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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Experimenting with Free Android Tethering

A friend made fun of me for not using free tethering when I was complaining that there was no open WiFi where we were.  Tethering means using my 3G Android phone as a internet connection for my PC.  Verizon charges a fee for this, plus a high data usage fee, so I had always avoided it.  My friend said there were apps for that, and that it is free if I download one.  In the past I'd heard that carriers monitor IP addresses and try to detect when people are tethering when they aren't supposed to.   I'll experiment, see if I can get free tethering working, and if Verizon complains.

Another drawback to tethering is data usage. While my plan is still unlimited, those days are numbered and Verizon has announced throttling.   So tethering is still not something I want to do a lot, but in a pinch it might save the day.

If you go to the android market, you see that apps are out there, I decided to try this one.

But you find that Verizon has blocked access.  Note the message in the yellow box on the left.

I thought I would need to sideload like this link says
But it turned out I didn't have to do that.

I googled the app name and "apk" which is the extension of the compiled files for the apps on Android.  I used my PC for this search.  I found this page, which has a download link.

Then I went to the download page, and saw the barcode in the picture above.   I took a photo of the barcode with my phone, using Google goggles, and it took me to an android market page THAT ALLOWED ME TO DOWNLOAD and install directly to my phone!  No sideloads, filemanagers, no nothing, just downloaded the app from the web.  This got around Verizon's block.

After that you have to download and install drivers to the PC.

It looks like the free version has some limitations as well.  It won't allow you to access https sites.  A serious limitation, but   I understand, people gotta eat.  Even software developers.  Threw out scary messages about unsigned and unverified software warnings from the PC.  Maybe my next post will be about how I wrecked my computer with dodgy software.

I was able to click through all the installs on both the phone and PC with no problems.  It appears this software uses the app development USB link to communicate with the phone over USB, rather than conventional tethering, so it may be possible that Verizon won't flag this as an illegal tether.   I'll let you know.

I did immediately see another network pop up on my PC, "Network 4" with internet access!  Easy.   This post was written using my laptop and my Motorola Droid 2 global as the network connection.   Success!  Free!  W00t!   Uhhhh.... maybe not perfect.   I am finding that I can't access my email and a couple other sites because of the https limitation, so you might want to consider buying the full version.   I'm going to use if for a while to see if Verizon complains before committing to pay.  I'll update the post with what happens.


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