A while back I blogged on using a variety of ways to use a tethered connection to provide internet connectivity. Recently with a relocation that I did, I ended up needing to work from only a tethered connection for several weeks. On my property, I have consistent internet speeds averaging 5-15 Mbps. My incorrect assumption was that that same speed would translate over to my laptop when it was tethered. When I tethered my laptop, it was connecting at less than 1 Mbps (generally about 300 Kbps). For a while, I assumed it had to be something on my side with how the tether was configured. However, after doing some research (and talking with my techo-savvy son) I came to realize that the issue was not with my phone, the tether, or the laptop – It was with the cell phone company.

It turns out that some of the cell phone companies take any tethered data and drop it to the bottom priority for the tower that is being communicated with. Hence, 300 Kbps versus 5-15 Mbps.

The workaround I found was a cell phone/tethering application called “PdaNet”. If you have this same situation, try downloading and installing PdaNet and configuring it with two settings on the phone: “Hide Tether Usage” and “USB Tether”. On the laptop side under settings choose the option to “Auto Connect on USB Plug-in”. This works like a champ and works around the cell phone company’s attempt to deprioritize tethered traffic.

Tip: If you run into a situation where PdaNet reports a “Network is busy” error, uninstall the application from your laptop, reboot your system and re-install the application.

Disclaimer: This approach may not be acceptable use per your cell phone provider. This article just provides a workaround that I ran into while dealing with this situation.

Summary: If you have fast internet on your cellphone but your tether is a fraction of the speed check out PdaNet.