Will RIM Ever Add Wi-Fi Tethering? Can Developers?

CTR350_BB8830A friend dropped by and asked me yesterday if there was a way to utilize Wi-Fi tethering with his BlackBerry 9650. In case you don’t know what that means Wi-Fi tethering means you can use your device as a 3G wireless mobile access point kind of like a MiFi access point. That would be idea because then you could go online with your Nintendo DS, iPod Touch, and any other device that has Wi-Fi over your BlackBerry data connection. Palm has had this feature in their latest WebOS devices and Google is adding it in the Android 2.2 release.

I did a bit of research on the issue and it looks like BlackBerry tethering is currently limited to USB and Bluetooth tethering. While many people are asking about Wi-Fi tethering I am curious if RIM plans on adding such a feature in OS 6. RIM has not made any mention of it and I think we would have heard of it from all the leaks. Still it would be a killer feature for RIM to add since it looks like that is the way the industry is moving.

The idea got me thinking about if developers could currently create such an app for current BlackBerry devices. I am sure companies like PDAnet and Tether could make a killing if they developed such a feature but I am not sure if it is possible.

What do you think? Would you want to be able to tether any device to your BlackBerry over Wi-Fi?

PS: Yes I do know that Cradlepoint has a device (pictured above) that lets you use your BlackBerry to connect other devices to the internet but having to lug around another device is in no way ideal…

12 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I’m pretty sure the API doesn’t expose the level of control necessary to actually make the Wi-Fi interface run in an access-point-like mode, so its probably not even possible for 3rd party apps to do without RIM’s blessing and support.

  2. It wouldn’t necessarily have to run in AP mode. It could be an adhoc connection or even the PC could act as the AP and then transfer the data requests through the app just like tether and pdanet…
    Though I am no dev…

    • Funny thing you just mentioned it…
      I bought this very inexpensive WiFi card off of Newegg and I set it to Access point. Guess what? it worked like a charm.
      Now, my Wii can finally use the internet, along with my computer (tethered) and my phone as well (Data and voice)
      It needs some work but it’s a piece of cake…

  3. As carriers move away from “unlimited” data on smartphone plans, I see no way they would allow it what with how many BlackBerry are out there. I suspect its only a matter of time before there is a crackdown on tether and like (which violate the terms of your carrier contract).

    • Agreed. There won’t be any such thing as unlimited data.. I’d be concerned about using my BB in this way.. Especially if you live in Canada or another country with draconian telcos..

  4. actually the reason why its not possible and why it hasnt been included is because the hardware (the wifi chip) physically cannot do it… that is what i have been told and learnt is that its a hardware limitation at this point not API or software….

  5. I do believe its software ny hardware. Even my 7yr old laptop with wifi built it, is able to act as a wifi router. Of cuz, with the neccessary s/ware and configs.

  6. It’s kind of strange. It seems like a logical feature to include in a business device.
    My WinMo device does it (HTC) and I find it fantastic.

    I run a fleet of blackberries and often on tours staff need internet access. Being able to turn one of them into a WiFi hotspot would be so convenient.

  7. you obviously didnt understand i mean… i’m not saying the hardware is to old to not be able to do it… i’m saying its not designed to… it just simply cannot broadcast a wifi signal out to other devices to pick up… it can only receive and send small packets of data… make sense?

    • That doesn’t make sense. All Wifi chips are transceivers, meaning they can transmit and receive data. Software is what determines the mode that transceiver operates in, client or AP. It’s not like USB where client/host functionality is hardwired.

      I think the earlier commenter had it right: that the APIs RIM allows developers access to don’t allow for this type of customization.

      Anyway, I’ve been clamoring for this feature for months. It’s terrible that Blackberry is the only modern smartphone platform that can’t do this yet. I’ve been a MiFi owner for 9 months or so, and it has become one of the most relied upon devices I own. I’d love to ditch the extra device and the extra bill.

  8. While I have not tried it myself: Wi-Fi Proxy should fit this bill:

    http://www.mobihand.com/product.asp?id=50510&n=Wi-Fi-Proxy-%2BFTP%2FHTTP-Servers

  9. RIM doesn’t think it’s important enough to equip newer devices with a different chip then?

    And no, I’m not really keen on paying extra for this feature (buying an app to get around it). As mentioned it’s a great included feature of other devices.

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