• iPhone Tethering Roundup

    Here at MMi we like apps that allow tethering your iPhone and computer. Last week we added yet another tethering option to our Cydia repo bringing the count of great tethering apps that we host to three. Confused by your tethering options? Don't understand what tethering is and the possible implications? We hope to clear that all up below.

    What is Tethering?

    Tethering refers to using your iPhone as a modem. By creating a connection between your desktop/laptop and your cell phone you can use your phone's internet connection via your computer allowing wireless internet access if you do not have an ethernet or wifi connection available. This is particularly useful for laptop users on the go that commonly don't have access to internet via other means.

    Tethering Options


    The most recent tethering addition to MMi's Cydia repo. We haven't posted news about this app yet so consider this the news post . Users of other mobile platforms like Windows Mobile or Palm OS will already be familiar with PdaNet -- these folks have been in the mobile tethering biz for quite some time. PdaNet was originally created with the AppStore in mind but was later rejected for the obvious reasons. Apple doesn't support tethering. PdaNet is different from the other iPhone tethering options in how it makes the tether. While the other tethering apps create the connection through a SOCKS proxy PdaNet makes the iPhone act as a wireless router allowing programs that don't operate though proxies (like Mail on OS X) to function correctly with the tether.

    • Easy to use, just download PdaNet from Cydia and create ad-hoc network on your computer. Connect your iPhone to the network, run PdaNet and you're good to go.
    • All applications can connect to the internet with no special configuration needed.
    • Runs in the background so you can use other iPhone features while tethering.

    • There is a theory that tethering through SOCKS proxy prevents your carrier from being able to tell you are tethering. This is a theory is unconfirmed. It may or may not be true/correct. As I mentioned earlier PdaNet does not use a SOCKS proxy.
    • Security. While you can create a password to connect to your ad-hoc network which should be sufficient for many, other tethering options may provide more security.

    iPhoneModem by zsrelay

    This tethering app was the second hosted on our Cydia repo. It creates a tether through a SOCKS proxy. Also included is a download for an excellent OS X app to manage setup and easy creation of the ad-hoc network required for the tether to be established. The computer app looks nice and functions well allowing you to turn the ad-hoc network on and off easily once set up.

    • Computer client provided for OS X for easy setup of network.
    • Connects through a SOCKS proxy (calling this a positive although we aren't positive that that matters)
    • Allows the option of SSH encryption intended to make your connection secure.
    • Runs in the background so you can use other iPhone features while tethering.
    • Free.

    • No Windows client (proxifier may solve this).
    • Some software wont work through this tether (try proxifier).
    • Some software requires setup to work (setup details | try proxifier).
    • OS X 10.4 not supported with client.
    • Opens up a couple ports that some may be worried about.

    iPhoneModem by Addition

    The first app added to our Cydia source iPhoneModem by addition is another app that was originally intended for the Apple AppStore but then rejected. Once again we get to enjoy it because we jailbreak our phones . The tether is through a SOCKS proxy and an OS X client can be downloaded.

    • Easy use. Download/run the client for OS X, connected to the network on your iPhone and run iPhoneModem.app on your iPhone.
    • Desktop client compatible with OS X 10.4.
    • Did we mention it's easy to use?
    • Connects through a SOCKS proxy (calling this a positive although we aren't positive that that matters)

    • Doesn't run in background.
    • No Windows client (proxifier may solve this).
    • Some software wont work through this tether (you might try proxifier).
    • Full version costs $10.
    • Opens up a couple ports that some may be worried about.

    NateTrue's Method

    Similar to both iPhoneModems this method allows you to tether through a SOCKS proxy. It runs in the background and allows you to use other iPhone features while tethering. While this method was the first there is no nifty gui to make things easier. You can check out our guide for this method here.

    Other Things to Consider

    Tethering is specifcally not allowed in the contracts you have to sign with many wireless carriers. Tethering is forbidden in the AT&T contract. Many believe that tethering through a SOCKS proxy hides the fact that you are tethering from AT&T. This may or may not be the case and it all depends on how sophisticated AT&T is while monitoring their network for tethering. In theory if your carrier isn't monitoring the network carefully for tethering then a SOCKS proxy may help provide some protection against being found out. If they are sophisticated then they can look closer at the packets transfered through the iPhone specifically how the header is assembled to figure out that you are tethering.

    With that being said I am under the impression that AT&T is either not sophisticated with their detection of tethering or they currently do not monitor their network for tethering at all. Through conversations I have had with various AT&T managers I have gotten a few different responses varying from "we will cancel your contract" to "we can't tell at all" to "wow how'd you do that teach me!" To date I have yet to hear of anyone having their account cancelled due to tethering. What is clear is that AT&T monitors how much data you are using. If you use a extreme amount of data via your iPhone (we're talking gigabytes) you may receive extra data charges on your bill. I can't say that will always happen but I can say for certain that it has happened. A good way to tell your carrier that you are tethering is torrenting so if you are tethering don't do it. If you choose to tether beware that you do so at your own risk.

    edit: My conversations with AT&T about tethering were all pre-PdaNet. I do not know if that changes anything.
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