PdaNet 3.0 lets you hide Android tethering from your wireless carrier


The latest versions of Android and iOS have data tethering features built right into the mobile operating systems. This lets you turn your 3G or 4G phone into a USB modem, sharing your internet connection with a laptop or other device over WiFi, USB, or Bluetooth connections. But people have been tethering phones using third party apps for ages. What’s different is that now that the feature is built into the OS, most wireless carriers charge an extra monthly fee for tethering — even though most carriers don’t actually give you any extra data for the money.

Recently a number of iPhone and Android users who have been tethering without paying for a tethering plan have reported that they’ve received warnings from AT&T letting them know that they need to switch plans. Reports have also started making the rounds suggesting that some phone carriers are blocking access to tethering apps in the Android Market — although you may still be able to download and install some of these apps from third party web sites.

Now the developer of PdaNet, a popular app that lets you tether mobile phones to computers, has released an updated Android app which may help you avoid paying extra fees. PdaNet 3.0 for Android includes a feature which the developer says will hide your tethering use from your wireless carrier. In other words, your data usage will look like regular smartphone data usage and won’t be distinguishable from data being transferred through your phone to your computer.

It’s not clear how this feature works or how long it will take for phone carriers to get around it. But my guess is that occasional tethering users who don’t consume huge amounts of data will be able to continue flying below the radar, while users who are approaching their monthly data caps each month are more likely to draw unwanted attention from their mobile carriers.

PdaNet is available as a free download from the Android Market. You’ll also need to install a desktop app on your Windows or Mac computer. A full license for the software currently runs $15.95.

via EuroDroid

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Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since 2006. Brad has also worked with NPR, WHYY, PRI, and AOL.

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  • Huh?

    I don’t get it. Previous versions of PdaNet have said something similar. Along the lines of the carrier only sees that the data comes from/to the phone and can’t tell it’s being tethered. What’s the difference now? Other than PdaNet’s change of wording, of course.

  • Eh

    Their Twitter page says “3.0 adds a feature to hide tether usage. Most users do not need to turn it on unless you have received a message from such as T-Mobile.” From what I’ve read, T-Mobile just looks at the browser’s user agent string to determine if it’s a mobile browser or not. Of course, that’s not a very good indicator since many Android browsers allow you to change this string to avoid all the crappy mobile versions of sites. Since PdaNet mentions T-Mobile, I’m guessing they’re just changing this string automatically.

  • Dilbert

    When you signed your contact, you agreed not to tether without paying the extra. This app is nothing but something to help people steal what they agreed not to in the first place.

  • Reality

    How do you steal data you paid to use? I pay for unlimited data and I expect to use that data how I choose. I even accept they throttle the usage so what’s the big deal?

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  • Wally

    Just because it’s in a contract doesn’t make it right or even legal. At least in the US, there are laws that could void contracts. Something like the no tethering clause of the contract could be an example.

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  • smarter than you

    I didnt see anything in my contract not to tether so unless you can back up what you say with the contract or a copy to post of you contract that states we agree no to us the internet or to tether, then you don’t know what you are talking about and seem to be a …….

  • Bobsaget

    I signed my first verizon contract years before tethering was even though of. They can’t just add stuff to it without telling you. Why don’t they just put in there that I have to buy a car for the CEO ever year. “it’s in the contract, you have to do it.”