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.

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by JR Raphael, PC World - 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?

[ Tools to keep your Android phone speedy and powered up ]

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.

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