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Connect to the Web with CDMA and Mac OS X

written by: •edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 12/13/2010

Despite the age of the technology it is possible to connect your MacBook to the web with a CDMA phone.

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    What is CDMA and How Can I Use It to Get Online?

    CDMA - Mac OS X connection tips Using a phone as a modem has long been a popular means of accessing the internet remotely. You might be in a hotel or sitting down for a latte, and tethering your mobile phone to your Mac OS X is a simple way to get online without bothering with the hassle of setting up an account with Starbucks.

    Most popular among Mac users is tethering with an iPhone, although it is fair to say that not all MacBook owners have an iPhone - so what alternatives are there?

    CDMA is a radio communication technology used in certain types of phone. By connecting such a device to a Mac OS X powered MacBook, with the right tools you can get online. You should note, however, that CDMA phones will not offer the same mobile internet speeds as modern mobile devices.

    With the right equipment – a cable and a bit of software – you should be able to attain a connection good enough to send and receive emails and perhaps access low bandwidth web pages.

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    Mac OS X and CDMA Tools

    Before getting started, you will need a set of Mac OS X and CDMA "tools" to achieve the best results.

    Rather than purchasing an expensive data kit from your carrier you should instead purchase a suitable USB data cable specific to your CDMA phone.

    This may or may not be easy to find – few networks and retailers sell CDMA phones as they have been effectively superseded by more modern devices, but you should get lucky on mobile phone supplies websites or even eBay. Those that do will have locked the devices to their networks, which means you will need to find out passwords and access point names to get online with these phones (see Further Reading below).

    Some CDMA phones are supported natively under Mac OS X without any additional software – however this isn’t true across the board so as a precaution download and install the AppleUSBCDCDriver Patch if you are using an older version of OS X (10.1-10.4).

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    Creating a Network Connection with a CDMA Cell Phone on Mac OS X

    Mac OS X CDMA tools are required to achieve a connection The next step is to connect your phone to your computer using the USB data cable. Go to System Preferences > Network where you should be informed of a new port, with the name of your phone.

    Success at this stage then requires a modem script for your device. This can be found via the Macs & Cell Phones Yahoo! group – once you have the script, save it in /Library/Modem Scripts on your Mac. Return to System Preferences > Network and select your phone from the list of network ports. On the Modem tab select the script you have just saved and then on the PPP tab enter the information specific to your mobile network (see below).

    With all of this installed and setup, however, you might find that there is still no internet connection. If this is the case then you will need to find the correct settings for your particular CDMA cell phone.

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    Further Reading

    There is much more to getting a CDMA modem connection on Mac OS X – different devices have different setups and what you see above is a generalised summary to get you started.

    In order to find the relevant settings for your particular device you should visit the Macs & Cell Phones Yahoo! group where information on suitable cell phone models and the means to use them as a modem can be found. This includes information on CDMA and modern devices so you should be able to find the individual settings to configure your own device as a modem.

    (Images from