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Thread: wifi over 3g (_not_ vice-versa)

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    Default wifi over 3g (_not_ vice-versa)

    Well, let's see how much we can figure out before I have to close this as spam magnet.

    I have a wireless network. I have an old 3g phone (and no wifi).

    Hours of googling only turns up examples of using a 3g connection to create a wireless hotspot. I want to do the opposite —use a regular internet connection (wireless, or actually plugged into my router, I don't care) to create a "hotspot" that my 3g phone can connect to. I don't know if I can't find any info on this because it's impractical, or just that no sane person has ever wanted to. Anyone have knowledge/ experience/ suggestions?

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    Interesting question. Simple answer: buy a new phone.

    I have no direct knowledge of it, but here's how I understand it:

    Trying to setup a hotspot from a phone used to be free. I had a Trio years ago (8 years?) and I remember connecting my computer to it and having really cool, maybe 10Kb/s internet at best. I did that twice, maybe three times. It was a great idea, but useless. Now that the phones are improved, almost all new phones allow this and actually give decent speed (especially those with 4g). But now they're limited: unless you jailbreak the phone (and even then if there's some way for the service provider to tell what you're doing) you must pay per month to enable this service. In other words, now that it's actually worthwhile, you must pay to do it.

    Now turning toward your question (it is related), you're looking for the opposite: controlling the 3g network for the phone, rerouting the data through wifi. I imagine that you'd run into exactly the same problems there, that you'd need this to be enabled through the service provider, or to jailbreak the phone.

    Technically, this must be possible. If you were a major service provider you could do it. In fact, that is what they do. They have real internet connections (probably wired, not wifi, but that's not important), and they then route this through the 3g signal for the phones.

    But practically, I can't see how it is. Your phone looks for a 3g connection, not wifi. Therefore, you have two options:
    1. Add wifi to the phone (=buy a new phone, or good luck building it yourself )
    2. Convert the wifi signal to a 3g signal.

    The second option is interesting, and as I said technically possible because the service providers do this. But there's a major problem: you could, in effect, be a competing network. So you can't use an AT&T phone with Verizon, or whatever. Same thing here. I wonder if roaming charges could apply, or perhaps not because you wouldn't report the usage to your service provider. You might be able to do it (just-for-fun) by jailbreaking the phone. But then there's the next problem: money. You'd need to actually setup a 3g network-- I don't know exactly what hardware (or software) that would require, but basically you'd need some kind of 3g cell tower in your living room. I imagine that once you have that, the actual conversion from wifi to 3g wouldn't be too hard.

    But at the same time, there's another problem: I don't know that you can be connected to two signals at once: 3g and normal cell signal. So you couldn't make/receive calls (or send texts) while connected to your personal 3g network.

    In short: intriguing, but I can't see it actually working.


    Two possibilities, based on my lack of knowledge:
    1. It might turn out that 3g is just a fancy name for phone-specific wifi. If that's the case, I suppose you'd just need a wireless router and some software that made the wifi look like 3g. But I have no reason to believe this is the case. And you'd still have the problem of making your phone connect to a network that isn't from your service provider.
    2. There might be mini-cell-tower routers out there designed for exactly this purpose. You wouldn't need to Google "wifi 3g", but just "3g router" or some version of that. I sort of doubt it, but perhaps there's some market for them for amateur cell phone enthusiasts. Of course they probably won't be cheaper than a cheap new phone with wifi.


    Edit: the best solution I can imagine (probably completely impractical) would be the following:
    1. Create a 3g network as described above.
    2. Either name that 3g network as your service provider does (that might be entirely illegal, or perhaps not if its signal only extends on your personal property) OR jailbreak the phone to accept your signal. Connect.
    3. Route everything through your personal cell tower. Calls, texts, 3g, whatever.
    4. Connect your personal cell tower to your service provider (you could probably in theory do that with your SIM card) and route calls and texts through this. [There's the potential problem of being an unrecognized device, but most older phones seemed to be interchangable with SIM cards, so assuming that works it might be fine.]
    5. Reroute the data from the 3g through your wifi/wired internet connection.

    Assuming you did all of this in certain specific ways and never abused the service provider's services, it might all be legal and within the TOS, though it might violate the warranty on your phone. I have no idea. Since it's so impractical I am just thinking out loud rather than actually giving advice to try this.


    In short, what you need would probably be called, roughly, a 3G router, assuming such a thing exists. It would be some kind of home-use mini-cell-tower to play with. I have to imagine it would allow wifi input.



    If you do figure this out, I'd be curious to hear how.


    Edit 2: nevermind. a "3G router" turns up lots of results-- devices that connect to 3G and generate wifi (roughly what the phones do, without the phone part). So I don't know how you'd figure that out. I guess you could search for "build your own cell tower".
    Last edited by djr33; 10-29-2013 at 12:28 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by djr33 View Post
    Interesting question. Simple answer: buy a new phone.
    Right... not gonna happen

    This is mainly for testing websites; it's not a phone I actually use. It never even leaves the house.

    Quote Originally Posted by djr33 View Post
    2. Convert the wifi signal to a 3g signal.
    That's what I'm looking for. To answer your earlier question, the phone is unlocked, so no "jailbreaking" necessary.

    Quote Originally Posted by djr33 View Post
    ...You'd need to actually setup a 3g network-- I don't know exactly what hardware (or software) that would require, but basically you'd need some kind of 3g cell tower in your living room. I imagine that once you have that, the actual conversion from wifi to 3g wouldn't be too hard.
    Exactly.

    Quote Originally Posted by djr33 View Post
    Edit 2: nevermind. a "3G router" turns up lots of results-- devices that connect to 3G and generate wifi (roughly what the phones do, without the phone part). So I don't know how you'd figure that out. I guess you could search for "build your own cell tower".
    Yeah, that's the hard part. I spent hours yesterday trying to filter out the 3g => wifi hotspot results, with no success.

    Well, if anyone else has anything to contribute, please let me know. I'll be closing this soon (as I predicted, more spam posts than real ones!).

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    The spam isn't overwhelming yet (not that you were wrong about it being a magnet), so don't close it for that. At the same time, I have no idea if anyone will know anything.

    Jailbreaking is fine, then. (Is this an old phone no longer used with a service provider? Maybe just an old flip phone for the terrible 240px browser to see what happens?) So you just need the signal.


    Just because I'm curious I searched a bit.
    DIY cell tower: https://www.google.com/search?q=buil...own+cell+tower (no clue, but check it out)

    And 3g boosters: https://www.google.com/search?q="3g+signal+booster"
    I wonder if you could hack one of the electronic professional ones to accept WiFi input... See the products at the bottom of here for example:
    http://my-homemade-diy.blogspot.com/...l-booster.html


    And, aha, finally, here you go!
    http://www.csmonitor.com/Innovation/...ll-phone-tower
    (Now you've got the issues with hacking one of those to use your internet connection for data, rather than routing through the service provider, or making one yourself, or buying one just for testing not through a company. But they exist.)

    Edit:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femtocell
    More broadly: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_cell
    Daniel - Freelance Web Design | <?php?> | <html>| español | Deutsch | italiano | português | català | un peu de français | some knowledge of several other languages: I can sometimes help translate here on DD | Linguistics Forum

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    hehe, cool... I've been looking for an excuse to buy a raspberry pi. Good leads, thanks

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    As an off-topic question... are there cells phones old enough that they had dialup? I wonder if in some bizarre way you could actually hack that, haha. Of course then you'd need a dialup ISP...

    Anyway, I'm glad that helps. This sounds interesting if it works.
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    no, they're actually wap (data network over 3g) connections. I'm reading more about the Rpi approach; I might try that.

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    Well, it would require specialized radio equipment ("specialized" ≍ "expensive"), which puts it out of range of my ambition. More importantly, there are regulatory issues. After all, can't have me taking any business from poor old AT&T.

    Cellphone base stations are massive structures, but with a little hacking the Raspberry Pi will work in a pinch. It's an impressive technical process, but there are some limitations -- Specialized radio equipment and a lot of hand coding are required. Also important to note, the modified RPi can only be used in a specially shielded room; otherwise federal regulators and wireless companies might come calling.

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