03 Aug 2008

BlackBerry to Macintosh Tethering

This is just a quick breakdown, as far as I’ve been able to determine, of which models will allow you to access the ‘net through them, and which are too braindead/broken/Windows-centric. (This is not necessarily an exhaustive list, and is not guaranteed to be correct! Be sure to do your own research before purchasing or signing a contract.)

Options to consider:

Reported to work; source is Tom Yager of Enterprise Mac. The discussion forum on Fibble.org also has some instructions. This seems to be the starting point for most of the 88xx variants.

Reported to work by BlackBerryForums member “CatherineLW”, via Bluetooth only.

Reported to work via Bluetooth, not via USB. Follow-up article here. It’s also described as working (in “exactly 2 minutes”) in this article.

Reported to work. Page includes links to required modem script and information on init strings. In the comments there are intermittent problems reported, so it’s apparently not a foolproof solution.

All information seems to relate to Bluetooth tethering; there’s no mention of success (and lots of failures) trying to tether via USB. Apparently USB tethering is, for some reason, only possible from Windows.

The 8320 is a special version of the 8300 made for T-Mobile; it includes some additional features including 802.11a/b/g UMA calling.

There are some scattered reports indicating that it works, and some others saying that it doesn’t. It seems like it ought to work; problems may relate to bad software revisions.

Reported as working by Dave Taylor of AskDaveTaylor.com, and Grant Goodale of Fibble.org.

However there are serious issues with particular software revisions. Software version in particular, which was pushed out to T-Mobile phones, is known to have issues.

Options to avoid:

For some reason, normal Bluetooth DUN methods don’t work with the 8700 series, which is unfortunate because it’s relatively inexpensive and in all other respects a nice phone (particularly the ‘G’ revision).

There’s a whole saga of efforts, including a substantial ‘bounty’, put towards getting this thing working as a USB or Bluetooth-tethered connection, but there doesn’t seem to be a very satisfactory solution. The closest anyone seems to have gotten is a $50 software package called “Pulse” which allows tethering via a proxy server that you must run (or pay for the use of), through which all traffic flows. Although I appreciate the effort involved, this doesn’t strike me as particularly elegant – frankly it’s unacceptable that it’s even necessary. Anything that requires that much of a workaround to use is broken.

The bottom line:

It’s not really much of a surprise that RIM doesn’t seem to focus very heavily on anything except Windows, given their established userbase in the corporate market, but it’s still a bit disappointing. The best BB device for Mac users at the current time seems to be one of the 8800 series, either the 8800 itself (currently retailing for $280) or the 8820/30 variants depending on whether you want GSM or CDMA service within the US. Either the Curve or the Pearl would seem to be a close second; I only give the 8800 an edge because it’s newer, and will probably be getting more attention for longer than either of the older models.

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