You may remember this video we did a couple of years ago when we first got our Droid smartphones. It shows how we use some software called PDANet to tether our phone to our computer, giving the computer an Internet connection.
New Smartphones with New PDANet = WiFi Hotspot on your Phone
Both Jim and I now have Droid RAZR smartphones and they have the ability to be a WiFi hotspot. If you go thru Verizon and turn on that feature, it will cost you an extra fee. However, if you use the PDANet/FoxFi software, you just pay once for the software and the hotspot gets its data from your phone’s data plan. It’s really amazing.
After you’ve downloaded the necessary software, you just turn on your phone, touch the App called PDANet or FoxFi, touch ‘Activate WiFi Hotspot mode’, and voila! You can look at the available WiFi hotspots on your computer or tablet and you’ll see your phone listed. Connect to it, and you’re online, using the the Internet connection provided by your phone. Geeks on Tour members can watch the video on exactly how this works.
This is using the data on your phone’s data plan, so be aware of your data usage to avoid exceeding your contract limits. If you had an original Verizon unlimited plan, I hope you renewed it recently because you will no longer be grandfathered into the unlimited plan. Although there is iPhone versions of the PDANet software, Apple doesn’t allow it, so you have to ‘Jailbreak’ your phone – cutting the umbilical cord to Apple – before you can install it.
What is FoxFi?
FoxFi is free software, that turns your Android smartphone into a Wi-Fi Hotspot without turning on any extra features from your cellular provider (Verizon, AT&T etc.) You just install it from the Google Play store, you don’t have to root your phone or do anything special. If you don’t know what ‘rooting’ means – don’t worry about it! You don’t have to do it. It works on most Samsung/Motorola/LG phones and new HTC phones with Android 4.0.
What is PDANet?
PDANet is software from Junefabrics.com. Although there is a free version, we recommend the full version currently priced at $16. That is a one time fee. If you get the free version you will not be able to use the Internet connection to browse to secure sites. PDANet is the software we demonstrated in the video above to tether your phone to your computer with a cable. The latest version includes an option for WiFi Hotspot mode. When you select that, you’ll see FoxFi! These two great products have joined forces. I like that because I sometimes have trouble with the WiFi and plugging in the cable solves my problems.
Is this Illegal?
No, this is not illegal. Of course the cellphone companies would rather you pay their extra fees for the tethering/hotspot options, but when we’re paying them nearly $300/mo already, I really don’t think they mind! I was a bit surprised, however, to find the salesmen in the Verizon booth at our last rally telling customers about FoxFi! I guess they figure it sells phones and data plans if you know you can use your phone to provide Internet to your other devices as well. You’re still paying Verizon for the Internet use.
For travelers, especially fulltime RVers like us, this is a wonderful way to get Internet on the road.