Hack 3. Connect Mac OS X with a Bluetooth Phone

No hotspots nearby? Use your Mac and a Bluetooth phone to get online almost anywhere.

If your mobile phone plan [Hack #17] gives you some flavor of cellular data accessGPRS, EDGE, 1xRTT, or any of their acronym cousinsyou can use that access with a Bluetooth phone and your Mac to get online. The benefits are obvious: you don't need a wireless access point in range, you don't have to pay for access to a hotspot, and a mobile signal is available (almost) everywhere.

Mac OS X makes cellular data access simple. If you are setting up your Bluetooth phone with your Mac for the first time, follow along and you'll be using your cellular data minutes in, well, minutes!

1.4.1. Requirements

Obviously, you're going to need a Mac with Bluetooth. Bluetooth has come standard with most PowerBooks for a couple years now or as an option on many other Mac models, including iBooks, PowerMacs, and iMacs. Third-party Bluetooth adapters are also available from vendors such as D-Link, for practically any Mac with a USB port.

Secondly, you'll need a Bluetooth-capable phone. Apple maintains a list of phones (http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/isync/devices.html) known to work with the iSync program that ships with Mac OS X 10.3 and later. There are also many Bluetooth phones not on this list that will happily pair with your Mac and which can be used to connect you to the Internet. Ross Barkman maintains a page (http://www.taniwha.org.uk) with updated modem scripts and information on Bluetooth mobile phones for use with Mac OS X.

1.4.2. Adding a Device

Mac OS X gives you a handy Bluetooth icon in the menubar. Click here to get a drop-down menu like the one shown in Figure 1-6. Choose "Set up Bluetooth Device…" to get started.

Figure 1-6. Bluetooth menubar

Make sure your mobile phone is turned on, you have Bluetooth enabled, and your phone is discoverable. You'll be prompted in a new window on your Mac to select a device type. Choose Mobile Phone, and click Continue. Mac OS X will search using Bluetooth to locate your phone, as shown in Figure 1-7.

Select your phone from the list, and click on Continue. Your Mac will now attempt to pair with your mobile phone. When this happens, an alert box on the Mac will give you a six-digit number that will also need to be entered on your mobile phone. This setup will vary from phone to phone, so consult your user's manual for directions. Once you've completed the pairing process, you'll be asked what services you want to use on your mobile phone, as shown in Figure 1-8.

Unless you plan on using your cell phone as an expensive but crappy analog modem, make sure you choose the last option on this screen: "Use a direct, higher speed connection to reach your Internet Service Provider."

1.4.3. Connection Setup

Now comes the fun part. There are hundreds of Bluetooth phones out there and many mobile providers, and each one is going to have a different setup. I'll present three different setups for larger U.S. providers. If you have a different provider, or live outside the United States, you'll want to either search online for details or contact your mobile provider for help.

Figure 1-7. Locating your Bluetooth phone

Figure 1-8. Bluetooth phone setup screen

Any connection setup is going to require a username, password, a CID string (also known as "APN" for GSM providers, and "phone number" for CDMA providers), and a modem script. Mac OS X ships with modem scripts for many popular mobile phone makers, but if you don't see your phone, check Ross Barkman's page.

Our example connection, shown in Figure 1-9, is for T-Mobile GPRS subscribers. Although the username and password are not used for this connection, you do need a specific APN string to enter in the CID field.

Figure 1-9. T-Mobile GPRS setup

Table 1-1 shows the usernames, passwords, and APN/phone numbers to use for popular U.S. carriers.

Table 1-1. Network settings for popular providers




APN/Telephone number

Cingular GPRS




Verizon 1xRTT











WAP users(wap.voicestream.com); Internet Unlimited (internet2.voicestream.com); Internet Unlimited users with VPN option (internet3.voicestream.com)


PCS Vision username

PCS Vision Password


Opera's site for GSM providers has an excellent list of APNs at http://www.opera.com/products/mobile/docs/connect/.

The last thing you'll need to do is make sure your Network settings are configured to use the new connection. Open System Preferences and click on Network. In the Network Port Configurations section, make sure your new phone connection is checked. Finally, click on the PPP tab and make sure the information you entered during Bluetooth setup is listed, as shown in Figure 1-10.

When selecting a modem type, pick the model that is closest to your phone. If you can't find an appropriate model, you could try a third-party phone script. There is a very good site full of scripts for various models of new phones (including 3G and GPRS) at http://www.taniwha.org.uk. Download the scripts for your phone, install them in /Library/Modem Scripts/, and then restart System Preferences.

Finally, you may want to consider enabling dial-on-demand for your Bluetooth connection. In Network Preferences, select the Bluetooth modem, click PPP Options, then check the first checkbox, "Connect automatically when needed." Then show your Network Port Configurations, and drag the Bluetooth line somewhere near the bottom. Your Mac will try each connection in order from top to bottom when connecting to the Internet. On my laptop, I list them from fastest to slowest: FireWire first, then Ethernet, Air-Port, Bluetooth, and finally Internal Modem.

Now, when you open any program that attempts to connect to the Internet, your Mac will automatically fall back to your Bluetooth phone when no other connection is available. Enjoy!

Figure 1-10. T-Mobile Network settings

Bluetooth, Mobile Phones, and GPS

Network Discovery and Monitoring

Wireless Security

Hardware Hacks

Software Hacks

Do-It-Yourself Antennas

Wireless Network Design

Appendix A. Wireless Standards

Appendix B. Wireless Hardware Guide

Wireless Hacks
Wireless Hacks: Tips & Tools for Building, Extending, and Securing Your Network
ISBN: 0596101449
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 178

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