How to Connect to the Internet using a Tethered Cell Phone

Question: "My cell phone lets me browse the web, so it seems I should be able to use that connection from my laptop. Is there a way to connect my laptop to the Internet using my cell phone?"

Answer: Yes, you can use your cell phone's internet connection to browse the web on your laptop, by connecting your cell phone to your laptop with a USB data cable and software that handles the connection(also known as "tethering").

What you'll need

  • A web-enabled cell phone with a data plan. If you can browse the web on your cell phone, then it's web-enabled, but you still need to have a data plan with your wireless service provider (e.g. AT&T) in order to use your cell phone as a tethered laptop modem.
  • A USB data cable or a Bluetooth adapter. You'll use the USB data cable to connect/tether your cell phone to your computer, or the Bluetooth adapter to connect without any wires.
  • Tethering software programs like DataConnect or Mobile PhoneTools Bluetooth that use your cell phone as a modem.

Tethering your cell phone to your laptop

  1. Connect your web-enabled cell phone to your laptop
  2. If you're using a USB data cable, then you'll plug your phone into your laptop which will also charge your phone's battery while it's connected.

    If your phone is Bluetooth-enabled - and most new phones are - then you can connect your phone without any wires by pairing it with your laptop.

    For Motorola phones, open the phone and select the following menu options:

    Menu --> Settings --> Connection --> Bluetooth Link --> Setup --> Power

Use Your Cell Phone as a Laptop Modem (PC and Mac)

I recently started a new job in a downtown office that's right off the bus line. I decided to start commuting to save money on gas, since I live 18 miles away. I wanted a way to connect my laptop to the Internet so I could get some work done or catch up on email on the way.

I was able to connect my Macbook Pro laptop to the Internet using my Bluetooth-enabled Motorla RAZR cell phone as a modem. You should be able to get up and running with these instructions in about 15 minutes, and I'll explain how to do it with both Mac and PC/Windows laptops.

Here's what you'll need for a tethered laptop-cell-phone

  • Bluetooth-enabled cell phone (mine is a Motorola Razr V3, but a 3G phone is much faster when it comes to Internet data transfers)
  • Bluetooth-enabled laptop, or a laptop with a Bluetooth adapter. You can also use a USB data cable connection kit if your phone doesn't support Bluetooth.
  • Internet data plan or a dial-up Internet account. I used the MediaNet internet plan with AT&T ($19.99 a month for unlimited internet). You can also use a dial-up Internet connection (about $5 a month through PeoplePC).

1. Pair your Bluetooth phone with your laptop

Configure your phone's BlueTooth settings to make it visible to your PC or Mac. On a Razr phone use the following menu options:

Settings --> Connection --> BlueTooth Link --> Setup --> Find Me