Whenever I need to be on the road to work on an assignment, Wi-Fi connectivity might prove inconvenient and be cumbersome to locate. When this is the case, there is one tool I have fallen back on that has been foolproof tool for me in every situation - Tether.
Note, not all carriers and data plans allow tethering, check with your cellular service provider.
Tether is a product that stands out from the majority of other cell-phone Internet tethering applications I have tried in the past, mainly in the areas of ease of use and convenience. It is available for Android, Blackberry and iOS.
Note that for an iPhone, tethering can only work if you jailbreak the phone first. Unfortunately, jail-broken iPhones can lead to instability, causing iOS to fall to its knees on occasion.
All I have to do to get started is download the application for my particular device to my phone, download the client Tether software to my Windows PC, and away I go.
As a quick note, since the app no longer exists for iPhone on the App Store, Tether offers an equally workable alternative solution that utilizes Safari, which is already built into the operating system, and creates a wireless ad-hoc network that a PC can connect to wirelessly. However, for the purposes of my review, I will be showing screenshots of the Android version.
Once you load Tether up on your smartphone, you will be greeted with a statistics display as well as a message that says "Waiting for connection". On the PC side, after installing the Tether connection application, you select the phone model you are using as well as the connection type, be it over USB or Bluetooth. Once you have your settings adjusted to your liking, simply plug the phone in via USB or pair over Bluetooth. Once this happens, the Tether app on both the smartphone and the PC will see each other and establish a handshake, thus connecting you to the internet over your cellular connection. It's really that simple.
Now when it comes to the price, this is where things get a bit interesting. If your platform of choice is Android or Blackberry, you simply pay $30 for the Tether itself and you get to keep the software forever without paying anything further. On the iPhone side, since one must opt for using a fancy proxy tunnel loophole within Safari with a system that needs to be actively maintained, a yearly subscription is required. Thankfully, at $30 a year, it's not a huge hardship, despite not being as nice as paying a one-time fee.
Finally, as a fair warning to all my readers, since tethering via a third party application is not exactly sanctioned by most cellular providers, your use of this application is at your own risk. My recommendation is to stick with surfing static websites, checking email and other light-duty web related tasks. Anytime you decide to fire up Windows Update or download off Bittorrent, chances are you will be either blocked from further use of your tether or you will be automatically charged extra for the privilege. Essentially, it's best to play it safe and not abuse it.
An avid technology writer and an IT guru, Matthew is here to help bring the best in software, hardware and the web to the collective consciousness of TechRepublic's readership. In addition to writing for TechRepublic, Matthew currently works as a Customer Success Professional for Ultimate Software in Santa Ana, California.