iPhone Tethering, Not As Hard As It Looks

In a flip-flop move reminisant of John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, Rogers Wireless has reversed it’s policy regarding smart phone tethering. I’m not even going to try to speculate what’s going on internally with this company. Buried in this CBC article about Rogers’ (baffling) new data plans is this nugget:

Unlike other cellphone carriers, Rogers is allowing customers to “tether” their smartphones, or connect them to a computer and use them as a modem.

This new policy was one of the reasons I decided to jailbreak my iPhone earlier this week.

Finally got around to trying it out tonight. A quick google pulled up a very ominous looking 9 step How To. In actuality there are only 3 things you really have to set up. 1) ad-hoc network on the pc, 2) run ‘socks’ on iPhone, 3) set up SOCKS proxy connection in your browser

First Impressions:

  • 3G is fast! Speedtest.net gave me 2742 kb/s down and 246 kb/s up. That was with full bars of reception, during off-peak. This is definitely fast enough for standard browsing and not too bad for file downloads. I’ve gotten worse connections with paid wifi.
  • Because it’s a browser based solution, it’s somewhat limiting. I suspect there’s some software available that would hook into a proxy server at on a lower level, it might even be a standard configuration setting in windows. I didn’t look into it.
  • Either the socks app stopped working and/or firefox randomly forgot my proxy settings. Over the course of my 15 minute trial, I had to reset firefox’s proxy settings 5 or 6 times.
  • Battery drain on the iPhone is high. You probably only have an hour max.

Overall, it’s pretty cool.
That said, I’m not entirely sure where I’d use this. Most of the time the iPhone is going to be as much internet as I need. I might use it at an airport, if I wanted to sync some podcasts before a long flight or something. I may use it if I wanted to work in a wifi-less location. Other than that, it’s a good backup incase the cable ever goes down.