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where internet makes your life easier © 2007 – 2012

the Mac

PCS Internet and the Mac:
Cellular Internet Connections and the Macintosh



STEP 1: The Physical Connection (so many cables!)
Getting the serial cable connected was the biggest problem with OS9 and mac flavored serial ports. This is a non-issue now as you use either blue tooth or a USB cable. The USB cables are great if they work and completely useless if they don’t. USB requires drivers. Most of the cables out there use the same interface chip in them, and some of these are natively supported by OSX now. No drivers required. To check if yours is plug it into the phone and into your computer and open the network control panel. If you’ve never opened it with it connected before you’ll get a popup telling you that a new port is available. If you see this then you’re half way there.
The name of the port will be different, this is actually a keyspan serial adaptor, but the idea is the same. If you don’t get the popup because you have already been here (it will only show that once) you can view the list of available ports and it would look something like this:
If the port is not listed after plugging in the phone you will either need to find drivers for that cable or get a new cable that is supported. There are drivers available from the manufacturers webpage for many cables for the Mac. But it may not be linked from the phone folks website. So finding out who the manufacturer of some of the rebranded cables can be difficult. If anyone has info on cables that work or don’t work or links to drivers please email that info to me so I can post it here.
More specific information on USB cables and getting them to work from your Mac can be found on John Chang’s website How To Use Your CDMA Cell Phone as a USB Modem on Mac OS X He also has specific info about the various services that I do not have here. This is an excellent site, reading recommended for all!
STEP 2: The Meta-Physical Connection (Configuring the Software)
Once you have a physical connection that everybody can recognize you’ll need to setup the Mac to use it. First think you’ll need to get a modem script. This outlines the conversation between the phone and the Mac while it’s making the connection. The very generic one I created still works. It appears that Sprint is no longer listing the file for download, (or at least nobody can find it anymore) so I will also make their file available for download here. This is the property of Spring and I’ll take it down if they have a problem with it. Remember that since they are not distributing it you can’t ask them to support it. If you cause them headaches with software that they don’t want to support anymore they will likely as to have it taken down.
• Generic Cellphone Modem Script (my genereic modem script)
• Generic Script with “optimal” init string (try this if the other doesn’t work)
• Official Sprint Modem Script (The script that Sprint used to distribute)
Download these and place them into your “/Library/Modem Scripts” folder. If you have the network control panel open when you add this they won’t show up till you quit and reopen it. Once you’ve done that you should be able to setup the modem as any other external modem something like this:
Make sure that you uncheck the “Wait for dial tone” checkbox as in the above screenshot or you won’t be able to connect. Cellphones don’t make a dial tone.
Make the rest of your modem setup as if you were connecting to your ISP via a regular modem. There are also direct dial numbers and passwords for most of these services that you can dial that will connect you directly without actually needing to connect to an ISP. These are different for the different services and you’ll need to get them out of the ISP’s windows setup instructions if you want to use them. Some are outlined in all the info below, but I don’t know if that info is still current or not.
There are some other things you might want to know though.
• There is no dialer software or other computer stuff that you need to install on your Mac. Other than the drivers for the cable and perhaps a modem script no other software is necessary.
• The higher speed stuff that they make as a windows program will not run on your Mac. The connection speed on a cell connection is pretty slow. They make software for windows that breaks some of the TCP rules to get better throughput. This results in a faster connection but no longer has the data integrity protections that are built into TCP. But if you’re just websurfing who cares if an image doesn’t load properly once in a while as long as it’s fast right?
• You cannot connect your regular built in modem to the audio portion of a cellphone. It simply wont work. Don’t try, don’t ask me about it. The answer is no.
• one last time. I don’t know anything about your particular model of phone or service. I can only tell you this, and if you email me directly I’ll still only be able to tell you this:

  • If it is available for the PC with that phone and service it will almost certainly be able to be made to work with your Mac.
  • you need a supported cable.
  • you need a modem script
  • then give it a try.

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