Internet Tethering on the BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet via Bluetooth

Internet Tethering on the BlackBerry PlayBook via Bluetooth
By Kevin Michaluk on 31 Mar 2011 09:49 am EDT

BlackBerry PlayBook 101: How to tether your BlackBerry PlayBook to a mobile device that has a tethering plan (does not have to be a BlackBerrry Smartphone!)

Without having the 4G version of the BlackBerry PlayBook at launch (and if iPad stats prove true for the PlayBook the majority will opt for WiFi-only versions anyway), most users will be looking for a way to connect to the internet when away from WiFi. For that, you simply need to connect your mobile device to the PlayBook tablet via Bluetooth. I've noticed a bit of a misconception going around that people think it has to be a BlackBerry Smartphone you tether to, but as RIM has relayed to us the whole time that is not the case.

Remember, the BlackBerry Bridge, which allows you to get your BlackBerry Smartphone's email, calendar, contacts, etc. on your PlayBook (it turns your PlayBook into a big monitor for your BB phone) is different than Internet Tethering. The device you are tethering to does need to support tethering (you'll need to confirm with your plan/carrier if there will be tethering chargers, etc.), but again, it doesn't need to be a BlackBerry. The process for setting up tethering is pretty simple, but so you don't get lost along the way we have a quick tutorial to help you get it done.

Connecting to the internet via Bluetooth on the BlackBerry PlayBook

Before you begin you'll need to verify the following:

  • The wireless service plan of the device must support tethering.
  • The device must be compatible with Bluetooth technology. To find out what Bluetooth profiles the device uses, see the information that came with the device.
  • Bluetooth DUN must be enabled. If this IT policy is not available, check with the service provider or administrator.

1. Enable Bluetooh

Before you get started, make sure Bluetooth is enabled on both the phone and tablet. To activate Bluetooth on the PlayBook:

Tap the settings icon on the status bar

Internet Tethering on the BlackBerry PlayBook via Bluetooth

Then choose Internet Tethering

Internet Tethering on the BlackBerry PlayBook via Bluetooth

Tap Turn On


2. Connect to your BlackBerry smartphone

Tap the settings icon on the status bar, then again selected Internet Tethering

Internet Tethering on the BlackBerry PlayBook via Bluetooth

Your paired device should now be listed, tap it to connect

Internet Tethering on the BlackBerry PlayBook via Bluetooth

In the drop-down list, tap a service provider or tap Add and add a service provider to the list. 

Internet Tethering on the BlackBerry PlayBook via Bluetooth

Tap the service provider and choose Connect.

If you add a service provider you are prompted to create a custom profile. Enter the APN, user name, and password that your wireless service provider has given you and tap Connect

Internet Tethering on the BlackBerry PlayBook via Bluetooth

That's it! You should be up and running and successfully able to connect to the internet through your smartphone. Keep in mind that some carriers may charge a fee for this, so you'll want to check in with them so you don't get any surprises on your bill!

Be sure to check out all of our BlackBerry PlayBook 101 articles to help get you up and running.

Reader comments

Internet Tethering on the BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet via Bluetooth


tether (the app) will hopefully come out with and app for this. Monthly fees for tethering is for the birds

That's what I'm hoping for. I don't have tethering in my plan, but I do have the Tether app which rarely gets any use outside of when I'm in dial-up country at my parents' every few months.

Kevin, I hope your constant efforts at reeducating the misinformed about the PlayBook are successful. Now lets wait for the inevitable, the bashers and basement dwellers to come out of the woodwork and say that RIM doesn't know what they are doing, that internet tethering is a bad thing, and that you'll need a BlackBerry to use the PlayBook.

Reading is fun!

"The device you are tethering to does need to support tethering (you'll need to confirm with your plan/carrier if there will be tethering chargers, etc.), but again, it doesn't need to be a BlackBerry."

Yes with AT&T. I have been with ATT for some time i have an unlimited internet plan which they no longer offer. If i sign up for the tethering for my playbook i loose the option of my unlimited and have to go back to buying MB.It's not Blackberry it's the providers that are doing this. I had a similar experience with the Sampson pad ATT just messed it up with lockouts to the technology.

So the question would be, can I keep both the Blackberry Bridge and the Bluetooth tethering up at the same time to the same phone? When I use a tablet I keep switching between browser, email, IM, etc... IMHO that would be a pretty common use-case for BES users out and about...

No to sound dumb, but what is a APN and where do I obtain it?

Is the user name and password the same one used for e-mail deom my ISP?

The APN, user name, and password are dependent on your carrier. Search for APN settings for your particular carrier on the internet, you should be able to locate the correct settings. You could also just call your carrier for this info.

Let me try to break it down- If you have a Blackberry smartphone WITH a data plan, learn how to Bridge your Playbook to it and you will get data access for NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE-don't even mess with tethering.
If you can't BRIDGE your Blackberry, or you have another smartphone, it must be TETHER-ENABLED to tether to the Playbook. If it is a carrier-approved tethering app, either native or third-party, then the APN settings should be available through the carrier, on the web, or in the documentation that came with the phone plan. Some carriers offer this service for free with a current data plan(very few). Most charge for the service, so if they offer it and you currently don't have it, you have to turn it on and probably pay for it. If you are using a non-carrier approved jailbroken/homebrew third-party app to tether already, then the carrier's APN settings may not work on the Playbook, which has been my experience so far. Has anyone had a different experience?

More than one question:

1. Can I use APN As I can see at screenshot - there is a BIS-B APN used. So, what data plan used on that connection?

2. There is a "Intranet" option available in BB Bridge. So, that means - i can use MDS services using BES/BESX? But what about internet?

3. Can BB Bridge and Internet Tethering works together?

This is great now send this to the fools at engadget who have been drinking nothing but haterade for RIM and Been spreading that you need a BB to tehter, inform the ignorant commenters there

Having needed to tether my laptop to my BlackBerry for an emergency once, when I didn't have my physical cord connecting the two - I was happy my laptop had bluetooth. However, I noticed a serious bottleneck on internet speed while tethered via bluetooth when compared to being tethered via MicroUSB cable.

Looking at the above screen shots, I'm slightly worried that it may not support a Corded connection tether (though maybe the options will change if it detects a corded compatible connection?).

I'm still buying my PlayBook either way, though. I'm around WiFi 95% of my day.

So it's tethering & the bridge is totally different. I've asked before & people treated me like I was stupid when I asked. Their responses were along the lines of "of course you'll be able to use your berry to surf the web" well yeah but you'll also run the risk of tethering charges if you're not careful. Most people were telling me that you'd be able to surf the web thru the bridge, thanks Kevin for clearing this up, I'm definitely going to think harder about getting the Playbook now, it might seem like no big deal for some people but it is for this guy.

This is awesome, need to find out if verizon will be charging, im sure they will.

PS. Thanks for the timer!

Except now that AT&T will be assimilating T-Mo, free tethering will be a thing of the past...

Response from Tether when I asked about Tether (the app) being available on the Blackberry Playbook:

"Tether currently does not support the BlackBerry Playbook.

Tether is looking into supporting the BlackBerry Playbook once it has been released.

AT&T likely charges additionally for tethering, so if that's the case...NO THANKS. They charge me to death for all things BLACKBERRY now as it is. About to get a "dumbphone" and hang up on all the extras.

Tired of paying thru the nose!! :'-(

Just to be cruel, I paid 300 pounds (around 500 dollars) for my Torch and now pay 10 pounds (about 14 dollars) a month for unlimited texts, 300 minutes, and 500 MB BIS (with BBM etc) on T-mobile. God save the queen?

anyone know what US Cellulars policy is. I tether my laptop to by BlackBerry via cable and don't seem to incur charges.

I'm wondering too. US Cellular is small enough and behind the times so much that they may not even notice you tethering a device to your connection. I have an unlimited data plan with my Blackberry Tour, so I'm hoping this is the case.

I thought that I was going to be able to use my existing data plan on my BB (which does not have tether) to access the internet. If I have to purchase a tether plan this will be a deal breaker.

Do I need a tether plan for internet if I am using a BB phone in bridge mode?

I agree, it was the biggest selling point for me (next to having flash). If there is no way to tether without a plan, then they just lost me. Verizon will not get one cent more than I'm already paying.

It's no different than any other tablet. If you want to tether to your phone's data plan, you'll have to pay the carrier.

I do hope that tether will adapt their app to work with the playbook. I use that app alot already so it won't be much difference in my data usage since I will most likely just not use the laptop/netbook as much and instead use the playbook.

If I had to guess, if you tether to use the internet send some emails etc you won't see charges. If you download and basically use it as a subsitute for having internet completely, your use will raise a flag. Having said that, if the playbook really takes off and everyone is tethering it may cause your provider to charge you. But in my opinion that would take IPad like sales with everyone tethering. And that's not likely. So I think we're good.

You guys know that you don't actually need Tether to tether, right? All you really need are the APN settings.

You can surf the web using existing data plan of your smartphone via Bluetooth without additional charges.

You can connect card reader to micro USB port of playbook, The playbook will detect it as an additional drive,

Stop spreading misinformation or cite your source. It is up to the carrier's discretion whether to charge for tethering and whilst RIM was looking into making the Playbook a USB host they haven't announced anything official yet.

This is the biggest fail so far. I was so excited for the playbook because when I was out of town I could simply connect my BlackBerry phone to the playbook and use the phones data plan for internet. This was how it has always been stated on this website and the sole reason I stuck with a BlackBerry and not a Google or iPhone. I do not want to pay Verizon extra to charge my for tethering, that is just plain stupid! I have a lot of people waiting for my opinion on whether to buy this or not and my answer now is "no" don't buy. Atleast do not buy until a company like tether makes the app that crackberry had told us would be a given from the start, so disappointed!

Okay then, idiot. Don't buy it. Be the only fool out there without a professional tablet. You were stupid to sign up with Verizon in the first place. IT's the most expensive wireless phone service in the world.

Or you can start using your head for more than just fartspace. Bridge your Blackberry to the Playbook and use the Playbook to operate all your BB's PIM apps: BBM, Browser, Calendar, BB Weather, etc. and keep the bridge always on. There won't be any additional internet or tethering charges. Use the wifi on the Playbook to download and load additional apps. Just skip the tethering so you won't incur charges.

Will I be able to do this on BB phones with OS below 5 (I have OS 4.5 now)? The PlayBook spec sheet says that "BlackBerry PlayBook can pair with BlackBerry smartphones running BlackBerry® Device Software v5 or higher." Or is it this only for accessing mail/calendar?

Wow now I will also have a SLOW PLaybook! My ATT internet 3G is so slow, I wouldnt even think about connecting a playbook to it.

so don't connect it! Don't even bother buying a 3g Playbook if you're going to stay with ATT! Just get the Playbook wifi version and use it as a wifi device! Duh! what the heck is wrong with you??

my bell 3g connection is really fast...on average i'm getting about 6mbps download and 3.5mbps upload

with that i'd rather tether with my android device wirelessly

so i'm hoping it does support wireless ad hoc

finally, some vindication that the playbook doesn't have to rely on a blackberry smartphone to tether! Depending on whether your carrier allows tethering on your phone (even better if they don't charge you extra for the quota you've paid for). Here's hoping tethering on a bb won't incur a tethering fee...

BIS is always a good thing to have - no worries with going over your quota unless you plan on watching youtube videos on your extra data cap ;)

i dont need a selling point to buy a PB. the way i see it, this might be RIM only tablet for awhile. I dont think they will turn into money grabbing apple and try to change a feature here and there and release one every 8-12 months. Thats why this tablet packs a big punch, everything you need NOW in one big shot. Ipad probably would have thethring to the internet with iphones by now or from the start, but they wanna see how many idiots will by short hand crap before they add anything...


Ok so i hope this isnt a dumb question but i dont care. my thoughts were that in order to tether we needed to buy the tether app first.

so if we can tether without buying a tethering app what is the difference if you have the app or not?

The difference is that some people can't seem to move forward in life unless it includes doing it with an app. Tether makes a tethering app. I say, BFD! It's a waste of time. I already tether my BB phone to my laptop when not in a wifi area. I don't need to use a stupid app to do it. That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.

So no, you don't need to buy a tether app to tether your BB phone to the Playbook. But if you have a dumbphone rather than a smartphone with tethering built in, it looks like you will have to get an app. But if that's the case, then you probably aren't qualified to have a tablet anyway.

The people to be pissed is your cellular provider.

From a pure technical perspective, the PB can tether through your BT smartphone, plain and simple. Its there, its what they said it would do, so there's no negative to be aimed at RIM or PlayBook for how this will actually pan out for individual people. The reality is, the cellular providers are in the business to make money, and they want to make as much as they can while offering as little as possible, so they will upcharge you for anything they can unless market forces determine otherwise.

Being pissed at PlayBook for Verizon charging you to tether is like being pissed at Apple because Verizon charge for data usage on your iPhone.

My Rogers BB used to do tethering at no extra charge (no Tether app required, just needed the APN), now they have clamped down on it and offer free tethering only if you have a 1GB plan or higher (or in other words, they block it if your plan is less than 1GB). Eventually, an app like Tether will stop working as other providers will block it, at a minimum you are violating your carrier's terms of service by using it. If you are not happy about any of this, buy a PB anyway and change your carrier to one with a plan you like.

i should be good to go.. im with rogers with a 6gb plan so I should have no tethering fees. this is what i was told from a rogers rep and this is what I've been hearing over the forums

dont most rogers and or canadian BB user have only 500mb. I just increased my the other day to 1GB so i can tehter. It would have costed me a extra 30bucks so i called again the next day and got it for 5bucks.

I'm with Telus and when I got my Torch, they had a data plan special that if you buy 1GB, they gave 5GB for free. Made sure I got that since I knew I was going to get a Playbook. So with 6GB, I'm good to go since tethering is included.

Not sure if this has been covered but, I bought the Tether app on my Blackberry, do you know if this will work with the Playbook?

maybe im wrong but i believe that if you have a blackberry smartphone and you pay for the data plan on it, you would be able to pair it with the playbook and use its data to go online with the playbook at no additional charge or tethering plan requirement. now if you dont have a blackberry phone/data plan and have a droid x with a data plan, you would still be able to pair it with the playbook, you would just have to pay the provider, verizon, for tethering service. if im wrong im going to be very angry as this is what ive been hearing forever waiting for this thing to come out.

I agree with you 100%. Since I've been singled out in my office as the person to go to for BlackBerry questions, I've been touting this advantage over the iPad for months now. Several people (including me) have preordered the PlayBook. Now I have to tell them that the BlackBerry Bridge will not have an internet surfing feature. This sucks.

Just got back from Best Buy - told that thru BT bridge I could access my corp information like email, contacts, calender etc. (yes we all know that part) To access internet I would need to tether with my phone (BB or other) with a cable. Asked if I could use the wireless bridge to access internet and I was told no. The speed would always be an issue but I liked having the option. Are they correct, I guess we will all know soon? I really would like it if Rimm would directly answer these questions. (I have a corp. tether plan FYI).

I would not mind paying for tethering (paying the carrier) IF it was a good deal. I am with Verizon. They charge $20/mo for this and CAP it at 2GB. Without the cap.. maybe. But 2GB? Forgeddaboutit. WiFi only for me I suppose.

Glad to see this! My BB plan is already $70/month. I can't afford another $35/month for my Playbook!

all the people i convinced not to get the ipad2 in order to wait for the playbook bc of the fact that it could use the phones data plan to browse the internet without paying for an additional tethering plan are going to be very upset with me when they find out its not true. i love looking like an idiot bc of false information i take as being the truth.

I use T-mobile, and tethering my Blackberry Bold 9700 with 6.0 OS to my Playbook was incredibly easy. In the Bold, go to Options/Device/Advanced system settings/TCP IP to get your APN. Do a custom profile and give it any name you like, type in the APN and connect. I didn't need a user name or password. When I last checked, T-mobile had no charge for tethering if the subscriber has an unlimited data plan at $30 a month. I was also told that nothing will change for existing T-Mobile customers after the takeover by AT&T. If true, I guess that means we won't have the iPhone or the Blackberry touchscreen phones, but we will still have the cheapest data plans. Now that I have the Playbook, that status is more than fine by me.

Maybe I'm just not bright enough, but this process is not working for me. I can pair with my smart phone and I can go to the Internet Tethering and I get the "acquiring IP address" and then it gets an error that comes and goes too quickly for me to show what the error is here.

On the flip side, I know my phone is working properly as I can use it to connect my iPad and get to the Internet without any problem.

Thusfar, I'm not finding any information on how to do this that actualy works. Anyone got any ideas?

It said I needed a tethering data feature when I tried to do the "internet tethering". Bridge works great but looking to do it without adding a data package????

I have a blackberry playbook. I called my mobile phone service today (T Mobile) to ask about tethering via Bluetooth and charges. They told me that a tethering code had been added to my package for no additional charge. However, there is a limit to how much I can use but the odds of me going over that are very slim as most places have wifi in them now. But knowing I can tether free of charge is good.
Apparently you just have to be clever about your question to the server ie: if you ask about tethering and how much it will cost? - they will charge uyou no doubt. But, if you ring and say: I am requesting that a tethering code is added to my package as I have unlimited data - They may not charge you (Which is what I did) I rang on 2 occasions you see and trid asking both of these questions. First time, frist question they told me it would be an additional £7.50 but the second time I rang and requested the code be added they told me it was free of charge and to surf away. I guess its due to the whole grey area surrounding tethering. If you dont sound like you know what you are talking about then hey will take you for a ride.

Hope this helps. Oh and by the way I love my playbook, absaloutley love it!

i am experiencing some problems trying using the internet tethering to my blackberry curve to the blackberry playbook its not allowing me to connect there isnt any wireless service to connect to .pls help to get it working or how can i go about it

I'm trying to use bluetooth DUN from my playbook to my verizon "dumb" phone (Samsung Rogue - SCH-U960). Currently I tether from my laptop, Nokia N800 and my HP TouchPad (running ICS) all using standard bluetooth DUN. On my TouchPad I use a program called BlueVPN since Android does not natively support bluetooth DUN. It seems allot of people confuse PAN with DUN which are completely different technologies. Bluetooth DUN on CDMA requires you to specify a number of items as part of the connection to the carrier including the dial number (#777), the logid ID ( and a password (vzw). Even when I try to set up a custom profile on the playbook I'm not given the opportunity to specify this information. Is there a way to specify this information as part of the bluetooth DUN connection on the Playbook? It seems like they are 90% of the way there to support bluetooth DUN on non BB phones. I really like the performance of the Playbook vs my TouchPad but if I can't tether it's getting returned. Currently I only pay an additional $10/month for unlimited internet and it would be sweet to use the Playbook with it.