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3Gstore and Nexaira Announce 3G/4G Router That Supports iPhone Tethering

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Friday, 19 November 2010

Since AT&T enabled the "tethering" option for iPhones running iOS4, millions of owners have used their iPhone to provide 3G internet connectivity to their laptops. Tethering, which allows you to use your phone as a mobile broadband modem (similar to using a dedicated USB device) has become very popular with people who need occasional mobile broadband internet access - for example, frequent travelers who want to stay connected while traveling without having to rely on free WiFi hotspots (which can be few and far between or pose security risks) or sign up for a mobile broadband contract they don't really need. While convenient, tethering your iPhone has limitations: it can only be tethered to one computer at a time via USB or Bluetooth, and it can't be tethered to any devices besides computers. So what if you want to be able to share your iPhone's 3G connection with multiple devices or to provide connectivity to a WiFi-only device like the iPad? Customers have been clamoring for a router that supports the iPhone ever since the tethering feature became available, and we are pleased to announce that 3Gstore now has an exclusive version of firmware for the Nexaira BC2 router that supports the iPhone! The BC2 (with the new iPhone-supporting firmware) is the ONLY router that allows you to tether your iPhone and share your iPhone's connection with multiple computers and devices.

How it works:

Unlike other iPhone tethering solutions, tethering your iPhone to the Nexaira BC2 to create a WiFi hotspot DOES NOT require jailbreaking your phone and is completely legitimate (your phone just needs to be running iOS 4+, which is available as a free update). Since this doesn't require jailbreaking your iPhone, you won't have to worry about voiding your warranty, stability issues, or whether you'll be able to install the next version of iOS. However, keep in mind that tethering on AT&T's network requires the "iPhone Data Pro 2GB with tethering" plan, which is $45/month ($20 more than the typical monthly data plan for the iPhone) - and if you currently have the old unlimited data plan on your iPhone, you will lose that if you switch to the 2GB DataPro plan (since AT&T no longer offers an unlimited plan). Not sure if 2GB of data is enough for your needs? Check out our article: What Does 2GB Get Me? If you do need more than 2GB, AT&T's data overage fees for the iPhone are pretty reasonable - $10 for each additional GB past 2GB.


iPhone DataPro 2GB with Tethering Plan

For heavy users who want to tether but are concerned about giving up their unlimited data status, we asked one of our technicians who is constantly using his iPhone to check his data usage for the last several months to see if he was using anywhere near 2GB. To his surprise, he doesn't use anywhere near 2GB per month, even though he is on his phone constantly! The chart below shows his average data usage over the past few months - as you can see, he barely uses a fourth of the 2GB allowance included with the DataPro plan:


Data usage from a heavy user (your usage may vary, check yours at wireless.att.com)

Tethering the iPhone with the BC2 router is a great solution for a variety of users:

  • Any iPhone owner who wants to use their phone to provide internet connectivity to multiple devices including computers, iPad, gaming consoles, and more!
  • Travelers who need occasional internet access for multiple devices
  • Business users wanting to provide free WiFi connectivity for clients at meetings and presentations
  • Business users who rely on internet connectivity and need a failover solution to eliminate internet outages
  • iPhone owners who want mobile broadband service but can't justify the costs of having a dedicated mobile broadband device with a 2 year contract
  • International iPhone owners who need a 3G router (international power adapter sold separately)

Travelers (including RVers) who own an iPhone can really benefit from tethering with the BC2. Tethering is the perfect solution for those who can't justify the costs of buying a dedicated mobile broadband device and the monthly costs of a two-year contract. Since the tethering feature can be turned on and off when you need it, you can save a lot of money by only paying for the service when you're traveling; you can also avoid having to pay for hotel WiFi and the security risks of using free open WiFi networks, which transmit your data unsecured for anyone to see. The BC2 provides a secure connection and is incredibly easy to use - you can connect all of your internet-capable devices via either WiFi or ethernet in a matter of minutes! A 12v vehicle power adapter is available for in-vehicle use, or you can power the BC2 with the Tekkeon MP3450i R2 Battery Pack for truly mobile use.

For business iPhone users, tethering with the BC2 is a great cost-effective solution for providing clients with complimentary secure WiFi access at a sales presentation, meeting, or event at locations where you might not have access to any other internet connectivity. It's also great for small businesses as a low-cost, convenient backup to a primary internet connection. The BC2 also supports wired connections (Cable/DSL/T1), so you can use the BC2's "failover mode" to automatically connect to your iPhone in the event that the primary connection fails. The BC2 will even switch back to your primary internet connection automatically once it has determined that it is stable again! The NexAira BC2 is sure to become popular with iPhone users simply because it supports iPhone tethering, but the BC2 is a great router in and of itself. We recommend reading our full BC2 review to learn more about everything you can do with this router.

Tethering is convenient and ideal for many situations, but since AT&T's DataPro plan only includes 2GB of data usage (for usage on your phone itself and usage while you're tethering), we wouldn't recommend iPhone tethering for anyone who needs more than 2-3GB of data each month. Even though AT&T only charges $10 per GB after you've exceeded 2GB in a month, we recommend that heavy users use a dedicated mobile broadband device from Sprint or Verizon, which offer 5GB/month data plans. For anyone who needs more than 5GB of data in a month, Verizon offers a 10GB plan for the Verizon MiFi hotspot for $80/month.

Performance:

Since AT&T uses the HSPA technology to for their 3G network, iPhone users can make & receive phone calls, send text messages, and use data services on their iPhone while tethered to the BC2 router. The BC2 also charges your iPhone while it is connected via USB, so you'll never have to worry about draining your iPhone's battery when you're tethering. AT&T's HSPA 3G network also provides some pretty impressive speeds for a 3G network (3G is not available everywhere - if you're not sure whether AT&T has 3G service in your area, check the coverage map). One of our technicians has been getting between 2-4Mbps download & 1.0Mbps upload with ping times ranging from 100-30ms.


Speed Test with iPhone 4 tethered to Nexaira BC2

We're very impressed with how well the iPhone works with the Nexaira BC2, but there are some limitations when it comes to advanced functionality due to the way the iPhone handles tethering. This solution will not work for folks who need to set up port forwarding for remote access or any other service that requires port forwarding, as AT&T has blocked all inbound ports on the iPhone's 3G connection. This will not affect the majority of iPhone owners, as we were still able to connect a VOIP phone to receive incoming calls and play online games using the iPhone's 3G connection via the BC2 router - this limitation mainly affects services such as hosting a web server, remote security cameras, and remote administration, as those services require that an inbound request for a specific port be forwarded to the proper device on the network. For these same reasons, IP pass-through mode does not work either, since the iPhone provides the Nexaira BC2 with a local IP address instead of its public address. Again, these limitations only affect services that require inbound port forwarding - if you're trying to figure out what this means and whether it will affect you, then you probably don't have anything to worry about!


While this article mainly focused on the AT&T iPhone in the US, the BC2 should workrk with international versions of the iPhone, as long as your carrier supports tethering. An international power adapter for the BC2 (sold separately) is available for use in other countries, and 3Gstore ships to over 200 countries worldwide! Since we are unable to test with every international carrier, we can't gaurntee that it will will with every carrier.

The NexAira BC2 with 3Gstore's exclusive iPhone tethering support is a great solution for anyone who wants to provide internet connectivity via WiFi or ethernet to multiple devices via the iPhone's 3G connection. Whether you only travel occasionally and want to provide WiFi connectivity for everyone on your trip or you run a business and need uninterrupted internet connectivity, the NexAira BC2 is the perfect accessory to the iPhone!

 

Check out our video demonstration of the Nexaira BC2 tethered with an iPhone:

Order the Nexaira BC2 with iPhone Compatibility from 3Gstore.com


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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 18 January 2011 )
 
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