Tag Archive for ‘Tethering’

Living on Cellular

My wife and I closed on our new house late last week. There’s still a great deal of unpacking to do, but most of the work that needed to be done — plumbing, tree removal, and electrical — are completed. We couldn’t be happier in the new place, its quickly starting to feel like home.

One utility that we wanted to get taken care of as quickly as possible was our home internet connection. Behind running water, heat, and electricity, internet access is our most important service. The vast majority of our communication and media is delivered through the internet. Living without access, for even a few days, would be a dreadful experience.

Luckily, earlier this year, my wife and I switched to a cellular data plan that allowed us to use Personal Hotspot on our iPhones. This served as a functional stopgap while we waited the four days for Spectrum to send a technician to run a line into our home. Relying on Personal Hotspot for four days turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag, though.

I was able to connect an Apple TV and my iPad at the same time, which let us watch television while I browsed the web and checked Twitter on my tablet. The speed was quite good, too. Our cellular connection was able to sustain download speeds around 30Mbps — much faster than the 5-10Mbps I typically see while I’m at work, which is only about three miles away from the house.

But using Personal Hotspot became a chore. After some period of inactivity, iOS automatically shuts the feature off, even if you’re iPhone is plugged into a power outlet. This means I regularly had to toggle the feature back on in Settings, even if I was only away from my devices for a few minutes to grab a drink or run to the bathroom. You forget how convenient always-on internet connections are until you don’t have them.

And then there are all the modern conveniences that require a home internet connection to function. Plex being the perfect example. My wife and I use Plex to watch all of the content we own, whether it be movies and TV shows on DVDs that we’ve ripped or the iTunes purchased content that we’ve stripped the DRM from, Plex is an essential part of our entertainment setup.

We often watch episodes of Boy Meets World or King of the Hill through Plex before we fall asleep. But Plex doesn’t work without an internet connection. Even if the client you’re using and the Plex server are on the same network. I suppose I could have connected our Mac Mini, which runs Plex, and our Apple TV to my iPhone’s Personal Hotspot. But that’s an awful lot of rigamarole just to get our Ben Savage fix. We usually just ended up watching Property Brothers on Hulu.

The last major annoyance was controlling our HomeKit devices. We have an iDevices Switch in our bedroom connected to a box fan. We run the box fan at night for the white noise and the air flow. Surprisingly, HomeKit devices don’t seem to need access to the internet to function, but in order to control them from our iPhones, we have to be on the same network. That means we had the extra steps of toggling Wi-Fi on, before interacting with the HomeKit switch, and toggling Wi-Fi back off afterward so that we had access to the internet. It doesn’t sound like much, but it probably would have been easier to just get up and slap the button on the side of the switch.

After four days of this dreadful, home-internet-less lifestyle, a Spectrum technician finally came to our house and ran a coaxial line into our office. It took him all of fifteen minutes to install and we were up and running. It was probably the most pleasant experience I’ve had dealing with someone from a cable company. The guy knew what he was doing and placed the line exactly where I told him to.

Now I’ll be able to turn our office closet into the heart of our home network. It will house our modem, Time Capsule, HDHomeRun, and Mac Mini — which acts as our home server. And I couldn’t be happier to have internet access on all of our devices again, without having to fuss about on my iPhone beforehand.

AT&T Cracking Down on Unofficial iPhone Tethering Users ➝

OS X Daily:

Customers are being notified that their service plans need updating to subscribe to a tethering plan, and that they will be automatically subscribed to a DataPro 4GB package that costs $45 per month if they continue to tether. In the email, AT&T also notes that if customers discontinue the use of tethering, no changes will be made to their plan.

I can understand this change for people who have the unlimited data plan, but if you are on the 2GB a month plan you should be able to use those 2GB however you choose to.

iPhone Mobile Hotspot Will Cost an Additional $20 a Month ➝

Macworld spoke with Verizon Wireless’s Executive Director of Corporate Communications, Brenda Raney, who detailed the Verizon iPhone’s data plans. It’s fantastic that Verizon is offering unlimited data with the iPhone for $30 a month. But, it’s incredibly unfortunate to hear that Verizon is capping the Mobile Hotspot feature at 2GB per month..

Internet Tethering coming to iPad? ➝

Mark Gurman reporting for 9 to 5 Mac:

Hidden within the APN network settings on the iPad 3G is a new section dedicated to internet tethering. This tethering appears to be the type of tethering iPhones currently use versus tethering the iPhone’s internet to an iPad.

Internet tethering sounds much more attractive on the iPad than it does on the iPhone. The increased battery life of the iPad and the ability to turn on both 3G and tethering without any contracts seems like the perfect fit.

AT&T Announces Data Plan Changes ➝

AT&T has announced availability of tethering for the iPhone and sweeping changes to their data plans. The current $30 unlimited smartphone data plan will be replaced with two new plans. DataPlus will give you 200MB for $15 per month and DataPro will give you 2GB for $25 per month. Overage charges have changed as well, customers with the 200MB plan will be charged $15 for each additional 200MB while customers on the 2GB plan will be charged $10 for each additional gigabyte. Current customers of the $30 unlimited plan will be grandfathered in but can switch at any time.

Tethering is finally coming to the iPhone on AT&T and will be offered as an add-on to the DataPro plan for $20 extra per month. The additional cost to add tethering sounds reasonable but 2GB of shared data sounds a little on the slim side. However, compared to the $90 you’d spend on iPhone data and a 3G adapter for your laptop, it’s not too bad a deal.

The final change is that the $30 iPad unlimited data plan will be replaced with the same $25/2GB smartphone plan.

All of these changes will be taking place on June 7, except for iPhone tethering which will launch when iPhone OS 4 does.

I suspect these changes will benefit the vast majority of users, I would consider myself a heavy data user and I’ve barely used 2GB of data in the past 4 months. I’m not happy that this is the end of honest to goodness unlimited data, but I’m glad to save a few bucks every month.

iPhone Tethering May be a 2010 Thing ➝

9 to 5 Mac was recently sent a note by an AT&T spokesman regarding an article on their website that claimed that iPhone tethering would be coming in 2009.

Just reading again – where did anyone promise tethering by [end of year]? Where did you see that? We promised MMS by end of summer and ended up being a few days late for that…

Tethering has been available in other countries since iPhone firmware 3.0 was released back in June. There have been ways of enabling it here but none of them officially supported by AT&T and Apple. And, you would have to pass on updating to firmware 3.1.

There is still a glimmer of hope that this was just a nitpicking AT&T employee simply pointing out that a time frame hasn’t officially been announced, but it’s probably safe to say that tethering is a 2010 thing.

By the way, for those of you lucky enough to purchase Netshare before it was pulled from the App Store: it still works.

Appmodo Still Claims $55 as Tethering Price
6/25/09: Enable Tethering and MMS Using MobileSafari

Update 11/14/09: AT&T on iPhone Tethering and Verizon Ads

MMS Coming to the iPhone September 25 ➝

AT&T has confirmed that MMS will be coming to the iPhone 3G and 3GS on September 25.

We’ve been working for the past several months to prepare our systems and network to ensure the best possible experience with MMS when it launches – and that launch date is: September 25 for iPhone 3G and 3GS customers. MMS will be enabled through a software update on that day.

There’s still no word on tethering but the announcement goes on to talk about the massive increase in data usage on AT&T’s network since the launch of the iPhone (350% year-over-year). With how long it took AT&T to “prepare” for MMS, they don’t make me feel like tethering is coming any time soon.

7/11/09: Appmodo Still Claims $55 as Tethering Price
6/25/09: Enable Tethering and MMS Using MobileSafari
6/18/09: MMS Coming to iPhone in July, Tethering Will Cost $55

Update 9/6/09: YouTube – AT&T Network 101 & MMS Availability Update

Update 9/9/09: In another attempt to improve their network, AT&T has announced their rollout plans for 7.2Mbps 3G service.

Update 9/13/09: There have been several reports (MobileCrunch, HowardForums, and Mediaite) that AT&T has already began rolling out MMS to some iPhone users. For what it’s worth, I don’t have it yet and haven’t spoken with anyone who has.

Update 9/23/09: From AT&T’s Facebook page:

MMS Update: We know you’ve been eager for this service so we wanted to offer a quick update on the launch plans for MMS on Friday, Sept. 25. Late morning, Pacific Time, on Friday, the new carrier settings update enabling MMS should be live and ready to download through iTunes. We’ll provide the steps and all of the details you need right here at that time.

Update 10/16/09: iPhone Tethering May be a 2010 Thing

Update 11/14/09: AT&T on iPhone Tethering and Verizon Ads

Appmodo Still Claims $55 as Tethering Price ➝

Even though AT&T has denied the $55 per month pricing for tethering, Appmodo is still claiming it as the price.

Appmodo is the source of the original rumor in the middle of June saying that both MMS and tethering were to be coming in July with tethering costing $55 per month.

Not only is Appmodo claiming that it is still set to cost $55 per month on top of the current iPhone data plan they are also claiming that it has been pushed back to September.

There is a general consensus amongst most writers who focus on Apple news that AT&T is worried that turning on tethering and MMS would be detrimental to the quality of their data network. But, if that is the case then why would AT&T turn both of them on at the same time? Wouldn’t it be smarter to turn MMS on first and then allow people to tether a month or so later?

Appmodo is sourcing an “undisclosed reputable AT&T employee” and I have a feeling that they are telling the truth, but am worried that their source doesn’t actually know the real deal. I’m sure their source believes the information he has to be true, but whether or not it will remain this way at launch is a completely different story.

Don’t forget that as long as AT&T doesn’t bill you extra for doing so, you can turn on tethering right now.

Update 8/3/09: According to iPhone Alley firmware 3.1 beta has already enabled MMS, so it is likely that MMS will be enabled for all iPhone 3G and 3GS users with the final 3.1 update.