3G and the tethered Mac

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Replaced my old phone (an original Razr) with a Razr2 V9 the other day and modified my plan to include the “unlimited” AT&T MediaNet data package.   Within an hour or two of unboxing it, I realized this phone won’t sync with my Mac’s address book via iSync and I’m annoyed that even a little bit of pre-selection research would have alerted me to the problem.   Bummer… and a step backward since the old Razr synced flawlessly.

Now that Apple’s in the phone business, I guess you just have to go with an iPhone if you want syncing support out of Cupertino.

Happily, a few hours later I discovered that this V9 does know one trick an iPhone can’t manage: sharing the phone’s 3G network connection with my MacBook via EDR Bluetooth.

Here’s how it’s done (instructions based on Mac OS X 10.5.5):

Pair your Razr2 and Macbook together

1. Make sure bluetooth is “ON” on the phone and laptop. On the phone, turn on the “Find Me” option (e.g., make discoverable).
2. Launch the Bluetooth pref pane under System Preferences.
3. Select “Set Up New Device”
4. Select “Mobile Phone” under device type and press Continue
5. When your phone appears in the list, hit Continue
6. Over on the phone, you’ll suddenly be asked to “Bond With?” your laptop’s name. Press YES then enter the PIN number displayed on the laptop’s screen.
7. Put a checkmark in “Access the Internet with your phone’s data connection” then hit Continue
8. Make sure Phone Vendor is set to MOTOROLA and the model setting is GPRS (GSM/3G). Leave username, password and APN blank. I have CID set to 1 (not sure what it means). Hit Continue.
9. Screen should say “Congratulations” and offer a few other status messages (e.g., “A computer serial port was created.”).
10. Hit Quit

Press the “Show All” button and select the “Network” pref pane

1. Highlight the Bluetooth connection in the list at the left of the window. Then press the Connect button that appears on the right side of the pane. A “Connecting..” message appears at the top of the pane and once successful, you’ll see a set of nostalgia-inducing “modem lights”

Close the pref pane, launch your browser and begin working the net at 3G speed (where available).

Be advised that it’s much slower than WiFi (I seem to average about 600kps down) and after a few minutes it seems to slow down considerably (throttling? or maybe we’re just having a bad 3G night as I test this).

But slow performance aside, it’s still a useful addition to  your toolbox. And who knows, having this fallback method in place might just save your vacation one of these days—assuming you’re the one that gets those disaster calls.

2 thoughts on “3G and the tethered Mac

  1. Phillip

    I tried this tutorial with my new Razr2 V9x. Everything worked as it should until I tried actually using the internet connection. My MacBook said I was connected to my phone and it was sending and recieving packets, but my browser could not access the internet.

    Do you know if a firmware update changed something?

  2. Wally Post author

    No, I don’t. I can tell you that what usually happens for me (and I don’t do this that often) is that I get net access for about two minutes and then things just come to a standstill. It is probably something about AT&T blocking bandwidth to a phone that’s not on the tethered data plan.

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