RIM Smartphone How To: Use Your BlackBerry as a Bluetooth Modem for Your PC

Using your RIM BlackBerry as a tethered modem for your laptop can help avoid pesky hotel, cafe and airport hot spots and save a stack of cash. But in this wireless world, who wants to be "tethered?" Follow these steps to cut the wire and use your BlackBerry as a Bluetooth modem.

Tue, June 24, 2008

CIO — When you carry a Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry, you've got an Internet connection in your pocket wherever you may roam--as long as your travels don't take you outside cellular coverage. And that connection is not restricted to your handheld; rather, many BlackBerrys and other Internet-enabled smartphones can be used as external modems to connect Bluetooth-enabled computers to the Web, saving time and money associated with registering and connecting to hotspots--though depending on the device, your connection will likely be slower than Wi-Fi.

A few weeks back, as part of our weekly BlackBerry How To series--which includes software downloads, keyboard shortcuts, tips for battery conservation and tricks for "power users," among other valuable tidbits--we offered detailed instructions on how to use your BlackBerry as a tethered modem for your PC. This week, we're "cutting the wire," or eliminating the need for a USB cable, and presenting a set of five quick tips for using your Bluetooth-enabled BlackBerry device as a dial-up modem.

According to RIM, BlackBerry Pearl 8100, Curve 8300 series and 8800 series devices running handheld software 4.2 or higher all support dial-up networking via Bluetooth. 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). You will also need to be using a PC running Windows XP or Vista, and you may need to purchase an external adaptor if your PC doesn't have Bluetooth built in.

1) Ensure Your BlackBerry Is "Discoverable"

To make sure your PC can locate your BlackBerry's Bluetooth connection, you need to set the handheld to be "Discoverable." To do so, simply click the Options icon on your BlackBerry home screen, scroll to and click onBluetooth and hit the BlackBerry Menu key--Menu is located directly to the left of the trackball on 8xxx series devices. Then choose Options from that menu. If the Discoverable field isn't set to Yes, use the associated dropdown menu to switch the value, hit the Escape button--to the right of the trackball--and save your changes when the menu prompts appears. (Note: You can turn off the Discoverable option at any time after pairing a new device by repeating these steps and setting the field to No. )

Screenshot of BlackBerry Bluetooth Options screen

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