BlackBerry How To: Use Your RIM Smartphone As a Tethered Modem for Your PC

Use your BlackBerry as a tethered modem to connect your computer to the Web and save yourself countless headaches--and a wad of cash. Follow these four steps and you may never have to tinker with public Wi-Fi hotspots in coffee shops, airports or hotels again.

During the past few weeks, we've brought you our best BlackBerry tips: keyboard shortcuts, tricks for advanced users, a dozen free software downloads, tips on how to extend your battery life and put that Bluetooth to good use, as well as hints on how to free up your device memory. This week, we'll show you how to use your BlackBerry device to connect a Windows notebook or desktop computer to the Web.

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A tethered modem lets you access the Internet with your laptop computer anywhere there's cellular data coverage. Forget about lengthy Wi-Fi hotspot login processes and usage fees.

I've you use a BlackBerry 7130v, Pearl, Curve or 8800 series device it can be employed as a tethered modem. And all of the major U.S. wireless carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint, allow their BlackBerry devices--as well as some additional smartphones--to be used as tethered modems. However, their charges for the functionality differ dramatically, from as much as $30 on top of existing monthly data plans (AT&T) to nothing at all (T-Mobile).

1) Download and Install RIM BlackBerry Desktop Software

The first step to connecting your Windows notebook or desktop computer to the Internet using your BlackBerry smartphone's data connection: download the BlackBerry Desktop Software from RIM's website or the CD that came with your device. You'll need software version 4.1 or higher to use your BlackBerry as a tethered modem.

This software ensures that you've got the appropriate drivers to enable your BlackBerry to use your computer's USB and virtual COM ports to upload and download Internet data via dial-up connection.

If you find that you're already running an earlier version of BlackBerry Desktop Manager that doesn't support tethering, simply download the updated software from RIM. You may to need repair the software after upgrading from v4.0 to v4.1 if the necessary USB and virtual COM ports can't be found. To do so, simply re-install and select the Repair option.

2) Create Web Access Point Name (APN)

Open up your Windows Start Menu and find your Control Panel, within your Settings. Open up your Phone and Modem Options, and specify your local area code, carrier code (if necessary) and numbers that you may need to dial to access outside lines. Then choose whether or not your use a touch tone or pulse telephone connection and hit OK.

From there, select the Modems tab, highlight Standard Modems and click the Properties tab beneath the option. Once the Properties window opens, click on the Advanced tab at the top of the box and in the Extra Initialization Commands field type:

+cgdcont=1,"IP","Your Internet APN"

(Note: If you don't know your Internet Access Point Name (APN), you can contact your wireless carrier's customer support representatives. Or you can try to find your APN by clicking the Options icon on your BlackBerry Applications screen, then Advanced Options, and TCP. If the Internet APN name has been saved within the device, it will be listed in this menu. A good old Google search never hurts, either.)

Click OK once you've filled in the Extra Initialization Commands field and hit OK again when the Phone and Modem Options tab reappears.

RIM BlackBerry as a Tethred Modem
BlackBerry as a Tethered Modem

3) Setup Dial-Up Networking Connection (Process Depends on Which Windows OS You Use)

Windows XP Configuration Process

Windows XP users: Open up your Windows Start menu, mouse over the Connect To option and then click Show All Connections. In the Network Tasks box in the right-hand margin, click Create a New Connection to launch the New Connection Wizard. From there, click Next, choose the Connect to the Internet option and hit Next again. Pick Setup My Connection Manually and hit Next again. Select Connect Using a Dialup Modem, hit Next. Select the Standard Modem option on the Select a Device screen, hit Next again. Within the ISP Name box, type a name for your connection (Carrier name, for example) and once again click Next. In the Phone Number field type *99#, and then select whether the connection is for you alone or for others, as well.

You'll then be prompted for the User Name and Password provided by your wireless carrier upon signing up for the tethered modem service. (If you don't know your User Name or Password, contact your service provider. Again, performing a Google search might help, as well) After you've filled in the appropriate information, click Finish to close the window and open the Connect window. (Some default User Names and Passwords can also be found online.)

When you've successfully created a new connection and the Connect window appears, hit the Properties tab at the bottom and ensure that the Standard Modem box is checked and highlighted. Then choose Configure. Check the Enable Hardware Flow Control box, make sure none of the other boxes are checked and then hit OK. When you return to your connection Properties box, hit OK again.

Windows Vista and Windows 2000 users: See additional information on how to configure connections for Windows Vista and Windows 2000 on RIM's site.

4) Connect Your Laptop/Desktop to the Internet Via BlackBerry

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Attach your BlackBerry smartphone to your computer via the USB sync cable that came with your device (or a comparable cable) and launch the BlackBerry Desktop Manager. Open your Windows Start menu, choose the Connect To option and click the name of your new Network Connection. Enter your User Name and Password if you haven't saved it, click Dial, and you're good to go.

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