I’ve always wondered why I couldn’t connect to the internet by plugging my laptop into my cell phone. I mean, it’s a phone, what’s the difference between that and connecting by dial-up all those years ago when we all had external modems?
After searching online for clues on how to do this, I would often be frustrated because it seemed that only really-advanced tech minds could reconfigure their cell phones to enable an internet connection on the go. I figured all the major telecoms had such an iron-grip on their technology that you had to pay enormous monthly fees for the privilege of mobile internet access.
Then I bought my Gphone. One of the reasons I bought my Gphone as opposed to the ubiquitous iphone was because I believed that smartphones were just the beginning. Early adopters of the iphone had the convenience and aesthetic of an apple product much before I enjoyed my Gphone. But it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And the open architecture and entrepreneurial spirit of the mobile Android operating system, I believed, would allow for a number of uses that I hadn’t yet thought of. One of which is PdaNet; this application is not available on the iphone market for various proprietary and contractual reasons. However, if you have a jail-broken iphone, please read on.
PdaNet provides a free application for a number of smartphones that enable you to connect your laptop to the internet through your cell phone’s connection. After doing quite a bit of research on the topic, I found that this process is called “tethering,” and this is how you do it on a smartphone running Android.
1. Grab your smartphone and download the free PdaNet app from the market. After you install it, you have to change some settings on your phone that PdaNet walks you through.
2. Grab your laptop and download the latest software version of PdaNet from their website junefabrics.com. You have to determine if your laptop has a 32- or 64-bit operating system in order to determine if you can download the software. There is a free trial version that you can test out until it expires, after which you must pay a one-time fee of $29 for the amazing ability to tether your laptop to your cell phone’s connection. You can also continue using the PdaNet for free, but the https port will be disabled.
3. Grab a USB cable to connect your laptop to your smartphone. PdaNet walks you through the process. You must enable USB debugging in the development area of the application section of your smartphone settings.
4. Activate the app on your smart phone and enable USB tether, then double click the icon on your laptop’s toolbar. Make sure you select PdaNet from your possible network connections and Presto, you’re online!
Because PdaNet is just specialized software, you’re not hacking into your phone, you are just selecting a very useful app that allows you to do wonderful things with your smartphone. PdaNet is available on the junefabrics website for other smartphone operating systems as well, such as: PalmOS, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, jail-broken I-phones, and of course Android phones.
I’ve tethered my phone to my laptop on two road trips so far and have yet to have a problem. The speed is good as long as the cell reception is good. It works great, and I highly recommend this process if you need to get your laptop online but you’re not near a free broadband connection.