back to article Dongles pricey and pointless, says Bluetooth SIG

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group reckons you can save 40 per cent on your phone bill by ditching your 3G dongle and using a Bluetooth connection instead. That figure is based on the cost of setting up a separate mobile contract for a 3G dongle, compared to adding a decent data allocation to one's existing mobile account, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The Bluetooth Special Interest Group"

    Would recommend this approach over the faster and easier to use Jokuspot app available on most decent phones.

  2. Bob H
    Paris Hilton

    Orange 3G coverage

    Now, if only Orange could get their act together and actually give some coverage with their 3G network that is better than a 15 year old modem....

    Tethering on my HTC WM6.5 mobile works (when I use the USB cable) but Orange coverage sucks just about everywhere.

    Why are Orange advertising so much about their 3G network when it doesn't ****ing work?!

    Paris, because she has similar coverage.

  3. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Unless your provider does not allow "tethering."

    I do not know why, but I abhor that term. Anyway, many providers in the US, like Sprint, do not allow tethering on certain handsets, disabling the ability altogether, while some, like AT&T, charge stupid amounts for the privilege of using an inherent capability. (I have found that not all providers allow simultaneous data and voice usage from the same handset, which could be a hindrance to many users.)

    Of course, you can get around the tethering restriction with tools like PDAnet, which is currently available for just about every platform, or with an unlocked phone. I use my unlocked Sony Ericsson over Bluetooth and achieve upwards of 2Mb/s on a clean connection without the need for a $70/month PDA plan (realistically, I only use it for the same things I use the phone for directly: RDP and email.)

    Bluetooth SIG has a tough row to hoe in this case, in that it will be going up directly against providers' revenue, a tough battleground indeed. I wish them all the best.

    Paris, a tough hoe to row.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speeds (more like, slows)

    Also, the Bluetooth caps the transfer speed, theoretically with Bluetooth 2.0 at 3,1 Mbps, but in practice I have observed various implementation specific values in the range of 700 kbps to 1400 kbps...

    When you got HSPA 7.2 network around, you want to go as fast as you can.

  5. Fat Freddie's Cat

    What a load of tosh...'ll never catch on.

    (Sent from an iPod touch using a Nokia E71 with Joikuspot for a portable WiFi hotspot)

  6. Tim Croydon

    What will the operators say though?

    Don't most operators bitch about using your phone as a modem, even though it's easily technically possible?

    Perhaps Bluetooth SIG should get the operators to behave fairly.

    I always turn Bluetooth off on my phone as it saps the battery for not much benefit for me.

  7. OffBeatMammal

    Bluetooth doing a poor job selling itself

    I'm glad they are telling more folks how to do this - of course, if they have a fruit phone in the US then AT&T still won't let users tether.

    I've been using the Windows Mobile "Internet Sharing" feature to do this with bluetooth and via USB when the battery is low and never understood people who carried an extra dongle.

    Of course the BT SIG site was a total fail as I couldn't find instructions for any of the three phones in the house (Dash 3G, SE TM506 and a Shadow) ... maybe it's EU heavy for devices at the moment?

    Problem is though ... despite their hype BT isn't as ubiquitous in laptops as they'd like you to think. HP, for instance, with their new shiny multi-touch tablet (tx2) still equip it with a modem (has anyone even got a landline any more?!) but in 9 out of 10 SKUs no BT (and seems to be no way to swap the WiFi card for a WiFi+BT card afterwards)... so you end up with a costly, easy to lose, easy to break BT dongle instead!

  8. Fred 24
    Thumb Up

    So True!

    Skype phone internet addon on 3 for the month is a mere £5 and I've been using it as my main internet connection for the last 2 years with no problems. Since the usb driver is not available for Ubuntu, the bluetooth dialup scripts took 5 minutes to locate using google-fu, and around 3 minutes to copy to /etc/peers and configure. Compared to £38 a month I used to pay for orange broad band, the saving is massive - an no more ' we dont support Linux' arguments when orange failed.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Phone providers' view

    Three (at least) explicitly say that the data bundled with their contracts is not for use with a PC, but only with the phone - unless they've changed their minds recently. I'm not sure if they have any way of knowing...


      virgin mobile

      I recently updated my sim only contract with virgin mobile to include net usage (extra £3 a monthe for 1 GB). The first person i spoke to said any laptop usage would be charged at an astonishing £5 per MB! I requested a callback from someone on the technical team.

      When the guy called me back he said that there was no technical difference between data transfered over the network to a phone or data transfered over the network to a phone and then to a laptop. As long as you stay within the limit no extra charges.

  10. Annihilator
    Thumb Down


    You have an iPhone and get screwed by O2 for a "tethering" charge.

    In all other instances, I agree - have used a multitude of phones tethered over bluetooth.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    clearly not aimed at UKers

    ..who get charged more to add tethering to their existing account than to add a PAYG dongle. It's ludicrous.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    You can in a civilised country, not in the UK

    In the UK the major mobile players make a very clear distinction in their AUPs between usage from phone and phone as modem. In fact there is no broadband-like data add-on which allows computer usage on at least O2 and Vodafone. I would be surprised if T-Orange has it either.

    So the BT people should probably make it clear that the advice applies to civilised countries with sane pricing policies like Bulgaria which do _NOT_ make that difference and where a 1G/1 Month data add-on usable any f*** way you like costs under 10 quid and a 1G contract data add on to a phone last time I looked at it was under 7.

    So nice try, can they explain this to the retarded cretins in Voda and O2 marketing first please? Pretty Please?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Depends what plan you are on....

      I got a Blackberry Bold 9700 from Voda this morning, with a nice little leaflet enclosed about 'The internet on your PC, via your Blackberry smartphone'. Says to me they are starting to consider this as an option at least for business......

      Pint, because I need one after working with (l)users who break berries all day!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      I have been using my Windows Mobile PDAs as a modem on O2 for over five years. It works just fine and uses the same data settings as internet on the PDA, the data is downloaded as if it is for the PDA, then the PDA forwards it by USB cable, Bluetooth or P2P WiFi. O2 can not tell what the data is being used by, as at their end it all looks the same.

      Due to an O2 cock-up, I don't get billed for UK data (I never have and I use over 8 GB a month) so I am staying hidden on this one......

    3. Mr Pedantic

      T-Mobile, "tethering", and batteries

      T-Mobile offer "Web'n'Walk Plus" for an additional £5 a month, and that allows using the handset as a modem (i.e. "thethering") and up to 3GB fair usage. Over that amount, they restrict your connections to http requests only at peak times.

      The downside is that the latency is horrible. I don't know if other 3G networks are the same. Comparing 3G "broadband" with real broadband, it can sometimes take several seconds for a page to start loading, and sometimes for each element on the page.

      Incidentally, I'm using a USB connection, even though I have a bluetooth modem profile set up. I just find that it feels that bit quicker.

      As noted in the article, the worst side to using a handset as a modem is the drain on the battery. I find I have to keep my N95 on charge the whole time I use it as a modem, otherwise the battery goes after a disappointingly short time. What made Nokia choose not to use USB to charge the handset anyway?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Paris Hilton


        My Nokia 6300 classic (a svelte little candybar affair) tethers just fine via Bluetooth or USB, and charges via wall wart or USB.

        (Actually, it's a nice little phone, does what it says on the tin)

  13. David Gosnell

    For casual use

    For casual use it's still hard to beat Vodafone's PAYG 3G dongles - 1.5p per megabyte, and that's that, pretty much. No top-up expiry, so long as you log on every few months. Don't think any handset contracts are going to beat that with tethered data.

  14. Brett Brennan 1

    Of course, your phone must support tether...

    ...unlike the one I currently have. But BT + phone is a great way to kill time in meetings!

  15. alphaxion

    tarded carriers

    aye, never understood why they bitch about using the data via a PC even tho you're making pretty much the same usage patterns with the iphone anyway.

    Never had this problem with GPRS and nokia's 5 or 6 years ago. They didn't bother with distinction on usage, it was just that... usage.

  16. Jad

    Have you ever received a call while using bluetooth for the internet?

    If you have you'll realise why you have a separate line for internet communication.

    There have been too many hours of my life lost that way!

    1. Fred 24


      The internet connection drops down to 2.5 kps, but the call quality remains just as clear.

  17. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    I think Three also offer...

    ...a wi-fi wireless dongle. That is, a wi-fi hub with a 3G connection. About £60 I think. But I got my USB dongle free with contract.

    A Three phone ad in today's Metro (Scottish, page 24) says "Internet Max phone browsing only fair use policy applies (1GB)". A determined phone user (or a Three dongle customer) can get through more than that. The ad does also mention that the "Skypephone S2 doubles as a USB modem", which sounds like having cake and not being allowed to eat it, but probably it's an exception.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      3G Wifi hub

      I've got one of those 3G wifi hubs from Three and it's been great. I don't use a 3D dongle at all now. It means I can use a variety of devices with it which don't work with a USB dongle (e.g. my PSP). I can also separate the dongle from my computer, so I can have the 3G dongle upstairs where I get good reception and my laptop downstairs where I can't get a reliable 3G signal.

  18. _Ewan_

    Supported by Vodafone

    --- In fact there is no broadband-like data add-on which allows computer usage on at least O2 and Vodafone ---

    Of course, that's not a fact. Vodafone call their's 'Mobile Broadband via the Phone' and the deals are similar to the dedicated dongle ones; i.e. two levels at 3Gb/month and 5Gb/month.

  19. Neil Hoskins

    But this one goes up to eleven...

    I've had this conversation many times. Unfortunately Joe (and Josephine) Public can't get their heads around it.

    "I've got a dongle to get online with my laptop."


    "So I can get online with my laptop."

    "Why not just use a bluetooth connection to your mobile phone?"

    "But this lets me get online."

    "But you could do the same thing with a bluetooth connection to your mobile phone."

    "But this is a dongle, and it lets me get my laptop online."



    1. Daniel B.

      At least...

      you didn't get someone like my mom. She bought the "wireless DSL" package (which means they supply you with a DSL router with WiFi) and called me a week later asking why she couldn't get online from my grandparents' home. Somehow she thought that the "wireless" part meant "city-wide coverage". Sheesh!

  20. Rob


    Can't see what all the fuss is about, I've been 'tethering' my phone to my PC for a data connection for years and have never been denied or had to pay more.

    T-Mob's Web'n'Walk Package comes in 2 flavours, apparently the top package allwso for tethering (although I never encountered any problems using the lower tariff when I was on it). Before T-Mob I was on O2, worked fine, before that Orange, worked fine.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      The "fuss" is because if you don't pay the tethering charge and tether, the operator can (and sometimes does) cancel your contact for tethering. Also, they tend to block ports other than http often, so if you are more than just a facebook drooler, and need ssh or similar, you're often SOL.

      What's more, even the non-technical types who want to use the "turbo" mode in Opera will be stuffed, as that wants to make a direct socket connection to Opera's proxies, which they often block.

      1. Rob

        Missed it

        My point was that I never had to pay a tethering charge, unless you include my upgrade for the Web'n'Walk Pro tariff but I only did that for the greater monthly useage cap.

        My other point was I never came across any issues until I started using T-Mobile, but once I removed the proxy server settings it was back to normal service.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Prefer dongle

    used to use phone modem either via bluetooth or infra red for years but just switched to a voda payg dongle.

    I'm a really occasional user of 3g on my laptop but I like having access to a different network's 3g as they all have patchy coverage or tendency to collapse under pressure. My o2 iphone wants me to pay a monthly fee for tethering and using it as a bluetooth modem is just going to drain the battery which is the last thing I want when I'm out and about.

  22. Jason Togneri

    Low mobile phone battery preventing a connection?

    "That's assuming your phone is charged well enough for a few hours' Bluetooth and 3G - otherwise you might want to stick with the dongle no matter what the Bluetooth SIG is saying."

    You overlook the obvious:

    Yes yes it requires carrying around an extra cable and having "something sticking out the side of your PC", but it's less redundant than a dongle and comes in handy at other times, too. Plus it's friggin' tiny.

  23. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    ...Not here in the states.

    Well, this doesn't apply here in the states. Verizon Wireless charges $60 a month for a aircard (or dongle) plan. On-phone data is $15, but they ad on $45 to allow tethering. Smart phone? $30 data plan, and they add on $30 to allow tethering. Yes, that adds up to $60 no matter what. I'm grandfathered in with unlimited, otherwise that's for 5GB.

    "Why are Orange advertising so much about their 3G network when it doesn't ****ing work?!"

    *shrug*, T-Mobile here in the US is advertising a "nationwide 3G network", while they have 3G over *MAYBE* 5% of their network, and have a smaller network than the other national cell cos too.

  24. Matt 13

    to bt, or not to BT??

    I used to use my winmo (i see a common theme here!) as a BT or usb modem on my orange contract, but now i have my iphone, I get charged double for that honour! data should be data, no matter how you use it... I guess the idea is, on the phone you wil get bored a lot quicker surfing than you would on a real pc/laptop, so to discourage that use...

    I now use a voda dongle, which since june I have managed to run up the huge costs of £16 of surfing!!! thank ou voda for your non expiring topups!! :)

    but back on BT - its all very good, but you dont half get a castrated transfer speed!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    im with vodaphone in the uk,

    im with voda in the uk, and have been known to "tether " (on the 1 occasion i absolutely needed the internet and my home connection was down (uni deadline - sometime last year))

    no problem connecting, didnt have any tethering charges, the issue was the awful coverage.

    On my supposed 3G phone, it was the internet circa 1997.

  26. Glyn


    If you use your handset as a modem for 3G data you may as well use your ass as a convenient holder for it as that's what it'll feel like when you get your bill compared to a dongle data plan...

    Who said it was fair?

    1. Fred 24


      Like I said £5 for a month on 3, and thats payg, so there is no bill!

  27. \\\

    Tethering ok on T Mob

    According to this post......

  28. Bod

    Contracts? No need

    Got a PAYG Vodafone 3G dongle and the PAYG rate is £15 for 1GB.

    I've used about 50meg so far over half a year, and the thing doesn't expire if you don't use it.

    Tethered I'd need to pay a fortune on a monthly contract to get a decent data package that both allows it and doesn't cost a fortune (my current Orange rate is £2 per meg!).

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