Bluetooth Dial-Up Networking (DUN)

Use your phone as an internet modem

iPhone X on Bluetooth screen next to MacBook

 Unsplash

Bluetooth dial-up networking, also called Bluetooth DUN, is a means of wirelessly tethering your cell phone to another mobile device, such as a laptop, for internet access. The connection uses your phone's data capabilities to deliver internet to the other device.

Using Bluetooth to connect your computer to the internet is sometimes your only option — for example, if you're not on your home Wi-Fi network, can't find nearby free Wi-Fi, don't have a cell phone plan that allows you to use your phone as a hotspot, or are traveling and don't have a dedicated wireless hotspot.

There are a couple of ways to wirelessly use your cell phone as a modem via Bluetooth. For example, you could create a Bluetooth personal area network (PAN) for internet access. Or, you might first pair your cell phone and laptop and then use carrier-specific software to use your phone as a modem. Bluetooth DUN, however, is the "old school" way of tethering using dial-up networking.

Allowing your laptop to use your phone's internet via Bluetooth, is often called Bluetooth tethering. Nowadays, tethering is more often accomplished through a phone's built-in hotspot capabilities, which create a type of Wi-Fi network that your computer can join to access the internet through the phone's cellular connection.

Bluetooth DUN Instructions

  1. Enable Bluetooth on your phone or tablet.

    The option to turn on Bluetooth is typically in the Settings, Connections, or Network menu of your phone. In that Bluetooth menu, select the option to make the device discoverable or visible via Bluetooth.

    Settings, Bluetooth, Discoverable on Android
  2. On your laptop, open the Bluetooth settings and select your phone from the list of available devices.

    On a MacBook or other MacOS or iOS device, you'll see something like this:

    Galaxy S9 in Bluetooth pane in macOS

    In Windows, use the search tool in Control Panel to search for Bluetooth to find the settings specific to your version of Windows.

    Bluetooth panel on Windows 10

    If prompted with a PIN on the screen, make sure the same PIN shows up your phone, and then allow the connection on both devices. If you're asked to enter a PIN, try 0000 or 1234. Check with your phone manufacturer if those don't work.

    If your laptop doesn't have Bluetooth capabilities, you can use a Bluetooth USB adapter.

  3. Once your phone is connected to your laptop, find the dial-up networking option so that your laptop can use your phone's internet and not just connect to it for audio, etc.

    Windows 10 Control Panel
    The Windows 10 Control Panel.

    In Windows, you should be able to double-click or double-tap the phone (in the Devices and Printers window of Control Panel) to open its settings, and then click Connect next to the option to use your phone to connect to the internet.

    Your menu may be different, especially if you're not using Windows. You might find the DUN option in the Bluetooth options menu instead.

    In some cases, you might also need to input a username, password, and phone number or access point name (APN) provided by your ISP or wireless provider. If in doubt, contact your wireless provider, or do an internet search for your carrier's APN settings. These settings might also be found in an international GPRS Mobile APN settings list.