Many people do not realize that their cell phones can be connected to their computer and used as a wireless modem. One of the key benefits of accessing the internet via your cell phone is that it makes mobile computers users less dependent on finding Wi-Fi hotspots, or even worse, available Ethernet ports. While technology is certainly not new, the utility of this capability has increased exponentially. In the past, data speeds achieved by using mobile phones as wireless modems had not been much faster than 56Kbps and users experienced problems when they transmitted or downloaded large amounts of data. Fortunately, mobile phone carriers have introduced 3G services that offer broadband speeds ranging from 144Kbps to a possible 2Mbps per second.
How To Use Cell Phone As Modem For Wireless Internet?
To access the Internet via a cell phone as modem, the following prerequisites should be met. First the cell phone must be data capable and able to connect to a computer via a data cable or Bluetooth. Second, the user must subscribe to their provider’s data service. If your phone is not modem capable, then you will need to purchase a PC card modem for the laptop.
AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile all offer wireless modem capable cell phones. The following information describes the services offered and how to transform a cell phone into a wireless modem.
AT&T : Using a AT&T Cell Phone as Modem
AT&T offers phone-as-modem packages ranging from $60 to $80 a month. In addition, users who have a voice plan with AT&T will benefit from a lower monthly usage fee.
Listed below are steps to help you get started using a handset as a wireless modem:
Verizon Wireless: Using a Verizon Cell Phone as a Modem
Verizon's BroadbandAccess Connect is offered at $60 a month for standard cell phones and $30 a month for PDA phones. With BroadbandAccess Connect, you can use a cell phone, Smartphone or BlackBerry as a wireless modem for your notebook by connecting the two using a USB cable. You will not have to buy an extra PC Card if you have BroadbandAccess Connect.
The VZAccess Manager software is usually already installed on Verizon phones. If a handset does not have this application, then it can be downloaded. Standard cell phones may also need the $40 Mobile Office Kit, which includes a USB cable and PC software to use Verizon's phones-as-modem services.
The VZAccess Manager software should also be installed on the user's computer. To use the service, the user must open VZAccess and physically connect the cell phone to the PC, using a USB cable. The user should then wait for the application to identify the phone. After following additional instructions, the handset will function as a wireless modem.
Here are some of the Verizon handsets that can be used as a wireless modem:
Sprint: How to Use Your Sprint Cell Phone as a Modem
Sprint offers an Unlimited Phone as Modem plan that costs $50 a month. Customers may also choose the Flexible Phone as Modem plan, which is cheaper at $40 a month. Customers can transfer up to 40MB of data monthly with Sprint's flex option. However, a fee of $0.001 for each additional kilobyte to a maximum of $70 will be charged to customers who exceeded the 40MB limit. Sprint requires customers to sign a two-year service contract before they can use their handset as a wireless modem.
To use Sprint's service, a user should first download the free Sprint PCS Connection Manager software and install it on a PC. Then the user should connect the phone to the computer before launching the Connection Manager application.
Here are some of the Sprint handsets that can be used as a wireless modem:
T-Mobile: Using T-Mobile Cell Phone as a Modem
Officially, T-Mobile does not support its phones as a modem. This means that T-Mobile Customer Care will not assist you if you ask them for help about using their phone as a wireless modem. Fortunately some of the company's handsets and recent Smartphones can, in fact, work as modems. Using T-Mobile phones in a certain way ensures that service agreements are not violated.
These tips can help you to set up your handheld for use as a modem:
First you will need a T-Mobile data plan that offers unlimited data access. If you bought a recent smartphone from T-Mobile, then you probably already have this plan.
Then you need to create a new modem connection. You need to create a new internet connection in Windows XP and choose a manual setup for a dial-up modem. The dial-in number for T-Mobile is *99#, with no name or password.
Then you need to enter a special "init string" in your modem's properties in Windows XP. You can find this under Control Panel. Go to Phones and Modem Options and choose the Modems tab. You can then begin to dial and connect to the Internet. Blackberry users need to make sure that the BlackBerry Desktop is running on the PC.
Here are some of the T-Mobile handsets that can be used as a wireless modem:
Now that you know how you can use a cell phone as modem to connect to the Internet while on the road and what you need when other Internet access options are available you can use your cell phone as wireless modem. With the right cell phone and online data service, the Internet is just a call away.
Update: Below are helpful links related to this topic:
If you would like to learn more, check out the Wireless Modem article on Wikipedia.