Tethering via BlackBerry- What exactly is it?

August 17, 2009

So you finally bit the bullet and purchased a smartphone eh? There’s so much to learn about your new gadget and this "tethering" thing seems to be all the rave.  But what exactly is tethering?

Wikipedia defines tethering as: ‘using some type of mobile device to gain internet access on another device’.  Your smartphone (i.e. BlackBerry, iPhone, Treo, Palm Pre, etc) can access the internet via your cellphone plan, right?  You can then use that same internet connection to access the internet on your laptop by way of tethering (connecting) your smartphone to your laptop.  Got it?

Tethering isn’t new.  I’ve been tethering for about three years via the BlackBerry. For those of us who understand how to tether, the excessive cost of wireless PC cards and separate internet data plans are quickly becoming a way of the past.

Who can tether?
My guess is anyone with a laptop and a smartphone (and even non-smartphones like the LG Chocolate).  However,  it  is my understanding that there is still not a clear cut solution to tethering via AT&T and iPhone.  There are hacks and work-arounds but if you have to ask what tethering is to begin with…ya probably should wait for a "commercial" solution.  I’ve read some decent reviews about PDaNet (iPhone, Windows Mobile, Android, Palm and BlackBerry) but I haven’t personally tried this tethering software.

At LitCentral, BlackBerry is our mobile phone of choice for many reasons.  We have the BlackBerry Tour 9630s in-house with Verizon as our carrier.  Because Verizon has the strongest 3G (soon to be 4G) network in the US, it’s also a stable internet provider when we’re mobile.  This article would be enormously laborious and time consuming if I chose to include all smartphones and cellphone carriers.  If you have Verizon and a BlackBerry, this article will be very informative in setting up tethering.  If you have another smartphone and or carrier, use it as a general guideline. 
Where would a writer or anyone else use tethering?
  • Coffee Shops
  • Bookstores (sans Barnes & Noble w/ free Wi-Fi)
  • Grandma’s house (no cable or internet!)
  • Airport
  • Abroad (charges will apply)
  • Hotel
  • Off Turf Business Meeting (their Wi-Fi always fails when you need it for a presentation)
  • Mobile Home Traveling
  • Library
  • etc. etc. etc.
    What do I need?
    1) BlackBerry smartphone
    2) Laptop
    3) *USB or Bluetooth connection (pic above uses USB)
    4) Software (Tetherberry, VZAccess Manager, PDaNet)

    *If you don’t want to be bothered with hauling around the long USB cable, look into a retractable cable.

    Why TetherBerry?
    Sure, you can opt to go through your carrier for the software/connection access.  Verizon charges $15 a month ($180/yr) for a BlackBerry tethering option.  However, TetherBerry uses your normal BB data plan but only charges you a ONE-TIME fee of $49 per phone.   Tetherberry does not have connection limits, but  be aware that Verizon only allows for a 5GB cap – plenty if you’re not downloading insane amounts of data.  Tetherberry is a solid long-term solution. If you lose your phone or get a new BB, simply provide your new PIN to Tetherberry free of charge and download the software again onto your new device.  A Mac version is currently in beta.
    VZAccess Manager
    If you choose to go strictly through Verizon and pay $15/month you will need to download VZAccess Manager.  This is separate from the BB Desktop Manager.  In order for the software to access the internet you will need to call Verizon and add tethering to your plan.  Psssst…Did I mention TetherBerry is much easier?
    I still need visuals!!!

    If you decide on TetherBerry, it’s really simple to use after the software  is loaded on the laptop and the BB. Just open the Tetherberry app on the BB, tether the phone to the laptop using the same USB cable  that came with the phone, and the software takes you to the internet from there.  It even provides a data usage window. A bluetooth Tetherberry version  will be available in the near future. 




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