Tethering your iPhone as a wireless modem with Telstra.


This can now be done via ‘hotspot’ on iPhones. This article is here for historic purposes.

Yesterday Telstra turned on internet tethering for the iphone! (I think they are the only carrier in Australia to do this.)

Tethering is where you use your iPhone as a wireless modem to connect your computer to the web. It’s useful if you are out with your laptop and you don’t have access to the web. Just plug your iPhone into your laptop via USB and it acts as a wireless modem! Here’s how to get it going. NOTE: Apple have now changed this to be called ‘Personal Hotspot’ instead of ‘Internet Tethering’. It works the same though.

1. On your iphone go to Settings General Network and if tethering is available with your mobile carrier there will be a pane called internet tethering (or ‘Personal Hotspot’  that looks like this:


Turn it on. Tethering is now enabled on your iphone.

If you don’t see this – go to iTunes when your iPhone is connected and click on the ‘Check for update’ Button to download the new Carrier settings from Telstra.

2. Plug your iPhone into your computer via the USB cable. When tethering is on  you’ll get a message like this:

Click on network preferences and iphone will become your modem like this:

Screen shot 2009-12-07 at 11.42.22 AM

You should now be able to surf the web on your laptop. Your iphone will light up like this to show you are tethering.

Speed is great, ping a bit slow… (Make sure you are on a big data plan!)

Screen shot 2009-12-07 at 11.45.12 AM



23 responses to “Tethering your iPhone as a wireless modem with Telstra.”

  1. Pen

    Awesome! I really needed intermittent web access on my laptop today while working with a client on-site. Totally saved my ar$e. I nearly rushed out and purchased a usb 3G modem.

    Thanks heaps.

    PS: So easy. Only took a few minutes and I was away!

  2. Longie

    Does anyone know if it will use included data or if it charges you seperately for the data used?



    1. It uses your normal iphone data – your data pack. If your data pack runs out, you get charged heaps and heaps. I used up my prepaid $40 credit in a few minutes when I accidentally let my data pack run out.

  3. Kosta

    Tethering is not in my network preferences why?

    1. No idea – do you have latest software and updates in the iphone and computer?

  4. Kredit

    Good on you guys for not charging extra for tethering, I’m so happy that Telstra has enabled tethering on the iPhone – I was playing around with it over the weekend and the speed was excellent!

  5. tom

    i have the same problem as kosta, i have all the latest updates ‘n’ stuff, i am pre-paid, and bought my phone factory unlocked could either of these things be the problem? if so how could i fix it? if not any other ideas? thanks in advance for any help

  6. jo

    I am about to get an iPhone and have been wondering about this tethering bit.

    Have been thinking of getting rid of my landline but only keeping it on as I want to have internet available to me at home. I’m not a huge user on the web – mainly emails, occasional facebook and checking out a few things on the web.
    So, tomorrow when I pick up my Iphone – do i go for the larger plan and rely on “tethering” for checking emails and facebook at home or do I keep plodding along in my dinosaur ways with a landline, mobile and internet connection! feels like too many account admin fees to me. WHat do others think? And if I’m going with a telstra capped plan, is there anything I need to be aware of regarding fee structure?

    1. Amanda

      Just make sure you get a large data pack, e.g., if you are going for the $79 Telstra cap plan, pay and extra $4.50 and get the 3GB data pack, it should be more than ample.

  7. Greg

    Regarding ping times, 3G networks switch modems/phones between several types of data channel, to manage a compromise of performance, battery life, and network capacity. A ping test conducted within seconds after a large data movement will probably show much lower latency than one done after sitting idle for half a minute.

  8. John

    can i-phone 4 be used as a dial-up modem. not internet but dial out to another phone modem??

    1. I don’t think so, have you checked app store for modem app?

  9. Tiago

    I have a home internet with Telstra and In my house using a Thompson moden my laptop’s is getting a weaker signal than my iphone, so I’m using tethering and wandering if it’s using my 3G data plan or my home internet which is 100GB…

    1. Ricg

      If you are tethering, it will use hard wired modem before wireless, try this,left click network “icon” in notification area (near taskbar clock) then left “click” open network and sharing, on top left menu left “click” change adapter settings. In this section you can right click a connection and disable or enable “either connection” careful your neighbours could be there as well, if so disable theirs from your computer. You should have one for Thompson and one for iPhone (atleast) and there maybe some wireless adapters on your PC as well which are not used !! (maybe Atheros or like that). Just enable the adapter you want to use and you can “right click” any adapter and change them over at any time.. “just select enable on the one you want to use and disable on the other (after right clicking them).. good luck.. try not to run two adapters like usb tether and wireless at the same time, if you do “always assume the data is coming off your phone plan, unless your have it disabled!!

  10. Edwina

    Can I use the bluetooth facility to tether my iphone4 to my ipad? Ipad is 1 not ipad2.

  11. tedd

    iphone 3gs tethering to pc laptop, and imac desktop worked well for me.
    decided to be ‘good’ and upgrade software on imac and iphone to 4.3.1.
    still tethers from imac (now called Personal Hotspot) but not to laptop.

    really annoying, s’pose i should upgrade itunes on laptop but how do i connect to net?!
    New ‘features’ of software noway compensate for this loss of tethering so beware!

  12. Doug

    Does anyone know if the new iPhone 4s has the same tethering feature? I still use my Nokia as a modem, but lately have found Nokia support to be lacking and sometimes it won’t connect to the internet at all. So I was planning on buying the new iPhone 4s…but tethering for me is a must so I don’t want to spend big money on a new phone that doesn’t have tethering! Can anyone advise??

  13. Kelly

    Yes the iPhone 4s does tether to laptops. Has anyone tried to tether it to the new iPad?

  14. Kelly

    Sorry the iPhone 4s calls it Personal Hotspot instead. You’ll see the options are the same tho. Make sure you have password protection so the person next to you does sneak in on your data when on wifi.

  15. Ben

    The first week I did this (using iPhone as modem for laptop) my 15GB data usage went from 9GB used ( checked on the monday) to 6GB over (by friday) meaning I had used 12GB over a 5 day period!! I have no idea how this happened as I wasn’t downloading movies or anything massive. I called Telstra to ask what the problem was but no-one could tell me. Instead I got sold the 4G usb stick with 15GB for $90 a month and I got rid of the extra data pack (12GB for $70) that I had for my iPhone ($130 a month which includes 3GB).

    What I would like to know (and which Telstra hasn’t been able to tell me) is, what exactly is the rate charged for tethering and what is it based on (i.e. is it $$ per MB or some sort of data deduction from my data pack etc)?

    I really want an explanation of how this all works because I wouldn’t have bothered getting a wireless internet usb stick with 15GB when I already had 15GB on my iPhone. Can anyone please explain all this tethering business??

  16. Ronnie

    I am using personal hotspot through Bluetooth option to use my iPhone as modem for my iPad. Can other users use my sevice? Thanks

  17. You have to approve for your iPhone and ipad to connect via bluetooth so other can only use it if you let them.

  18. Jamie

    Bluetooth tethering too slow for anything other than basic browsing, and USB wont work, network cannot detected it. Mac’s used to be fantastic for connectivity, now a different F word describes their uselessness.

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