This has nothing to do with genealogy, but a newsletter reader asked the question today so I thought I would share the answer with everyone who might be interested.
Yesterday, I wrote a one-line comment of "I will be carrying an assortment of laptop computers, wi-fi and 3G networking equipment, plus a cell phone that also acts as a wireless modem..." A newsletter reader wrote and asked:
I am planning to buy an iPad soon to go along with my Mac and iPhone. You mentioned in today's letter that you were taking your cell phone along to England to act as a modem for your computer. I'm sure many of us would like to know how that works when we are not near wi-fi and do not have wireless. I would appreciate it very much if you could give instructions.
Actually, the instructions for the Apple iPhone are so easy that I think you will be surprised. It is a typical Apple experience: it just works. It requires about 20 seconds to make it work.
Any iPhone 4 (and I think any iPhone 3GS with up-to-date software) can do this. It is built into the menus. On the iPhone, go to SETTINGS and then select PERSONAL HOTSPOT. Turn it ON and then enter any password you wish to create. A password is not required but I would recommend it. Within seconds, it will be working as a wireless modem. Go to your computer or whatever device you are wish to use and look for the new wi-fi network. In my case, the new wi-fi network is called "Dick Eastman's iPhone" although I can optionally change that name, if I wish.
HOWEVER, AT&T will charge an additional $20 a month or so for the service. Further information from AT&T is available at http://goo.gl/EJkmX.
Another method is to "jailbreak" your iPhone. If you do that, AT&T probably won't even know. However, that voids the Apple warranty and is perhaps illegal to use unless you notify AT&T of your increased usage. (There is some debate on the legality of this and I am not a lawyer, so I will duck the question. I'll simply make you aware that SOME people, including AT&T and Verizon, say it is illegal. Others disagree.)
I decided to avoid the entire issue of legalities and warranties by using the approved method, approved by both Apple and by the cell phone companies. I do pay the extra $20 a month, however. That price includes up to four gigabytes of data transfer per month. If you use more than that, AT&T will charge more. I have never come close to using four gigabytes in any one month so I don't worry about it.
Be aware that tethering, or personal hotspot, uses more power than normal operation so your battery won't last as long. I only turn the personal hotspot on when I need it, then turn it off when I am finished. Of course, if I am in a hotel room, I can plug the charger into the wall and thereby keep the iPhone fully charged while simultaneously avoiding the hotel's outrageous wi-fi access fees.
More information about jailbreaking an iPhone can be found if you start at http://goo.gl/Lz0Xk.
Using the approved method will work on any iPhone, regardless if it is "jailbroken" or not.
Many Android phones will do the same thing, although I don't have any experience with them. I don't think ALL Android phones have that capability, only some of them. If you are thinking of purchasing an Android phone, look for the word "tethering" in the specifications.
You can learn more about Android tethering if you start at http://goo.gl/KxyXO.
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