Can Android tether, today, for $0 extra?

A picture named q.gifLast week, while puzzling over whether or how to get a Droid (I was looking for an Apple-like store where I could order it online) I was also trying to figure out if it could tether. Had the answer been a definitive Yes that would have immediately sealed it. I have Sprint MiFi that costs about $60 per month and doesn’t work very well in most places. The idea of getting a Droid that could tether and run on the Verizon network, which I hear has better coverage, is quite appealing. And obviously I’d like to save $60 per month.

The official answer came — they plan to offer it soon for an additional $30 per month, as they do for users of their other cell phones. They gave the same dodgy explanation that Apple/AT&T does, that I frankly don’t believe, that they have to test the network first to be sure it can handle the load. Really — 100K more users makes that big a difference? I don’t think we’re all in Berkeley.

I also got some emails from people, privately, that said there already is an Android app that does tethering, whether or not Verizon approves. So that’s the point of this post — to get a definitive answer without the corporate BS. Can my Droid tether, now, and if so, how do I get it going? (And for this task I don’t mind doing deeply technical stuff, but would prefer not to if possible.)

Posted in Droid. 37 Comments »

37 Responses to “Can Android tether, today, for $0 extra?”

  1. Robert Lowe Says:

    PdaNet is a drop-deap simple way to do USB tethering: http://www.junefabrics.com/android/ It only works with Windows though.

  2. johnacraft Says:

    I used PDANet on my Treo – very simple application.

    There is an Android application for tethering a “rooted” phone here: http://code.google.com/p/android-wifi-tether/

    I haven’t seen any tutorials for rooting Android 2.0 yet, though. Here is a tutorial for rooting Android 1.x:

    http://androidandme.com/2009/08/news/how-to-root-a-t-mobile-g1-and-mytouch-3g-android-phone/

    Personally, I’d start with PDANet and see if it meets your needs before trying to root the Droid.

    • Dave Winer Says:

      Dumb question: What’s a “rooted” phone? 🙂

      • johnacraft Says:

        A “rooted” phone is the equivalent of a “jailbroken” iPhone – it has been “hacked” to allow root access. It allows you to do things on the phone that you can’t do otherwise, but like jailbreaking, is a violation of the TOS and can create problems as updates are delivered.

      • Stan Says:

        To my knowledge, there is no known way to root a Droid yet. (I’ve been looking, since it seems Google disabled the ability of all Android devices to connect to ad-hoc wifi networks by setting a flag to 0 in a text file.)

        Since the SDK gives you shell access (as a non-root user) over the USB cable, most “rooting” procedures take the form of uploading a console program to the device that uses some privilege escalation exploit to get root access. Step 2 is replacing the current system image with a modified one that gives you root access in the future without the kernel exploit.

        Definitely not something you want to engage in lightly.

    • Wadood Says:

      I am using PDA net with HTC G1 for over 6 months without an issue.

  3. chrome poet Says:

    Another Android tethering app. I have not used but will test when able. http://blog.mmayhew.com/tethering-with-cyanogenmod/

  4. Bob Muir Says:

    Keep in mind that even if you can figure a tether hack, you still have the $#@% 5 gigabyte/month ceiling hanging over your head.

    Along those lines, does anybody know what happens when the 5GB limit is reached? Cut off for the rest of the month? Charged $$ per gig extra?

    • m.kelley Says:

      Bob, I’m tethering off of an env to two laptops and we’re not hitting the 5gb. Then again, we don’t download movies or music or games, we surf and chat….but even if I’m downloading a few apps, we’ve yet to hit the 5gb mark.

    • ewangr Says:

      If you hit the 5GB a month, you start getting charged $$ per K extra. If it’s the first time it’s happened you can call in and complain and get some of the cost knocked off. Do it a couple months in a row and expect to be advised to move to another plan (though they don’t ADVERTISE another plan), or to be dropped for being a bandwidth hog. This is why the Verizon apps always show you how much you’ve used up to the previous day by default – so you can see if you’re getting close.

      I find it so funny that EVERY ONE of the unlimited plans out there that advertise UNLIMITED Web or Internet are actually capped at 5GB. I seem to recall a lawsuit back in the day when someone was dropped by AOL for leaving their phone connected all the time to one of their numbers, and AOL losing the case because they advertised unlimited use.

      Seems like SOMEONE should be making a literal federal case out of this. But I suspect we’re all too used to not believing what is being advertised anymore to be able to argue that it’s somehow wrong for them to do so.

  5. james Says:

    Maybe try proxoid. It’s in the market. I haven’t tried it but others seem excited about it.

    • Robert Lowe Says:

      James, is proxoid for USB tethering only, or does it also support tethering via Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth? It doesn’t seem clear from the site: http://code.google.com/p/proxoid/

      • Lennon Says:

        Proxoid doesn’t actually do “tethering” in the usual sense — instead, it uses the ‘adb’ debugging tool distributed with the Android SDK to forward a TCP port on your computer to an HTTP proxy running on the phone.

        Because it’s just a regular app that happens to use TCP, it doesn’t require “rooting” your phone, and works with just about any type of computer. I’ve successfully connected from a MacBook Pro, an old Thinkpad running Ubuntu, and a desktop XP machine.

        The biggest failing, though, is that it only supports HTTP. You can of course tunnel a lot of other protocols over HTTP, but generally the experience is best if you stick to normal browsing. Gaming and P2P won’t work well over a high-latency, tunneled connection.

      • rmlowe Says:

        Lennon,

        Thanks. You didn’t directly answer my question, but it sounds like this means it only works via USB?

  6. Mark Essel Says:

    I’ve been dreaming about tethering for a while both between smart phones to multiplex bandwidth, and between service providers. Wrote up a few posts on the ideas but I don’t have the links handy. Here’s a recent gripe about wireless: http://www.victusspiritus.com/2009/10/18/optimal-dynamic-network-paths-why-current-wireless-internet-frameworks-fail/

  7. Bob Lee Says:

    There could be a better way now that Android supports tethering natively, but azilink (http://code.google.com/p/azilink/) works on all Android devices, and all OSes.

    It works by turning your device into a VPN server. You then connect to the device using openvpn over USB.

    There’s also tetherbot which uses a SOCKS proxy instead of a VPN, but that only works with apps that support SOCKS proxies (like Firefox).

  8. Bud Gibson Says:

    Note that Verizon reserves the right to charge you the $30/month if they determine that you are using your phone tethered, whether or not you go through them to do it. As for the VPN hack Bob Lee posted, Josh gave an in-depth example about that on Droidie.com this past weekend. You have to install the SDK for this one and become a developer.

    A question I have in all of this is that there seems to be real differences in what you can do between phones, between versions of the Android operating system, and between different UI overlays. I’ve grown very leery of the works on all versions of Android claim. Testing is believing.

  9. Joshua Says:

    Also note that USB tethering is included by default in the latest version of Cyanogen’s modded Android OS. Cyanogen is only available for the Dream/Magic and maybe the MyTouch 3G currently though. It is unknown whether he plans to pursue a version for the Droid or not.

  10. Dave Winer Says:

    Update: I wasn’t able to get PDANet to work on my Asus (where I need it) but I was able to get it to install on Windows XP running in VMWare on my iMac desktop. Verified through speedtest.net that it’s connecting through Verizon. Completely useless of course.

    But I could see where it wasn’t working on my netbook. The installer app would quickly skip over the part where it says it’s installing the driver, and on the desktop it took about a minute to do that. I’ve tried it about a half-dozen times on the netbook, restarted it twice, so there must be some problem with the Asus hardware? I don’t know…

  11. Jeffrey W. Baker Says:

    Hi Dave, after you install the PdaNet application on your phone, you can find the driver on the phone itself. You have to “mount” the filesystem after you plug in the USB so Windows sees it as a disk. The PdaNet driver is on there after you mount it.

    I used PdaNet for a week while my cable service was out of order and it worked great on an Ion. Can’t vouch for the Verizon Droid specifically.

  12. We want to keep Bijan! « DROIDIE Says:

    […] Can Android tether, today, for $0 extra? […]

  13. Thursday « Protoblogger Says:

    […] figured out how to tether the Droid to both Mac and Windows laptops. Not sure about Linux yet. I’m using PDANet on my Eee PC. […]

  14. Mike Says:

    Every Symbian phone can tether; they just plug into any laptop (Windows, OSX, Linux) and work. Many European carriers don’t care what you use your wireless internet access for. Mine gives me four SIM cards to put into whatever devices I want (for EU 20/month unlimited usage).

    If it weren’t for idiotic American carrier policies, Android would have tethering built in. It is frustrating that Android is hobbled in its capabilities world-wide just because the US can’t get its act together on a competitive wireless market.

    • Mariusz Says:

      Mike, I completely agree with you! Actually I use HTC Touch Pro with Windows Mobile, and there is standard application “internet sharing”. No one makes any troubles about it. It works just fine, and does the job. Usually I start the app in my phone, and use Blutetooth Network Access, which is very convenient (don’t need any cables).

      For me this is absolutely sub zero feature, and I would already resign from using Windows Mobile if Android (which generally is great OS) would let tethering. It’s now more than six month after this all tether affair, and still there is no software which would let use your mobile internet in convenient way…

  15. Jerry Fahrni » Verizon, you gotta love ‘em Says:

    […] Verizon. Her story was similar to mine; bummer. It looks like I really need to set up my Droid to tether. Tags: Mobile Access, Mobile phone, Verizon Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment […]

  16. ptard Says:

    WiFi tethering with the droid is possible with android-wifi-tether now, if you’re willing to root your phone and install custom firmware. Step by step guide:

    http://www.droidforums.net/forum/droid-hacks/10219-tether-capability-android-wifi-tether-wireless-tether-root-users.html#post88136


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