Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Best tethering options for smartphone users

Interested in tethering with your smartphone so that you can get online with your notebook/laptop/netbook/tablet PC? What's the best option?

More wireless carriers are starting to charge customers an extra fee if you're planning on tethering with your smartphone. These fees may not be advertised, so you may need to do a bit of digging to find them. Some carriers (like Verizon Wireless) require that you upgrade your data plan if you wish to tether. Now is that really necessary?

Of course, there are unofficial alternatives that may allow you to tether for less. I'm not writing this to endorse any of these options. They are here simply for informational purposes only. For instance, you could try PdaNet or you might be able to load a custom ROM that allows you to tether through your smartphone data plan. Some users reportedly have "hacked" their smartphone so they can tether without paying additional fees. I'm not advocating that you should hack your phone because this generally leads to a loss in warranty coverage.

The best way to tether is to follow the rules outlined by your wireless carrier. Ask the right questions so that you don't end up being surprised when you receive your bill.

Consider one other option: some wireless carriers allow you to add/remove tethering fees without any long-term obligations. So, if you know you're going to be tethering for a long weekend, add the feature before you travel. Then, when you return home, remove the feature from your plan. You may end up with prorated fees on your bill. If this is an option for you, then it may be the best option if you're on a budget and you don't need to tether frequently.

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