Sunday, February 28, 2010

iPhone tethering enabled with 3.1.3 on Proximus

My offspring told me the good news earlier today. He's on Mobile Vikings, a young and agile local operator, and he said that they have been recently 'advertising' to their subscribers about tethering on 3.1.3. I searched the net with the usual suspect keywords and to my astonishment I found quite a few stories about the 3.1.3 tethering ability for Proximus subscribers. I mentioned 'astonishment' because Proximus is notorious for leaving its customers in the cold about details like these. Anyhow, there are plenty enough friendly souls in the blogosphere who offer free advice to do the job instead of big lazy fatso Belgacom NV*.

Actually, preparing the iPhone tethering is quite simple. After upgrading to firmware version 3.1.3 the settings/general/cellular data network path leads you to three field groups, Cellular Data, MMS and Tethering. The Proximus setting for Tethering is identical to the Cellular Data, that is, APN is set equal to, and the Login and Password fields are left empty. Reboot and you are good to go. Make sure that after restart you set Tethering to 'on', following the path settings/general, just below Data Roaming. Morale of the story: you don't really have to go look for those conspicuous ipcc files corresponding to your host operator, and get pissed if you can't manage to get one, as your operator happens to be just one of these monopolistic mules (like mine is), who don't care a diddly squat about which hardware you use. All you need to do is manually enter the APN value for your operator** (mine is Proximus as you might have guessed), and then reboot, to be on the safe side that it'll work.

I must admit, I haven't been able to get USB to work on my Macbook. Don't exactly know why. I might have deleted by accident (!?) the corresponding port in my Network settings. First time ever I tried the tethering some time ago (was it with iPhone version 3.0?) the Macbook created such a port automatically, and connected to the iPhone the Mac way, no fuss whatsoever... I think. Not this time though. Who knows what happened to that USB port? The way I'm usually going about with my MacBook system software (and settings) nothing can surprise me anymore. So, this time over I tried tethering via Bluetooth. I have always had bad experiences with Bluetooth on my Macs, but this time the Macbook connected to the iPhone just fine, on the first try. The CyberGods heard my prayers after all, inchallah! After that happened, the familiar tethering alert appeared on the iPhone just below the clock title, in a blueish band. Browsing on the Macbook responded right away next, in a heartbeat.

Initially, I'd forgotten to set my cellular network to 3G, and browsing on the Mac was kinda slow, like in the old days, like with turtle slow modems. After setting the speed to 3G though, Macbook browsing went stellar. I was impressed, I mean it. On an iPhone, 3G browsing is pretty fast too, but as I just found out, way slower than the equivalent tethered browsing on the Macbook. I wonder what browsing speeds we shall end up experiencing on iPads, by the way. Will they be as fast as on tethered Macbooks or will they be more like iPhones? Who can tell? If the 3G-iPad web browsing proves as slow as on iPhones however, then it's no good to wait for these models to come out at all. Just go grab one off the first shipments, with only the Wifi available. Also, could the lowest spec iPad model be tethered to iPhones? I wonder about that too. A few more weeks and I suspect we shall get all answers to these burning questions. One way or another, I can't wait to put my hands on one of these marvels though. I love iPhone to my heart but web browsing and some other hot iPhone apps are desperately screaming for much larger real estate, especially for aging dudes with deteriorating vision like myself.

* If Belgacom publishes 'help' tips about these issues, apologies for my earlier comments. It's curious though that, if they did, their tips don't seem to show up in Google's high ranks, like they do with Mobile Vikings and others like them...
** There are plenty of websites available showing APN settings for almost every operator on the planet. For tethering, just use the same settings as for Cellular Data - these are the values you're likely to spot on such websites.

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