my carrier, Sprint will "flag" you if your monthly transfer pass the 5gb per month limit. After they flag you, they will monitor your usage. For example, if they find you downloading huge torrents or stuff like that, let's just say they might cut your off.
  • 3G internet is not broadband. Wifi is still faster than 3G but Sprint's WiMax 4G will be considerably faster than 3G and will rival your home's broadband internet access. This means if you are already at Starbucks or Borders, connect to wifi and use their bandwidth.
  • Sprint is rolling their WiMax 4G this summer of 2010 and will continue to expand it. 4G is actually cheaper to serve than their EV-DO 3G and their flagship 4G phone, the Evo 4G will support streaming high def videos. This suggest that Sprint will be less strict on their "fair usage" policy.
  • A co-worker canceled his internet and will tether from his carrier. He will save at least $30 per month. Tethering can be a great alternative to your home ISP.


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