by James A. Martin

‘Tether’ Hotspot App for iPhone May Leave You Cold

Mar 19, 20123 mins

Tether, an HTML5 ‘app,’ promises to turn your iPhone into a hotspot without those pricey extra service charges from your wireless carrier. But blogger James A. Martin had no luck at all getting Tether to work.

I’m in an abusive relationship.

I love, love, love the ability to turn my smartphone into a hotspot for my laptop and Wi-Fi-only iPad. When I’m traveling or attending a trade show where Wi-Fi is often spotty, my iPhone’s personal hotspot feature constantly comes in handy.

But AT&T, my wireless carrier, is abusing me. The company insists on making the personal hotspot/tethering feature a premium service that adds $20 to my $30 3GB monthly data plan. I did the math: That’s an extra $240 per year.

I don’t think AT&T customers should have to pay extra for the personal hotspot/tether feature. If you blow past your monthly data-plan allotment because you’ve been tethering a lot, then you should have to pay more.

And yet, I keep coming back for more abuse. So I read with great interest about Tether, a new HTML5 ‘application’ that promises to turn your iPhone into a hotspot without a “jailbreak” or wireless carrier’s add-on fees.

The company behind Tether previously released a similar app, iTether, in Apple’s App Store in 2011. Not surprisingly, Apple yanked the app because it “burdens the carrier network,” according to a Tether blog post. As a workaround, Tether, the HTML5 mobile-optimized ‘app’ that exists completely independently of Apple’s App Store and iTunes, was announced on March 9.

Tether is meant to share your iPhone’s Internet connection by creating an ad-hoc network between it and your other mobile devices. As part of the setup process, you run a free Tether app on your computer and launch the HTML5 Tether login/connection page on your phone. The Tether service costs $30 a year.

Despite dozens of attempts to transform my iPhone into a hotspot for my two Macs, I was unable to get the Tether service to work with either computer. I closely followed the setup process outlined in a video on the Tether site. But the result was almost always the same: the Tether app couldn’t establish a connection to my computer.

Tether iPhone HTML5 app

I emailed Tether tech support. Five days later, tech support responded, suggesting I install the latest version of the Mac OS Tether software, version This version had not been available for download when I initially set up Tether on my iPhone and Mac. After installing the update, I made a connection at last…or so I thought. But I still couldn’t access any web pages. Completely frustrated, I gave up and emailed tech support for a refund. To the company’s credit, I received an email within 24 hours, notifying me of the refund.

Maybe you’ll have better luck with Tether. I certainly hope so. If you do, please share your experience in the comments section. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to investigate other workarounds (excluding a jailbreak) for my abusive relationship with AT&T’s personal hotspot feature.