Tethering tutorial: How to use your iPhone as a modem

Use your iPhone as a wireless or wired modem

Using a mobile phone as a modem isn't a new feature — in fact, many smartphones came and went before the iPhone had this capability.

Tethering means you don't need a Wi-Fi hotspot or a separate mobile broadband modem to access the Internet on your notebook or PC. Your mobile phone or smartphone becomes the modem and uses your network's 3G data service to connect to the Internet.

Apple's launch of the 3.0 iPhone software in June last year brought tethering to the attention of a broader audience than previously. It used to be used mainly by corporate road warriors, but the decreasing cost of 3G data and the increasingly popularity of smartphones mean that tethering is now more appealing for students, office workers and travellers.

An iPhone can be used as a tethered modem when physically connected to a computer with a USB cable or wirelessly connected via Bluetooth. Follow our step-by-step guide to find out how:

1. Update your software

Before attempting to tether your iPhone, you should ensure you've updated to the latest iPhone software, as well as the latest carrier software. Simply plug your iPhone into your computer, open iTunes and click the "check for updates" button when the iPhone screen appears.

2. Activate tethering

In the iPhone's settings menu, tap General > Network > Internet Tethering. Slide the Internet Tethering switch to On.

iPhone tethering

iPhone tethering

3a Connect wired via USB

To tether via USB, first connect your iPhone to your computer. For Windows users, browse to your computer's Network services settings via the Control Panel and choose iPhone. For Mac users (must be running Mac OS X 10.5.7 or later), a pop-up window will appear saying "A new network interface has been detected". Click Network Preferences, configure the network settings for iPhone, then click Apply.

Or: 3b Connect wireless via Bluetooth

In the iPhone's settings menu, tap General > Bluetooth and slide the Bluetooth switch on. Use your computer's Bluetooth menu (Windows: found in Control Panel; Mac: System Preferences) to pair and connect the iPhone to your computer.

5. Browse the Web

When your iPhone is tethered a blue bar appears at the top of the iPhone's screen with the message "Internet Tethering". Tethering remains on if you connect with a USB cable even if you aren’t actively using the Internet. Conveniently, you can still make and receive phone calls and send and receive text messages while tethering.

Ensure you have a large data quota to work with, as tethering uses much more data than browsing the Web on your iPhone does. If you regularly use tethering, we suggest a data allowance of at least 1GB per month.

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Tags Applemobile broadbandtetheringiPhonebroadbandiPhone 3GS

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

Good Gear Guide

60 Comments

Anonymous

1

iPhone Tethering

As far as I know, this does not work with AT&T in the US. There was once a hack that allowed tethering but when the new iPhone OS came out, it rendered the hack useless and killed virtual voicemail.

Austin

2

What a fantastic thing, works great, thanks for the advice !

Frustrated User

3

There are many carriers around the world which will not allow tethering without an extra fee. Many prepaid cards will not allow it, even if a 3G package is purchased

vikkisingh

4

apple has put support for tethering ???

they are years behind

most nokia handsets have usb and bluetooth internet support for years

hope apple blesses their customers with bluetooth file transfer soon

Gabriel

5

They won't do so because of music pirating. they do allow picture transfer though.

I don't have the tethering option, does that mean I need to update?

Tonberry

6

Interestingly this also let's you connect to a wireless router remotley instead of your normal 3g service meaning you can use your phone as a network card

mikey

7

FYI, in Australia we call it hotspots, even on the iphone its under HOTSPOTS. Thankyou

mikey

8

FYI, in Australia we call it hotspots, even on the iphone its under HOTSPOTS. Thankyou

hmphh

9

We recently bought our first smartphone (Huwawei Sonic) - very nice bit of kit. The smartphone has capability to be used as a WiFi hotspot.

It is not locked to any network. I have a sim from my old mobile which is a basic Optus PAYG sim which is on an older plan - good for phone/text but useless for internet connection.

However, we have an Optus pre-paid mobile broadband usb dongle with plenty of credit still left on it which we use for mobile internet access through one laptop.

I thought i could simply take the sim from the pre-paid mobile broadband dongle and put in in the smartphone to create a mini wireless network (ie WiFi hotspot), so both computers (or other devices) could easily and simultaneously access the internet.

We have been able to pair the phone with both laptops (and other devices) no problem. However, although the laptops recognise the Network, they don't allow us to access internet. Curiously though, when i first switch on the smartphone and the laptop identifies the WiFi Network it says "Internet access", but after a second or two it says "No internet access".

As a work-around, have set up a home network so both laptops can connect, with the usb in one laptop and the other laptop networked through the first one. However, i would prefer to use the WiFi hotspot option, so either laptop (or other device) can connect anytime the smartphone is activated rather than having to mess around with creating network options. It seems like we have all the right equipment to be able to do what we need but for some reason it just isn't working as planned.

Is this likely to be an optus/sim issue stopping us from tethering? and if so is there a way to get around this to create the the WiFi hotspot option? Optus actually sell a mini WiFi Modem for connecting multiple devices, but would prefer not to fork out extra $$ unnecessarily.

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10

Hi I have iphone 4 with ios 5 it has no option in Genral> network> of tethering as mentioned above. pls help

AC

11

To all iOS 5 users the new option for tethering is now : settings>general>network >personal hotspot.

QUANG

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MY IPHONE 3S AND 4 no option in Genral> network> of tethering as mentioned above. pls help
.

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This is AMAZING ! I wish i'd read this at the beginning of the week !
THANK YOU : )

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hi , I have iphone 4 with ios 5 it has no option in Genral> network> personal hotspot as mentioned above. pls help

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I have iOS 4.21 & there is no option in setting-gen..-network p/s help

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Hi I have pre paid credit with virgin. I also have an apple lap top. Can I use my iPhone 4 for tethering or do I need to have my provider set it up or can I set up tethering at home using the Internet credit I have on my phone credit. Or do I need to ist set this up at a place were free Internet is provided. ? Any help much appreciated. I'm an amateur at all this. Annie

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