Technology can do some pretty amazing things. Take cellphones, for example. We use them to check our email, communicate a message to our friends on Facebook, and record our workout sessions at the gym.
But, did you know that you can use your smartphone as a wi-fi hotspot? Well, you can, and it might just save your life one day. Here’s how to do it.
What Is It?
Tethering is the formal name for turning your phone into a wi-fi hotspot. The way this works is pretty simple. Let’s say you have a laptop or some other device that has native Internet connectivity. But, what you lack is the actual Internet connection.
This is where tethering comes into play. You can connect your smartphone or tablet using Wi-fi, Bluetooth, or a cable, and use your laptop as though you had a regular Internet connection.
Now, there is more to how mobile tethering works, but this is the basic idea.
One major limitation is that you will be surfing the web on a 3G or 4 G network, which might be slower than your home network. But, it’s better than not having a connection at all.
And, really, that’s why most people like tethering. It gives them options when there are no other options.
What Will Tethering Do For You?
Tethering allows you to connect your phone to several devices as long as you have a cell signal and can hop onto your cellular network.
In a way, it’s like transferring your phone’s Internet connectivity to your laptop. You will get all of the advantages, and disadvantages, of a mobile network. And, like a traditional wi-fi router, you’ll be able to connect one or several devices to the phone.
Some of the benefits include being able to surf the web, check email, check your bank statements and bank balance all on a full screen device. Many people tether their phones to laptops if they’re working on an important project and they need a full-sized keyboard but don’t have an Internet connection.
Tethering is also useful if you need to connect to a company network through a virtual private server (VPS) or if you want to be able to control how you access the Internet. Some people prefer using their own cellular network to the non-secured public wi-fi – even though public wi-fi is free.
Free hotspots aren’t known for their security, so accessing bank websites, or downloading personal financial or health information is not really a great idea on a public network.
How To Tether Your Phone
How you tether your phone depends on the device and carrier you have. A major drawback of tethering is that you pay for the service. Some service providers charge you between $35 and $80 a month for the service. Other providers enable the connectivity, and simply charge you a flat extra charge whether you use it or not (they include it in mobile data usage).
On Android, you can tether your phone for “free” using your cellular network and a paid subscription plan (data plan). Some carriers, like Sprint, do restrict connectivity through tethering unless you pay for it as a separate add-on service.
However, other carriers don’t mind as long as you’re not chewing through massive amounts of data on their networks.
An app like PdaNet will allow you to tether your phone without paying additional fees to the carriers. If you want enhanced connectivity and a secured connection, you will have to spring for the pro version, which costs money. If you aren’t concerned with security, then the regular PdaNet is free and should work just fine.
All you have to do is follow the on-screen setup instructions, make sure Bluetooth is enabled on both devices (if you’re using the bluetooth option – otherwise, have a USB cable handy), and connect to the phone on your computer when the little cell phone icon appears in your Windows system tray.
If you’re using Apple, the process is a little easier. Enable the tethering option on your carrier’s data plan. Get into the network settings on your phone and enable it there. Then, tap the personal hotspot option and tap the wi-fi password option. This protects you from unauthorized access.
Now, type in a password and you’re done.
Slide the personal hotspot option to “on” and you’re ready to go. iOS devices, OSX, and Windows machines can connect to your phone.
*** This article was written in partnership with Dennis Knight and his team. Dennis Knight is an experienced telecoms consultant. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and views online. His thoughts and advice can be found on a variety of different technology and B2B websites.