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How To Use Your AT&T Phone as a Modem

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AT&T has one of the most thorough websites, with a section on wireless laptop solutions as well as information on tethering handsets.

What You Need To Tether an AT&T Cell Phone

You can tether your AT&T iPhone or most other types of cell phones. To get started using your AT&T cell phone as a modem for your laptop or tablet:

  1. Check if your cell phone is in the list of LaptopConnect compatible cell phones.
  2. Updated AT&T data plans: Starting June 7, 2010, AT&T is allowing tethering on its new DataPro plans only, for $20 extra a month, but this does not include additional data usage -- data accessed from your laptop count as part of the DataPro's 2GB limit.

    "Grandfathered" customers who had a DataConnect Plan may be able to keep their existing tethering service, which starts at $20 for light users and goes up to $60 for 5GB of monthly usage (similar to AT&T's mobile broadband plans that allow laptop users to directly connect to the Internet using a network card).

    AT&T has a comparison chart of available rate plans for you to compare options. Note that the DataConnect plans are in addition to data plans needed for your smartphone or PDA and the amount of data you can access with the plan is limited, so tethering can be pricey.
  3. To tether your cell phone to your laptop, you can use either bluetooth (if your laptop and cell phone are both bluetooth-capable) or a cable (USB or serial), depending on your particular phone.
  4. Finally, you also need to install AT&T's Communication Manager software on your laptop; the software is also only compatible with Windows, though.

Once you have all these things in place, you can use AT&T's software on your laptop to initiate the connection to your cell phone and use it as a modem for going online. Be aware while you are using the service, though, of that data cap. You don't want to go over the limit and find huge fees on your next bill!

Note: AT&T also provides free basic service wi-fi access at their hotspots for DataConnect customers, an added bonus.

Tethering on Other Carriers

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